MHG10167 - Broch, Dun Phail


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • BROCH (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

(ND 01481387) Dun Phail (NAT) Broch (NR) (site of) OS 6" map, (1963)

A very large Pictish tower called Dun Phail crowned the brow of the high ground close to the public road and about halfway between Portgower and Helmsdale. The foundations only of this tower could be traced of late years, and the large stones forming that foundation have been dug up recently for building purposes.
NSA 1845.

Site of Dun Phail -"This name applies to the site of a Pictish Tower. There is not a vestige of it to be seen now, it having been taken away to build fences, etc". Name Book 1871.

Remains of Dun Phail (name verified) survive as an amorphous turf covered mound of stones up to 0.6m high, to which field clearance has been added. Dry-stone walling juts out of eroded cliff face on E side. It appears to be of 'broch-like' construction, if so a great part of broch has been carried away by erosion.
In 1959 Mr J G Murray (Milton, Gartymore, Helmsdale) came upon a large boulder while weeding on the site of Dun Phail. In trying to remove this boulder he unearthed several small 'finds' which he forwarded to the Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh. Some of these finds have been retained by the Museum and the remainder, including a bone pin, some pieces of iron slag, wood, etc have been returned to him. The boulder 1m high by 0.9m by 0.5m forms one side of the still open excavation made by Mr Murray, alongside which is a stretch of walling,0.8m high, visible for 0.8m.
Visited by OS (J B) 12 April 1976.

In Dunrobin Castle Museum are 'Fragments of charcoal, deer horn
and stone cup - from Broch at Gartymore, Helmsdale'.
Information from OS (W D J) 28 May 1960.

Stone cup - Acc No: X57
Information from TS of the Catalogue of Dunrobin Museum by A S Henshall.

Bloom of iron and part of a small triangular crucible found at
this site, were donated to the NMAS by J G Murray, Gartymore.
Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1962.

ND01 4 DUN PHAIL ('Gartymore') ND/0148 1387
Site of a broch in Kildonan, Suther-land, near the shore at Gartymore. In 1841 it was reported to have been a "very large Pictish tower" which "crowned the brow of the high ground close to the public road and about half way between Portgower and Helmsdale" [1]. Only an amorphous mound of turf-covered stones remains, the large stones forming the foundations having been dug up for building purposes a few years earlier [1]. Some walling was exposed in 1959 and a few artifacts recovered, including a bloom of iron and a triangular crucible [3]. A stone cup from the site is in Dunrobin Museum together with fragments of charcoal and deer horn [1].
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 01 SW 2: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 134, no. 387: 3. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 93 (1959-60), 253 (donations). <1>

The crucible is listed under GA 1268 in the NMS catalogue. It is described as small grey and triangular, with deposits at the lip. The iron bloom is listed under GA 1269. <2>

The stone cup was loaned from Dunrobin to Timespan Museum. See attached photo. <23>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred ND 0147 1386 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND01SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish KILDONAN

Finds (5)

  • CUP (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • PIN (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SLAG (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • CRUCIBLE (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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