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, 12 March 2015

A Change in Emphasis

Many thanks to Iain Thornber who took these aerial pictures of the castle on Sunday while passing in a helicopter.  They give a good idea of the huge progress that has been made on the exterior work.

Iain was fortunate that day with the weather.  When I walked down to the castle today for my weekly visit....

....we were in the middle of the third storm this week, this one a southeasterly gale blowing straight into the sea-side of the castle.  The picture gives no idea of the banshee howling of the wind as it passed through the scaffolding, nor of the piercing cold of 40mph raindrops.

It's unsurprising, then, that there's been a significant change in emphasis in the building work: most of the work is now going on inside the castle buildings. However, they have managed to complete more of the flagstones on the walkway round the curtain walls.  In this picture, taken from above the main gate, we're looking straight down the steps which lead to the west range, and can see the neat little steps which lead up from the 'landing' to the main walkway round the top of the battlements.  These didn't seem to exist before, and have been added at Jean-Paul Ashley's suggestion.

Immediately below those steps, and out of sight in the previous picture, is an entrance into the west curtain wall, where Damien is currently working, inserting concrete joists to hold up its roof.  Immediately below his feet is a vertical drop down to the castle's small dungeon, the only entrance to what must have been a dark, dank place.

To Damien's left is a short, narrow passage leading to the eastern garderobe, where....

....someone kindly obliged with a demonstration of how it would have been used.  With the wind in the east, this, the western garderobe, would have been in use today.

Work has started on fitting the windows into the east range but....

....most of the workmen are now in the north range, where preparations for the arrival of the first panels in a few weeks' time are speeding ahead.  With so much joinery work coming up, a new joiner has been employed, and there will be more shortly.  Dean Cunningham is from Crossroads, near Skipton in Yorkshire.  While Dean has worked in Scotland before, he's never worked on a project like this, which he described as "unique".

The change also sees the arrival of new equipment: this magnificent machine is a chop saw.  Beyond it is one of the lancet windows, and another of the areas that it currently being worked on is the preparations for the panelling around them.  Each will be covered by a shutters, behind which the window will stand in a surround of the original stonework.


  1. What an incredible transformation from a ruined ancient castle to a reconstructed castle. Do you feel that Wingfield Manor could follow the example of Mingary Castle as far as being restored back into a home is concerned? The reason why I mentioned Wingfield Manor is because it too is in a remote area that is off the tourist trail. Here are two links to Wingfield Manor:

    Let me know of your thoughts on the idea of Wingfield Manor being restored in the same manner as Mingary Castle...

  2. Just wondering, could you give some more information and possibly pictures on the dungeon/pit prison itself? When I was at the Castle in the fall of 2012 it was filled with rubble, so it wasn't clear how deep it went. Is it going to be re-purposed for something else or kept as is?
    Thank you so much for providing this blog; it has been such a fantastic record of the restoration of the castle of my ancestors; i hope one day I can return to see it for myself, but until then this is the next best thing.

  3. In response to Anonymous on Wingfield Manor. The restoration of Mingary has depended on many factors, such as the co-operation of Historic Scotland with the Trust, and the Trust's ability to raise some £2m to fund the works.

    Scott - I can't get in to the dungeon at the moment as the builders are working above it and the entrance is blocked, but will try to get down there as soon as possible and take some pictures. And hope you get back to see it - the transformation is remarkable.


  4. Hi Jon,
    Thanks for the kind reply. I suppose your response meant that if Wingfield Manor were to follow the example of Mingary Castle, the owner must consult with English Heritage as well as have the financial means of funding the works.

    What I do not understand was why Historic Scotland denied Lex Brown the opportunity to restore Castle Tioram in the past? I understand that the Mingary Castle Trust had worked with Lex Brown on how to avoid the pitfalls that plagued his efforts to restore his own castle.

    From what you know about Castle Tioram, has the matter with the castle been resolved between Mr. Brown and Historic Scotland?

  5. I'm afraid I don't know what the current situation is with Castle Tioram.