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, 29 August 2014

Magazine Article Features Mingary

This month's 'Scottish Island Explorer' carries an article about the restoration work at Mingary Castle, written by historian James Petre.  Look in the right-hand column of the magazine's website, here.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Still Battling the Weather

It may have been a lovely morning at the castle today, but it came after a night of torrential rain, with almost an inch falling in the last twenty-four hours.  Not that the continuing wet weather has prevented some very rapid progress since last week.  John Forsyth, the scaffolder, has been back since the weekend building two roofs within the courtyard area so that builders Mark Rutherford Thompson and John-Paul Ashley can press on right through the winter, whatever the weather throws at them.  The scaffolding frame is covered with 'visqueen' polyethylene plastic sheeting which, although there will be a gap in the middle, completely covers the east and west ranges on which they'll be working.

The chimney and gable end at the east end of the main, north range is now finished - that's the last of the main exterior stonework on this building.  The slates for the roof have arrived, and the windows for the Georgian fascade that faces into the courtyard will be here shortly, so we should see them going in next week.

Work has also started on the battlements on the north side of the curtain wall.  Because the crenellations have largely been lost and the top of the walls currently look ragged, they're being built up, levelled off, and topped with flagstone.  The blue tarpaulin is covering a section to keep it dry while the mortar goes off.

Immediately underneath, Damien - in the waterproof - and Nick have fitted steel wall brackets along the sides of the chapel and are now lifting concrete lintels into place, after which they fill above them with mortar.  It's dark, cramped and wet work - wet because water from last night's rain is pouring in through the battlement walkway above them.

More lintels, oak this time, are going into one of the recesses in the east wall which has a lancet window at the end of it - but first the old oak has to be removed.  'H' is seen here measuring up for the first of the new pieces.  It would be interesting to know how old this oak is as these lancet windows are original, some 700 years old, and it wouldn't surprise me to know that the oak is also original.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Despite the Weather....

August is often thought of as the warmest and sunniest of the summer months but here in Kilchoan the last week has been rather wet.  Over Sunday and Monday we had some 49mm, that's almost 2", of rain, and the skies have remained grey ever since.  With several of the men away on holiday, things might have been slow at the castle, but I went down today to find the east gable end of the main building nearing completion.  While Damien - in the picture - has been working steadily at it, H. is now back, so it should be finished very shortly.

This is an interior view of the gable end, showing the fireplace.  In some ways, it's a pity the whole of the interior of this block is going to be panelled as the pointed stonework looks so good.  As can be seen, the doorway from this attic level leads out onto the stone walkway round the roof.

This walkway is the subject of some minor concern.  The castle - as all good castles should - has always housed bats, but they have been monitored throughout the work by Direct Ecology.  The bats left the north range some time ago but it's possible that some may have taken up residence in gaps in the battlements, so someone from DE has been asked to come and check on their welfare.

One has to take one's hat off to the pointing team - from front to back, Adam, Lars, Rick and Chris - who have been soldiering on despite the rain and the midges.  As far as the midges are concerned, they've been lucky as the site is fairly exposed, so they benefit from the slightest winds.  When I asked the two Swedish students what had kept them going for some eight weeks now on what might have seemed a boring job, they replied that they loved working on this beautiful old building, but also they'd enjoyed the 'craic' - or, as the two Yorkshiremen termed it, the 'crack'.

With progress already speeding up, the team will be changing in to top gear.  The slates and slaters should be here shortly to complete the roof on the north range, and the scaffolder, John, returns next week to erect a framework which will enable a cover to be stretched over the whole of the courtyard so that work can continue on the two other interior buildings whatever the weather.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Progress on the North Range

With the workforce down to four - several of the men are away on holiday - progress on the castle just at the moment is steady rather than spectacular.  The east and central gables in the north range, with their chimney stacks, are now complete, and stonemason H is seen here working on the west gable.

Nick Smith is completing the process of laying the 'felt', a polypropylene breather membrane which, while air permeable, will help to keep Ardnamurchan's rain out.

This lies on top of the sarking boards, and now awaits the laying of the slates which will cover the whole roof except for the flat areas above the windows on the north side of the building.

The laying of the plyboard flooring is almost complete - this picture shows the attic room - while the Swedish students Lars and Adam are soldiering on with the pointing.