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.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Desperate Measures

This is a view of the top of the battlements of the northwest wall, below which lies the main entrance into the castle courtyard.  There are all manner of defensive structures here, many of which enabled Mingary's defenders to repel attacks on the main, land gate - see the plan of the castle in the right hand column.

Kenny Macfadyen, who is an expert on Scottish castles and is currently making a detailed map of the castle's walls, pointed to something which I can see but would never have thought about.  Look closely at the two 'windows' at the level of the scaffolding boards.

Here's a view of them from the other side.  They're largely made of slate, with stone lintels across the top, and they're immediately above the gate.  There's something unusual about them.  Can you see it?

It's the slate that interests Kenny.  Even today, when we can import cheap slate from places like China and Spain, it's expensive stuff.  At the time this wall was built, it would have been very expensive indeed.  So why, with tons of stone readily available around the castle, was this precious material used to build this part of the wall?

The two windows can be seen in this picture, taken from the other side.  They're part of a sort of 'peninsula' of the battlements which extends over the gate, giving views down onto both the outside and inside of the entrance.  It is, therefore, an absolutely vital part of the castle's defensive structure.

This is the view even further round, looking into the 'peninsula'.  Why are those slates there?

Kenny makes the suggestion that, during one of Mingary's sieges, this part of the battlement was severely damaged.  It had to be rebuilt while the siege continued.  Since they couldn't go outside the castle to collect stone, the defenders, in desperation, tore the slates off the roof of the north range, easily accessible from here, and used them to rebuild their defences.

Many thanks to Kenny Macfadyen.

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