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.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cannonball Found Embedded in Castle Wall

There was a big change visible today as I approached the castle.  The scaffolding walkway around the walls now connects to the entrance to the castle so, with the handrails in place and permission from scaffolder Stephen Holmes, I was able to walk out onto the scaffolding.

Progress with the scaffolding has been spectacular.  I have said before that it's almost a work of art, but when one is on it the overwhelming impression is that it's an impressively solid structure.

The lower walkway is now complete on all sides except the northern, and the men are now working on an upper level which....

....leads round to the southern side of the castle, high above the beach.  The views are breathtaking - particularly when one remembers that the last people to see the world from this particular angle did so in the 13th century.

On the east wall I met Stephen, who is in charge of works while John Forsyth is away, and he immediately drew my attention to something embedded in stonework of the wall above our heads.
Looking up, I could see a hole in the wall, some eighteen inches in diametre, immediately below a narrow crenel in the battlements.

Embedded a good foot into this hole is a cannonball - many thanks to Stephen for climbing up to take this picture.  When the next level of scaffolding goes in, we'll all be able to get a close look at it.

The arrow shows where the cannonball is embedded.

Stephen's is a tremendously exciting find because, as with the blackened gate stones which were found in the moat, it can be traced back to a particular event in Mingary Castle's history.  Since this wall faces out to sea, the cannon that fired it must have been aboard a ship.  It's possible that this dates to the siege of 1644 when one of the ships investing the castle, a Dutch vessel, sank just off the castle.  The wreck has been thoroughly investigated - see the Wessex Archaeology report here - and Historic Scotland, in their report on thr weck site, had the following to say about it:

 Historic Scotland report, a .pdf file, is here.


  1. What a terrific discovery, imagine this cannon ball being there all that time waiting for Stephen to come along and find it, bringing history alive.

  2. I think the cannonball should be left in place and, when visitors can eventually be allowed to the castle, be made visible to them still in-situ where it landed hundreds of years ago.
    Are there any other castles in the UK with such a feature?

  3. That's amazing! And I agree, it should be left where it landed. Maybe a clear coat of varnish or something similar to protect it from the elements to help preserve it?

  4. If left in-place, visitors can be told "This isn't speculation of what a cannonball does to the stone walls of a castle or the set of a Hollywood film or a TV mockup. This really is what happens and did, 350 years ago"

  5. Well done Stephen in spotting this interesting find and recognising its importance.