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, 8 October 2015
Skills Traditional and Modern
October is often the best month of the year in the west Scottish Highlands, and this one is working hard to make up for a rather dismal summer. This morning's low sun was ideal for showing off the repointed and repaired eastern wall of the castle - and it does look good! Other than the 18th century chimney and the crenellated battlements, this is much as the castle would have looked when it was first built some 700 years ago.
Materials for Mingary's latest metamorphosis are arriving all the time. This morning saw the delivery of the the bannisters on the main staircase in the north range, every piece made of solid oak and, despite the smiles from builder Mark Rutherford Thompson and Chris Taylor, very heavy to carry.
All this is more work for joiner Martin Chandler, who has almost finished the stairs in the west range - all that's left to do is fix the tops on the main posts - and was pleased to show off the little seat he'd built into the area at the top of the stairs. The skills of the joiners in fitting the oak panelling and such things as the door architraves and skirtings, and in thinking of small features which will make visitors' stay even more of a pleasure, are becoming a feature of this project. As can be seen here, the skirtings are now completed in the west range while....
....more and more of the heavy, solid oak doors are being hung. This picture is of the master bedroom in the north range, with its four-poster bed and en suite bathroom.
These traditional skills are being blended with the very latest technology. This picture was taken in one of the bedrooms on the second floor of the north range, where specialists are about to instal a cabinet under a mediaeval lancet window to house all the switches for the internet, TV, telephone, data and other cabling.
In ten rooms there are these little Heatmiser control boxes which are connected to the wi-fi, enabling the biomass central heating to be controlled remotely through a smart phone.
Below the watergate, Chris and J-J Dagnall were back at drilling holes into the dolerite sill which will enable the protective stone wall to be pinned to solid rock. Long-term readers of this blog will recall that engineer Brian Smith of Arc Engineers visited the site in April before drawing up plans to prevent further undercutting by the sea of the rock on which the castle is built - see post here.
This wall is a major project. So far Chris and J-J have taken three days to drill 15 holes out of a total of 70, varying in depth between two and four metres, into which will be fixed steel rods.
The arch leading through to the garden at the front of the castle is finished, and work continues on laying the Caithness flagstone pathways around the garden. To the left can be seen the stone posts of the gateways, one for vehicle the other for pedestrian access.