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, 7 January 2014

Passageways Reveal their Secrets

It was great to be back at the castle this morning, even though the recent weather has been atrocious: during last night we had over an inch (27mm) of rain, and many of the local roads were flooded.

Along with the rain, since mid-December we've enjoyed a succession of gales, most of them starting in the southeast - so they've been blowing straight into the face of the castle - before swinging round into the southwest.  Yet as I climbed the scaffolding to take this picture, looking east along the coast towards Ben Hiant, I met John O'Neil, who reported that, over the Christmas and New Year holiday, only three scaffolding boards had moved.

But the real excitement lay within the castle.  There, archaeologists from Addyman Archaeology are back on site while the passageways which run within the north and east curtain walls are opened up.  This picture shows Canadian archaeologist Andrew Morrison watching while Matthew Hagyard of Ashley Thompson builders works to break through into a passage which has been sealed since about 1700.

This picture shows where the work is taking place.  The workmen are in the northeast corner of the castle at 'A', and are breaking into the passageway that runs along inside the massive north curtain wall towards 'C'.  We have no idea what is in this passageway, though there has been some suggestion that the double lancet window may be that of a chapel.

However, J-P Ashley and his men have already managed to clear the passageway in the east wall which slopes down from 'A' to 'B'.  The problem with this passage is that it had been filled when the chimneys were put in during the early 18th century renovation, and much of the stonework was in a dangerous condition.

This picture looks down the passage from 'A' towards 'B', with the chimney supported by an Acrow prop.  Sadly, some of the stone steps have been damaged or removed, and.... of the oak ceiling, which is visible in this view looking up from 'B' to 'A', have been destroyed.

Work within these passages will continue for the next few days, so I hope to make regular trips to the castle to follow what happens.

As if the morning hadn't been exciting enough, as I walked back up the field to the Ardnamurchan Estate offices at Mingary Steading, three huge sea eagles flew over.  They've been described as 'flying barn doors', and seemed totally in keeping with the castle over which they soared.

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