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, 1 September 2013

The Archaeology of an 18th Century Household

Tom Addyman of Addyman Archaeology was back at Mingary for the meeting on Friday with Historic Scotland - which, to all accounts, went very well - so he had a chance to look at the finds which were made at the bottom of the well, which included the mass of broken wine bottle - see earlier post here.

He identified them as mallet bottles, which refers to the shape, and explained that, in the decades around 1750 they changed from shorter and squatter to taller and thinner - and we have some of both in the well, as well as some more unusual shapes.  Typically, they would have contained French claret.

Along with the bottles the well contained broken crockery which included soup bowls (above), plates, saucers, and a jug.  Most is salt-glazed earthenware and all dates from the same period, 1740-1760, when it was produced both in England and Scotland in large amounts.

Another interesting piece is what may be part of a chamber pot.  All these, along with some finds of porcelain, are typical of the household goods of a middle-class gentleman, but the story at Mingary may be a little more complicated.

After 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie landed at Glenfinnan, Mingary was occupied by Donald Campbell of Auchindoun, the local factor for the Duke of Argyll.  By 1746 the garrison had risen to fifty-nine officers and men who, after Culloden, occupied themselves by harrying the properties of local Jacobite landowners.  It seems very possibly therefore that this material belonged to the officers who would have lived in the north range and, apparently, used the well as both a toilet and a rubbish dump.

In view of this, a find made by Tom himself is particularly interesting.  It's a glass bead or 'jewel' which would not have adorned an officer's uniform, so it suggests that the officers entertained local ladies.  It may have been part of a brooch or ring, or been attached to an item of clothing.

The huge collection of bones we're finding is also giving us an idea of what the occupants of the castle ate.  This is half a sheep's skull, chopped lengthwise down the middle, and indicates that sheep's brains were on the menu.  Perhaps it was what the officers' ladies enjoyed.

1 comment:

  1. If you are interested in what the 'Jewel' is I may be able to help.