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Mingary Castle restoration: Secret window found

A window in Mingary Castle that has not been opened in around 500 years has been found by archaeologists. Picture: Hemedia

A window in Mingary Castle that has not been opened in around 500 years has been found by archaeologists. Picture: Hemedia

  • by ANNA GAULT
 

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have opened up an ancient Scottish castle window revealing a view that has not been seen in 500 years.

Mingary Castle, which lies on the most westerly point of the British mainland, is being restored after its walls began to crumble.

The castle is though to be the most intact 13th century castle in Scotland and, due to its location on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, was a strategic stronghold for many clan chiefs.

The castle, on the Ardnamurchan peninsula near Kilchoan in the Highlands, was the seat of Clan MacIain, who commanded the sea route through the Sound of Mull.

The window was opened up after archaeologists and stonemasons broke through into a secret room which had also been sealed for 500 years.

It has been more than 150 years since the castle was lived in or had any work done to excavate or restore it.

But its owner, Donald Houston, has been granted permission to turn the ruin into a residential property, through the Mingary Preservation Trust, and work is now under way to restore it to its former glory at a cost of around £2 million.

Jon Haylett, a local historian who has been overseeing the excavation said: “There was a real sense of excitement that we could, for the first time in 500 years, look out at a view which was last seen when members of Clan MacIain held Mingary Castle.

“Looking out of the window was an eerie experience, realising that the last person to see that view was probably a stonemason, some half a millennium ago.

“Next to me, doing the clearing, were two modern stonemasons from Ashley-Thomson, the building restoration firm, and I think they were equally moved.

“The view from the window looks north across what were once clan lands.”

The castle restoration has charitable status and the backing of Historic Scotland.

To raise money for the project, the trust is offering the public the chance to “sponsor a stone”.

Mr Haylett said: ”The stone you select will be assigned to you alone, its serial number, exact location and a name that you may choose for it will be entered into the records.

“It’s a way in which you can become associated with the castle and with the effort to save it.”

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