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.
Wednesday, 8 January 2014
Stories in Stones
I returned to the castle this morning anxious to see what progress had been made in digging out the intramural passage, to find that, despite their best efforts, the men working on it hadn't got far. The passage wasn't filled with rubble as expected but with blocks of rock, each of which was mortared in. Archaeologist Andrew Morrison believes that this was done to strengthen the walls once cannon had been invented.
But the three men working in this dark, confined space had found something very interesting. Builder Liam Kelly of Ashley Thompson points to the sandstone blocks of a doorway, with the passage they're excavating behind him. There are straight cut marks on the higher blocks, as if the builder who erected them had used the rock to sharpen a tool. But look closely at where he's pointing....
....because someone has carved the initials WS into the sandstone. Since this is part of the original intramural passage, it seems quite possible that this was done when the castle was being built, some time around 1300AD. It's another very personal connection back to the people who worked on this great building all that time ago.
After I left them to their dank, cave-like existence, I joined archaeologist Kenny Macfadyen who is working in the fresh air high on the north curtain wall. He too had found a story written into a stone. What he's pointing to....
....is the impact mark made by a missile, most probably a cannon ball, when it hit a large lump of very hard dolerite rock. This rock forms the end of a merlon, the higher part of a crenellated battlement, and the gap visible to the right is an embrasure. One can almost imagine a defender peeking out through the embrasure during one of Mingary's sieges at the moment the cannon ball hit the rock. He must have had quite a fright.