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.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Tremendous Finds this Week

The week has seen a run of superb finds, both in the castle itself and during the excavation of the moat.  Undoubtably the most beautiful was made by Phil Masters of Ashley Thompson.  Phil - seen here on the battlements - seems to turn his hand to almost anything, but this week he's spent much of his time working some four metres down in the castle well where he's shovelling 'manure' into buckets which are brought to the surface.  Even though it's pitch dark down there, and he's working with a head torch, Phil has a sharp eye for artefacts.  

Archaeologist Kenny Macfadyen of Addyman Archaeology, pictured holding Phil's most exciting find, has to check each bucket as it reaches the surface, and he....

 ....quickly identified this as the stem of a wine glass likely to date from the 18th century.  It may well be of Italian manufacture, but what it shows once again is the high quality of life of the laird and his family who lived in this remote castle at that time.

Meanwhile, the best finds from the moat are being made by Ricky Clark.  Ricky works in the Ardnamurchan Estate office, but he's been helping the archaeologists by working a metal detector across the site.  Archaeologists disapprove of metal detectors, but Ricky has shown that, properly supervised and deployed at the right times and places, they have a valuable part to play in an excavation like this one.

This picture shows all Ricky's finds from one, quite short afternoon session.  While some of the objects are recent, two may be parts of another cannonball, there are several nails and an intriguing length of chain, while both the objects in the bottom left hand corner are lead, the smaller possibly being another, but very distorted musket ball.

This is another day's finds.  At top right is half a cannonball, weighing just on 4lb.  This is significant, as a common weight for cannon balls was 8lb.

To the left of the cannonball are two musket balls.

 Ricky weighed them as 18g and 51g, both of which are fairly standard musket ball sizes.

Photo: Ricky Clark
Then, on Thursday afternoon, came news that Phil was finding bottles, most of them shattered but....

Photo: Ricky Clark
....this one complete.  Since they are now digging near the bottom on the well, these are likely to be the oldest artefacts in it.  Dating them will give an idea of when the well ceased to be used for drawing water and became some sort of rubbish dump.

The Museum of London has a comprehensive collection of pictures of 17th to 19th century wine bottles, here, in which there are several that look like this one, but we'll have to wait for a definitive identification until Tom Addyman of Addyman Archaeology has had a look at it.

No comments:

Post a Comment