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.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Caithness Stone

The first thing one notices approaching the castle today is the almost-completed stone facing to the moat side of the biomass boiler house.  It's been beautifully executed out of local rock by stonemason Damien, and would have been finished but, with the weather much wetter again - we had snow late last week - Damien....

....has been moved across to preparing some Caithness flags for step treads.  Each of these, and there are fourteen in all, has to have a 'bullnose' along one edge - cut so the edge is rounded.

To do this, Damien needs four different grinding wheels, starting with the diamond one on the left.  It's a slow, painstaking process because, compared to the York stone used on the battlements, Caithness stone is very much harder, having been laid down as a fine sediment in a lake bed during the Devonian Period some 400 million years ago.  Each flagstone takes Damien half-an-hour to prepare - another example of the high quality of the workmanship on this job.

The flagstones are for this small stair in the east range, between the upper breakfast room and the lower utility.  The latter is a room in which dampness is still coming through the wall which is part of the curtain wall, which is causing some concern, though all the stone will shortly be hidden behind tracking onto which  a breathable membrane is fitted followed a layer of 18mm ply, which will be plastered.

The Caithness flagstone floor runs from the breakfast room through the kitchen and hall into the dining room (above), where 'H' has just finished laying it.  The picture hardly does justice to this beautiful stone, as each piece is a slightly different colour, and 'H' has taken great care in laying it to vary the colour shades across the room.  This morning he was scrubbing the finished surface.  Later, because the stone is slightly porous, he'll be sealing it.

Upstairs in the north range the plasterers from Neil Hobson Plastering have returned and are steadily working their way - on their stilts - through the building, which should see them here for most of this week and next. I'm no connoisseur of plasterwork, but the results looks super.  They'll be returning later to complete their work in the east and west ranges.

Over in the west range, Martin and James are working on the upper floor, which will be part of the living accommodation for the caretaker, fitting tracking, breathable membrane and 18mm ply throughout.

In my blog entry of 17th April, I seem to suggest that John-Paul Ashley is the sole boss of Ashley Thompson, the builders at Mingary Castle.  He is, of course, a partner in the firm with Mark Rutherford Thompson. My apologies to Mark.

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