The Mingary Castle restoration blog was written by Jon Haylett, who lives in the local village of Kilchoan. Now that restoration is almost complete Holly and Chris Bull will take over to report on bringing the Castle back to life.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Work Begins on the Battlements

With the interior of the main room in the north range (see map in right-hand column of the blog) now fully scaffolded, it's relatively easy to get up on to the battlements.  The workmen from Ashley Thompson - Roger on the left and Richard beyond him - are busy clearing and making the parapet along the top of the north wall safe, and they're exposing some fascinating architecture.

The walkway is formed of flat stones, with more, narrow, overlapping stones covering the gaps between them.  I thought they were flagstones, but they're made of local schist, and Tom Addyman tells me that the system is termed 'saddle and trough'. The stones slope towards the outside, so rainwater runs down into a drain neatly sculpted from what look like blocks of sandstone, and out through drain holes.  To the right there's a low parapet, and then a drop down three storeys into the north range - which would once have been covered by the slate roof.

Looking southeast across the north range, one can see the poor state of the top of its inner wall - that's a rowan tree growing very happily from its stones.  This wall is going to be the most difficult for the builders to stabilise.

At the west end of the cleared battlements, the parapet goes round the gable end of the building.  Walk to the furthest point, and you look straight down into the courtyard - see the last photograph in this entry.

The gap to the right is where the stairs used to come up from the west side of the courtyard....

 ....which is the view in this picture.  The stone staircase has largely gone, though some of it can be seen at centre bottom of the picture.

Turn and look northwest from this point, and Mingary House and part of Kilchoan village are framed in what looks like a window.  It isn't - it's the entrance to a 'box machicolation', now long gone, which looked like a shed stuck on the outside of the battlements except it had no floor.  Supported by two protruding stones called corbels, it protected defenders while they threw or poured things down onto people attacking the main door.

Lastly, here is the view down into the courtyard.  The east range is at top left, with its two rooms now largely cleared.  To the right is the west range, with most of its courtyard wall destroyed.  Its smaller room, further from the camera, has been excavated, but work continues in its larger room - the archaeologists have divided it into four quadrants by walkways.  The sea gate is at top centre.

Parts of the battlements are in remarkably good condition, but the amount of work to be done is daunting.  Hopefully, it'll soon be possible to walk all round the battlements.

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