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.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

700-Year Old Graffiti Found in Chapel

For the first time, the Mingary Castle Preservation & Restoration Trust has gone to the trouble of issuing a press release because Tom Addyman and his cheerful band of archaeologists have turned up something very special.  They've discovered graffiti scratched into the plastered walls of the chapel.  And this isn't any old graffiti.  Tom reckons it was put there when the chapel was first built within the three metre thick north curtain wall, some time between 1265 and 1295.

During the recent clearance work on the chapel, Tom found the graffiti in at least four areas of its walls.  It’s pretty simple stuff, the sort of marks that would have been made by an illiterate man.  One 'picture' looks remarkably like Ardnamurchan lighthouse (top photo), another seems to be a ship, above, while....

....a third suggests to me that the plasterer's name may have started with a capital 'I'.

But there's more.  If the graffiti came from the beginning of the chapel's story, our archeologists have found evidence of its end.

During one siege, a cannon ball smashed though the wall just beside the double lancet window - and parts of a cannon ball that may have done the damage have been found. The picture shows the lancet window with poorly built wall to the left and below it - compare this to the wall at right - clear evidence of how the defenders made a desperate attempt to rebuild the stonework from within before the whole massive curtain wall collapsed on them.

Realising that the chapel offered attacking gunners a weak spot in the north wall, the defenders filled the damaged end of the room with rubble and anything else they could get hold of – including two pieces of cannon ball (above, beside a ten centimetre scale), the bones from sheep and cattle eaten during the siege, and the leather heel of a shoe - this found, not by the archaeologists but by Ardnamurchan Estate's Ricky Clark. Later, in more peaceful times, the rest of the room was infilled, but this was done much more neatly.

Cannons came into widespread use from the 16th century, so the Trust's archaeologists hope to be able to date the siege accurately from the cannon ball and the shoe heel, above, both of which are being sent to experts.

1 comment:

  1. Has Tom looked at the content of the castles "haried" walls , just curious about the possibility of them containing, hemp or hair?