Explore Skye and Lochalsh

With the stunning backdrop of the Cuillin Hills and the island's rocky coastline, many archaeological sites on Skye have an atmosphere that is hard to beat anywhere else in the Highlands. Click on the map or the key to the right to browse some of the accessible, interesting sites to be found in Skye and Lochalsh.

1. Dun Grugaig

Dun GrugaigA well-preserved dun, a fortified site dating from the Iron Age (between 1500 and 2500 years ago), located on a promontory close to the southern tip of the island. The site was defended by a massive stone wall on its landward side, with its promontory position offering a natural defence for the rest of the site. Parts of this wall are extremely well-preserved with a finely-built passage and parts of a gallery surviving. MoreBack to top

2. Cnocan nan Cobhar Prehistoric Burial Cairn

Cnocan nan Cobhar chambered round cairnAn imposing stone mound is what remains of a chambered round cairn, a burial monument that probably dates from the Neolithic period (around 4-5000 years ago). A cist, a stone-lined burial chamber, was inserted into the mound later in its history and is still clearly visible. MoreBack to top

3. Airidh na Creice shieling settlement

Footings of shieling hutA large group of more than 70 shieling huts stunningly located in the valley bottom between the head of Loch Slapin and the base of Garbh-Bheinn. Shieling huts were small structures occupied on a seasonal basis. The eastern end of the group is very well-preserved and elsewhere on the site the remains of the huts can be seen as raised mounds. MoreBack to top

4. St Maelrubha's Chapel and Burial Ground

St Maelrubha's chapel and burial groundThe roofless remains of two churches, one dating from the 18th century and the other, smaller one, from an earlier period. Many churches in the north-west Highlands are dedicated to St Maelrubha , who founded a monastery at Applecross in 673 AD. The churchyard contains a fragment of cross-shaft reused as a gravestone, and a number of finely decorated grave slabs. A 15th or 16th-century font was removed to the National Museum of Scotland in the 19th century. MoreBack to top

5. Dun Ardtreck

Dun ArdtreckA galleried dun, also known as a semi-broch, located on a rocky peninsula. The dun is D-shaped in plan with the straight edge being former by the cliff edge itself. It is thought that the wall on the landward side would have reached a height of around 5 metres. Excavations at the dun have showed that the initial occupation (around the late 2nd and 1st centuries BC) was short and spasmodic, with the evidence suggesting that the end of the dun's occupation was marked by violence and destruction. MoreBack to top

6. Dun Beag Broch

Dun Beag BrochThis stunningly located and well-preserved broch was visited by Dr Johnson in 1770 during his tour of the Hebrides. The entrance is in the south and there is a small cell on the right hand side as you walk in. Traces of steps can be seen in the south west section of the broch. The cell on the eastern side of the doorway is accessed from inside the broch. The walls of the broch stand to around 2 metres in height. Ruined buildings can be seen in the surrounding landscape, probably belonging to a later township. MoreBack to top

7. Vatten Prehistoric Cairns

Northern chambered cairn © Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons LicenceThe remains of two large chambered cairns of which the northern one is the best preserved. Each cairn is surrounded by a kerb. MoreBack to top

8. Dunvegan Castle

Dunvegan Castle © Andrew TaylorThis famous castle originated in 1266 when Alexander III, after the annexation of the Western Isles, enclosed the promontory with a curtain wall. The arched gateway in the wall was the only entrance to the castle until the 18th century. The castle keep, a tall rectangular tower, was built in the second half of the 14th century. The 'Fairy Tower' was added in the 16th century and the two were joined in 1623 followed by further additions later in the 17th century. The building was remodelled in the 19th century leaving the structure we see today. It is believed that the castle sits on the site of a much older fort, but no trace of this remains. MoreBack to top

9. Annait monastic settlement and burial ground

Site of monastic settlementThis early medieval monastic settlement and later burial ground occupies the site of an earlier fort. The structures that can be seen on the site are the remains of later shieling huts (small dwellings occupied on a seasonal basis). The name itself 'Annait' is indicative of an early Christian site. MoreBack to top

10. Dun Hallin Broch

Dun Halling brochA well-preserved broch in which the circular form of the interior living space can clearly be seen. The narrow entrance passage can be traced, as can the 'guard cells' either side. Brochs were circular structures believed to have been high status houses. The lower steps of a stone staircase, probably leading to an upper floor, can be seen in the space between the inner and outer walls. MoreBack to top

11. Skeabost Island

Ruined chapel on Skeabost IslandThis island is probably the most important religious site on Skye. The island is occupied by a burial ground and the remains of two churches. From the 11th to 15th centuries the island was the seat of the bishops of the Southern Isles. The larger of the two churches whose remains can be seen on the island was built as an ornate cathedral in the 14th century - it now survives as a grass covered mound. A smaller building, traditionally thought to be older, incorporates stone from the cathedral building so must be later in date. This burial aisle is the traditional burying place of the Clan Nicolson. The burial ground has some impressive medieval gravestones. MoreBack to top

12. Clach Ard Pictish Stone

Clach Ard Pictish StoneA Class I Pictish symbol stone (the earliest type of symbol stone dating from the 6th to 8th centuries AD). Until around 1880 the stone was built into a door jamb of a house in Tote, and was associated with a legend that it could never be taken into the house. It was then recognised as a symbol stone, removed and re-erected in its present position. MoreBack to top

13. St Moluags Church and Burial Ground

St Moluags church and burial groundThe ancient remains of the church of St Moluag which was last in use during the 16th century. The previously open burial ground has now been enclosed and contains a well, Tobar Heibert, consisting of two stone slabs through which a strong spring rushes. St Moluag was a contemporary of St Columba who converted the Picts to Christianity in the 6th century. The dedication strongly suggests a Pictish presence in the surrounding area. MoreBack to top

14. Suisnish Pier and Inverarish Ironstone Mine

Part of the ironstone mine complexThe expansive remains of an ironstone mine and processing complex established by the renowned iron masters William Baird and Co. of Coatbridge. The site was in operation during a brief period between 1913 and 1919 and was worked by German prisoners of war. The main working was a drift mine running through a hill, linked to the pier at Suisnish by a railway. There are ruins of concrete surface buildings, and the track of the railway can still be seen. The incline to another drift can also be traced. This monument is an excellent example of a well-preserved industrial complex in which all parts of the ironstone mining process are represented. MoreBack to top