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, 20 August 2013

First Steps on the Scaffolding

Work is concentrated at the moment in two areas.  The archaeologists, with the well now clear, are completing their excavations in the moat to allow the scaffolders access to the north side.  Filippo Peritone, in the centre, is working his way across the basement rock looking for any remaining artefacts while Kenny Macfadyen, to the left.... working on the area immediately outside the well.  The well shaft in the castle is behind the stone wall at top centre of this picture.  Just to the right of Kenny is a structure coming towards the point where the picture was taken.  Kenny is starting to dig a section from left to right across this structure to try to sort out what it did.

This is a close-up of where the structure meets the wall.  '1' appears to be part of a low stone wall, the lower part of which, '2', seems to be made waterproof with a grey clay.  If this wall held back the water in the moat to the right, then it would have filtered through to the well just below the '3'.  Excavation of the well has found a fissure in the rocks which may come through to the moat at exactly this point - Kenny's excavation will sort this out.

On the other side of the castle, work continues apace on the scaffolding.  Under the close supervision of John-Paul Ashley of Ashley Thompson, I was taken out onto it for the first time, but only along this short section of walkway.  The whole of the wall should be safely accessible by the end of August or early September, enabling visiting officers from Historic Scotland to take a close look at both the outside of the castle and the tops of the battlements.

JP's men are now working high above the beach, with magnificent views across the Sound of Mull to Morvern and Mull but, as the structure rises higher, so the work becomes more dangerous.  John-Paul is seen here clipping his safety harness on to the scaffolding as he moves along the walkway.

I watched as John-Paul fixed a pole in place.  It was lowered to him from above, and then the two men working on it spent some time adjusting it so it was absolutely upright, before fixing it with several clips.  The whole structure looks like a gigantic work of art that's slowly enveloping the building.

John-Paul told me that, once the scaffolding is up, the plan is to concentrate on stabilising the main building within the courtyard, the 'north range', rebuilding its gable ends so that they can get a roof onto it before winter sets in.  They will then leave the work on the outer walls until the worst of the winter is over, getting back to them some time around March or April.

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