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.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mysteries and Horrors of the Castle Well

When I arrived on site this morning the archaeologists - Kenny Macfadyen at left and Tom Addyman at right - were still working on the well, and still puzzled by what they were finding.

This picture shows the eastern end of the moat.  To Kenny's left is the clay and rock wall that held back the water so it rose to the point where it could pass through the hole into the well (obscured behind Kenny).  Behind the wall can be seen a grey material which is a mix of compacted peat and clay, possibly to help make the wall watertight.

What is very surprising is that the lower part of the hole into the well is blocked by a rubble-mortar mix, which would mean that water would only flow into the well when it rose above this level, restricting the amount passing into the well.  This is very odd, since any castle under siege would need as much water as possible.  Odder still is the structure below the opening, to the left of the buckets.  It's made of blocks of stone, two of which came from the gate destroyed in 1644.  It's purpose is unexplained, but does suggest that alterations were made to the well some time in the latter part of the 17th or early 18th century.

I was invited to climb down into the well.  It was dark, dank and foul-smelling down there and, as there were three of us, crowded - but fascinating, mostly for all the questions it left unanswered.

This is a view taken from the bottom of the well looking towards the moat.  The well shaft is about 1.5m in diameter but opens into a small chamber at the bottom.  We're looking here at the tunnel which leads out of the bottom of the well to the moat, though it hasn't yet been fully cleared.  The hole that allowed water to enter is about half way down, set slightly to the left.

This is my interpretation of a cross section of the well, left being north.  The water in the moat at left would have risen to the top of the clay wall and then passed in to the bottom of the well - but the picture shows how little would have collected there.

 I was happy to leave the archaeologists to their work, but they weren't alone in the darkness as....

....there were plenty of large and evil-looking spiders to keep them company.

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