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, 19 November 2013

A Turning Point

Winter has arrived.  Last night the wind swung into the north and brought in frequent hail showers.  By this morning, the wind had dropped but light flurries of snow were drifting out of a grey sky.  But, with the snow comes excellent news from builder John-Paul Ashley of Ashley Thompson.  While his men are still working on cleaning and stabilising the stonework on both the north range and the battlements, his stonemason has started pointing in the main range.

Pointing, for those who are as ignorant as I, is pushing mortar in between the stones to replace the mortar that's been eroded away through the ages.  This is a turning point for Mingary Castle because it signals that the process of rebuilding this great monument has begun.

Great care has been taken to keep as many of the individual blocks of stone in their original position as possible, but many of them are very precarious.  A good example is this huge stone lintel which stands over one of the fireplaces in the north range.  It was okay at the nearer end, but at the far end it was teetering on a few pieces of rock.  It's now stable.

This wall, part of the central gable, is another example of an original wall that's been saved, and been stabilised following pointing.

In the same way as there are hundreds of different cake mixes, the mortar mix J-P's men are using has a 'recipe'.  It consists of:

1 part hydraulic lime
1 part lime putty
        - for anyone who wants to read about the basics of different sorts of lime, click here.
7 parts Durham beach sand
2 parts whin stone.

Mortar takes time to 'go off' - harden - and it's helped if the atmosphere is warm and dry, so all the windows in the north range have been fitted with polycarbonate sheets, the sort of thing that's used on conservatory roofs.  In addition, two pot-belly stoves will be at work in the near future.

It was cold for the men working in the building this morning.  I joked with them that, shortly, it'll be as warm as a sauna.  They weren't convinced.

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