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.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Crenellation Compromise

The weather over the last week has been.... terrible.  Some 200mm, four inches, of rain has fallen, causing water to pour through the walls of the castle, and when builder Mark Thompson had to rush down to Glasgow last weekend to pick up urgently-needed materials, the main A82 road he was returning along was blocked by landslips and the Corran ferry was off due to high winds, so he slept two nights parked at the roadside.

Despite these dismal conditions, building has continued apace, and one of the main areas of development has been along the battlements.

As with most castles, when Mingary Castle was under siege, the main defence came from the tops of the walls - the battlements - which consisted of a walkway protected by an outer wall.  This wall had crenellations - higher parts, the merlons, separated by lower sections, the embrasures.

The problem with the tops of Mingary's walls at the time rebuilding started was that they were ragged from loss of stone, so the exact location of all the merlons and embrasures wasn't clear - picture shows the battlements of the north and east curtain walls before work started.  One solution would have been to have pointed up the ragged edges and left them.  At the other extreme, with advice from the archaeologists, it would have been possible to recreate the crenellations, which appear, as with most castles, to have been fairly regular.

The compromise that has been adopted has been to level off the tops of the walls with the highest points of the ragged edges.  It's quite difficult to see the end result as, in this picture at least, it's hard to separate the north range's stone chimneys from the north curtain wall.  Anyway, we've ended up with what might best be described as irregular crenellations.

What isn't in doubt is the quality of the workmanship that's gone into rebuilding these walls.  Every piece of rock, and all the mortar, has had to be carried up manually.  One of the builders estimated that there was sixty tonnes of it in all.

Some idea of the result can be seen from this picture, taken in August, which shows the crenellations along the southeastern, southern and western walls, with....

 ....this one taken more recently, when the work had been completed except for the cappings of York stone.  Along these sections the crenellations are fairly regular, but....

....this picture shows one of the bartizans, a small defensive tower at the corner of the wall, and the west wall to its right, where the regularity of the crenellations ends.

The full effect won't be visible until the outer scaffolding comes down.

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