MHG12113 - Broch - An Dun


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Type and Period (2)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

An Dun, Loch a’ Chairn Bhain, Kylesku, NC23SW0001
(NC 2170 3411) An Dun (NAT) Broch (NR)
OS 6"map, (1967)

Broch, An Dun, Loch a' Chairn Bhain, Kylesku: This ruin stands towards the end of a rocky promontory or islet, connected with the shore by a causeway about 70' long, 10' wide and 2' high, formed of boulders. It is only separated from the mainland at high tides. The rock projects into Loch a' Chairn Bhain, near its S end, for a distance of about 100 yds. The structure on the end of it is circular, with an interior diameter of 28'6" or there- about. The thickness of the wall is some 12', except that on the NE, where in order to cover an approach between two rocks, it widens to 14' or 15'. The height of the wall to the outside is covered by debris, but inside where highest on the S it is 7' high, and except toward the N, several feet in height all round. The entrance has been from the SE and is 3' wide at the only point observable, which is between the two lowest stones on either side at the outer end. There are no signs visible of chambers in the thickness of the wall, nor any traces of a gallery. The edge of the rock about 20' from the broch appears to have been strengthened on the landward side with a wall. RCAHMS 1911.

The site was scheduled in 1938.

A mural gallery has been exposed by rubble removal on the NW side of the broch where the wall thickness exceeds 4m. It is 0.8m wide reached from the inner court by a stepped opening 0.75m wide, by which there is a side-chamber 2m by 1.4m. It continues E for 2m culminating in eight steps up to the present crown of the wall. The inner wall is 1.6m thick. On top of the wall, to SW, a later rectangular structure of heavy build, 5m by 2.6m, probably a dwelling was noted.
T C Welsh 1971.

Brochs are round, tower-like houses, their monumental size intended to display the wealth and status of the agricultural communities who lived in them. They were occupied in the later Iron Age and occur frequently in the north and west of Scotland. (41)
This broch is in a very similar position to the broch at An Dun in Loch Ardbhair, except that here the rock on which the broch stands is connected to the shore by a natural rock causeway. Even so, at high tide, this causeway is covered. (46)
A small steatite bowl was found turned upside down on one of the steps of the intra-mural gallery. (18)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford
RCAHMS. 1911. Sutherland. Edinburgh: HMSO, 56, No. 108.
Gourlay, R., 1996. Sutherland. An Archaeological Guide. Edinburgh: Birlinn.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

Recorded in survey by Dr Thomas C. Welsh, Sept. 1998.
See assoc. docs.
EM 18/08/2004

This is not a broch; it is a galleried dun.
The inner wall face can be seen without a break except in the SW where it is hidden by debris and a modern 'shelter' described by Welsh as a dwelling. The dun is a sub-circular measuring 9.7m NNW-SSE by 8.8m within a wall varying in thickness between 4.8m in the NNW and 3.7m in the SE. The outer face is straight in places. The debris-filled entrance passage, 4.8m long and 1.1m wide, runs obliquely through the wall in the WSW. A gallery, 0.8m wide, has been recently exposed in the N. There is a splayed aperture into it through the wall from the interior of the dun at a height of 0.7m above what appears to be the original floor level. From this aperture the gallery runs E for 1.4m to the base of a stairway ascending by eight steps to the present crown of the wall. W of the aperture, the gallery extends into what Welsh describes as a side chamber, but which is in fact a recent construction. In the floor of this construction a single horizontal slab 1.5m from the aperture may represent the foundation of the end of the gallery. There is no trace of any other intra-mural features. A small near circular steatite dish, 6cms in diameter and 2cms deep, was found at the beginning of August 1974 by Miss Fiona Chisholm, Kylestrome, and is still in her possession. It was found inverted on a stone at the side of the gallery stair. She also found a finger ring which she describes as being of "silver with punched decoration," but she lost it amongst the wall debris. The outwork across the NE approach consists of a ruinous boulder-faced wall about 2.0m thick which incorporates several outcrops. It isolates a sub-rectangular area some 12.0m NW-SE by 10.0m NE-SW immediately outside the NE arc of the dun. No entrance is evident through it. The causeway, with little doubt contemporary, averages 2.2m in width, and is faced with boulders on either side.
Surveyed at 1:10560. (OS {W D J} 21 April 1961.
Visited by OS (A A) 21 August 1974.

It is by no means certain that An Dun is not a broch. The large quantity of tumble both within and outside the structure would indicate a wall of considerable height commensurate with a broch, and the relative straightness of the wall faces in places may be due to deformation subsequent to its construction. This may also account for the lack of circularity of the enclosed area and the differential wall thickness; the breadth of the wall at the entrance can be measured at near ground level whereas elswhere measurements are taken at about first floor level. The size of the islet would restrict the size of any structure occupying it.
Though the wall construction where visible is somewhat 'lightweight', i.e. more typical of a dun, on balance this fortification is most likely to be a broch (cf NC13SE 1)
Visited by OS (N K B) 22 August 1980.

NW SUT Local Plan, May 1987: P23/2.36.
J Aitken : 11/06/01.

The scheduling was reassessed by Historic Environment Scotland in 2018. It was proposed that the description be updated and the scheduled area should be enlarged. <1>

The proposed amendments by Historic Environment Scotland took effect on 01/08/2018. <2> <3>

GIS spatial data amended in 2019 according to location of site as shown on modern OS mapping. <4>

The steatite bowl was allocated by Treasure Trove (TT 59/01) to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery where it is listed under Acc. No. 2002.088. See attached TT summary sheet. <5> <6> <7>

This site was included in Mackie's 2007 'The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC - AD 500: Architecture and material culture'. See link below to HES Canmore record which includes the chapter on this site. <8>

Sources/Archives (19)



Grid reference Centred NC 2170 3412 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC23SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND

Finds (1)

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

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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