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.

Friday, 7 February 2014

A Turning Point

This was the view from the castle this morning, looking through the spiderweb of scaffolding across a wonderfully still loch to the far shores of Morvern.  The picture was taken from just outside the watergate on the southern side of the castle.  Turning....

....I took this picture of the gate with its fine sandstone surround glowing in the warm sunlight.

Just round the corner, three of John-Paul Ashley's workmen were doing the last of the 'weeding' - removing the vegetation from the outside base of the castle walls.  They're a cheerful trio, all from Yorkshire and complaining about the cold - from left to right, Matthew, Skully and Adam.

I caught up with archaeologist Andrew Morrison in the chapel, where he was packing up having completed the excavations there.  His last job was to expose the flagstones which form the step down at the chapel entrance.  The picture also shows the sandstone door surround.

Earlier in the week he had exposed another of the lancet windows.  This one, on the first floor of the north range, was cut into the whole thickness of the north curtain wall.  It has a neat little flagstone windowsill, and then a lower flagstone level which I assume was the level of the original wooden floor.  There's a fourth lancet in the north wall but this won't be opened up as it was damaged during one of the castle's many periods of renovation.

Andrew seems fairly sure that the work he's done over the last three weeks is the end of the excavation stage at Mingary Castle.  He's expecting Kenny Macfadyen to be here next week to complete the last of the drawings, after which the castle is handed over to the builders.

It seemed to me that today was quite a major milestone.  The lads are completing the last of the clearing of the walls before pointing starts next week.  The archaeologists are all but finished.  The plans have been passed by Historic Scotland and Highland Council.  We now move into the building phase.

BUT.... I'm very conscious that getting to this point has been horrendously expensive.  I don't know the exact figures, but I understand some £700,000 has been spent by the Mingary Castle Preservation and Restoration Trust against an income of £250,000.  The building work is going to need some £1.5 million.  The Trust desperately needs help.


  1. Jon, I just wanted to say that I've been following the blog for the last few months and have really enjoyed your photos and updates as progress is made! I'm an MSc History of Art student at the University of Edinburgh and last term I wrote an essay on early castles of western Scotland, in which Mingary figured in quite prominently. It was really fantastic to see such current and spectacular updates on this work while I delved into its past and context. Just wanted to pass along that all the posts are excellent and I look forward to continuing to see more!


  2. Hi Kate - Many thanks for your kind words. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been allowed to follow the progress on this very exciting project, and am so pleased that you have found some value in what I have written. There's still a year or more to go until the castle is completely refurbished, and I just hope I'll be able to follow it all the way to completion. Please keep in touch. Jon