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, 26 June 2015

A Tour of the Site

For me, these weekly visits to Mingary Castle have been a privilege, and very much enjoyed.  Yesterday's tour began just to the east of the site, from which the east curtain wall can best be seen.  Work has been continuing to finish the pointing of the exterior of the walls, and the section along the bottom of this wall, largely invisible under the scaffolding, is now done.  That leaves only a small section by the water gate, and this huge task will be completed.

On this side of the castle site an area of ground is being cleared by Martin Newton working one of DA Boyd's diggers. This will be landscaped and then made available for use for events connected to the castle - for example, it will be large enough to accommodate a marquee.

Builders Ashley Thompson and their long-suffering workforce have had to put up with storms, poor communications along miles of peninsula roads, long dark winter nights, internet and mobile phone blackouts, long separations from their families, a damp and grey spring and early summer and, now, the dreaded Highland midges. These miserable beasts, whose sting is completely out of proportion to their minute size, are weeks late in appearing because of the weather, so have a lot of ground to catch up.  This picture shows Billy who, for some reason, is the local midges' favourite meal.

Entering the courtyard one is struck by how light is is, even when the weather is overcast.  Next week the scaffold is going up again in the courtyard and work will start on a light-coloured harling - an exterior rendering on the stonework traditional to the Highlands - which will brighten this area even more.

It's good to see Sebastian Evans (left) and Tim Birbeck of TSB Ironcraft of Rishton, Lancashire, back this week to complete work on the iron railings which run along the inside of the battlements, up the steep external stairs, and along the walkway in front of the top floor of the north range.  When they left after their last visit at the beginning of June, they went away with templates for the stair rails, and it's these that they have been fitting.

Even the best-laid plans sometimes don't quite work: the railings have had to be altered on site, but the finished effect is superb.

My tour then continued along the length of the walkway which runs along the front of the north range, looking down into the courtyard, first at the east range, where the lads from Ashley Thompson are completing lining the small room at the right of the building, then.... the west range where, again, the small room on the ground floor at left, just by the water gate, is being fitted out as a store room.

I finished in the north range, where work continues with the panelling and ceilings in the lower rooms, but the highlight of the day was finding one of the partners in Ashley Thompson, Mark Rutherford Thompson, hard at work in the bathroom in the one-time chapel, grouting the tiles that have been fitted by workman 'H'.

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