Monday 21 November 2016

Frosty Gatehouse Reccie

I have written to Angus Council to ask for listed building consent to make structural repairs to Balintore Castle's gate lodges, which I have recently acquired. The wooden lintels above the windows and doors have rotted totally away, and inserting concrete lintels will ensure there is no further masonry collapse. The classic collapsing pattern of ruins is from the window and door openings upwards, and this simple fix will ensure the future of these structures. 

The Council asked me to provide a few details of the works, so I thought I may as well put the information on the blog, so they are easily accessible at any stage and from any location.

This morning was beautiful and frosty, but very cold. However, I was able to warm-up by being in the sun and walking briskly to the gate lodges to get the blood pumping.

leaving the castle: smoke rising from the wood burner in the kitchen wing
arriving at the gate houses

Technical Details for Angus Council

The names used for window and door openings are shown in the plan view (below) of the two ashlar-detailed octagonal gate lodges. Note the east gatehouse has two door openings, as there is additional domestic accommodation of random rubble construction through D3.

W1, W2 - lintels gone

W3 - lintels gone (small fragment of wood)

D1 - lintel gone

W4, W5 - lintels gone
D3 - lintel rotten, stones above detached

W6 - lintel gone

D3 - lintel present but rotten

west gate pier from north

west gate pier from south

east gate pier from south

east gate pier from north

Schedule of Works for Gate Lodges

(1) remove timber lintels

Note that masonry above lintels is generally sufficient to hold walls up as current lintels have rotted sufficiently that they are no longer providing supporting.

(2) insert re-enforced concrete lintels

This may involve the removal of some surrounding stone. Note that 3 or so lintels will be required to provide the width so these can be inserted in sequence providing intermediate support by using some slate packing.

(3) concrete in lintels and surrounding stones

Schedule of Works for Piers

My masonry consultant reported, after inspection, that no lifting apparatus would be necessary to dismantle the piers. All the stones can be handled by two men. Scaffolding will be erected beside the piers and the stone blocks moved sideways onto this. Reconstruction will consist of the same process in reverse.

The piers do not require total dismantling as in some places they are intact and square.

Appearance and Materials

There is no mortar between the close-fitting stone blocks of the piers (which may explain their spreading apart) but some adhesion from the rubble infill. There is pointing to help stop water ingress. Any loose rubble infill will be removed and replaced with equivalent mortar and stone/brick material. Repointing will use the same lime/concrete mix as the original.

The lintels will appear as grey concrete rectangular inclusions in the internal stonework i.e. these will not be visible from outside the structures. Internal wall cladding will eventually hide the lintels totally.


  1. That is great that you were able to get these! Just add them to the list of things to do. . .

    1. Indeed I have been asking myself why I have taken on two more crumbly structures, when I have already have an even larger crumbly structure on my hands. :-) Of course, the emotional reality is that I was delighted to get the gate houses. They have been reunited with the castle, and indeed their restoration is not as daunting to me as it would be to other people.

  2. You purchased the gate lodges?

    Excellent! OF COURSE you had to!

    The carriage house to my 1894 house became available. I needed it like a hole in the head.

    And purchased it without hesitation.

    1. Well done! :-) Are there any photos of your place online?

    2. This is my blog:

    3. You have impressive web resources and abilities Ross! I love the house you are doing up. I think we have similar tastes - I have a vintage lighting fetish too. :-)

    4. I did a blog post on you a while back!


      My mother was born in Scotland, so I have always felt only half American!

    5. Thanks for the kind mention on your blog. Your name couldn't be more Scottish! :-) I listened to your interview on YouTube - very interesting. Do come and visit Balintore if you are ever in the "old country". I also know a number of restoring individuals in the UK with whom I could put you in touch.

  3. Another exciting project, it's great that the gate lodges still belong with the castle as sometimes sold off. Hope the weather isn't too cold up there at the moment

    1. Yes, it's great the gate houses belong again to the castle. The prospect of doing them up is, as you say, really exciting. The weather has been very cold - in fact my fingers have frostbite. However, the last few days have thankfully been a bit warmer.

  4. How about using slate posts or am I a year late in commenting !!