MHG12239 - Broch, An Dun


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Type and Period (1)

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

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Full Description

NC13SE 1 1688 3323.
An Dun (NR) OS 6"map, (1967)

An Dun, Loch Ardbhair, NC13SE0001

Brochs are round, tower-like houses, their monumental size intended to display wealth and status of 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 stands on an isolated rock within Loch Ardbhair. At low tide it is connected to the shore by a rough causeway made of large boulders. At high tide only the part of the rock on which the broch stands lies clear of he water. (46)
The uniqueness of its position means that An Dun is smaller than most other brochs. Its circular shape and the unbalanced relationship between wall thickness and overall diameter conform to the broch type. (33)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
RCAHMS. 1911. Sutherland. Edinburgh: HMSO, 2, No. 4.
Gourlay, R., 1996. Sutherland. An Archaeological Guide.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

An Dun, Loch Ardbhair: This broch or dun stands on isolated rock at S end of Loch Ardbhair on E shore, c100' from mainland, to which it is connected by rough causeway of boulders, part displaced. The broch is only approachable at low tide and at high water there is little space between edge of rock and base of building. It is a dry-built circular construction with interior diameter of 24', wall being 10'6" thick near base. The entrance passage is from S, only 2' wide at interior end and remains to height of 3'6" on left side. The exterior end is not measureable. Of outside wall, only one or two of lowest courses of building remain visible in places, rest is concealed by ruins. The interior has probably been cleared of debris, there wall exists to a height of 7'4". There are no signs of chambers in walls, nor of galleries, building is poor, stones are not carefully selected and laid, and numerous interstices are packed with small angular fragments. (RCAHMS 1911)
Listed as a broch. (A Graham 1949)
Visited by OS (CFW) 9 September 1960; RCAHMS 1911; A Graham 1949. <1>,<2>

"An Dun": A well-preserved circular dun 6.9m diameter internally. The wall varies in thickness between 3.1m at entrance and 3.6m in W arc, is battered internally and externally. The entrance passage in SSE is 0.7m wide contracting to 0.6m at its inner extremity; 1.1m along its W side from the inner end, 0.7m long, leading at right angles into wall core, a fragment of built walling is suggestive of entrance to a guard chamber. There is no indication of any other intra-mural features.
Visited by OS (J M) 14 August 1974.

This dun or broch as described by previous authorities except that the stonework is not remarkably poor. Its circularity, relative lack of natural defensiveness, proportion of wall thickness to overall diameter are features encountered in most brochs, and quantity of tumble is commensurate with a wall of considerable height. Reservations on it being a broch are caused by its small size, and absence of evidence of intra-mural chambers. On balance it is more likely to be a broch. (See also NC23SW 1)
Visited by OS (J B) 14 August 1980.

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

NC13 1 LOCH ARDBHAIR NC/1688 3323
Probable broch in Assynt, Sutherland, standing on an isolated tidal rocky islet at the inner end of the sea loch of that name. A causeway about 100m long connects it with the shore. The inner and outer faces of the circular drystone structure can be tracedin places, suggesting an internal diameter of 7.32m (24ft) and a wall thick-ness of 3.15m (10ft 6in); the inner face stands 2.24m (7ft 4in) high in places.
An entrance passage is visible on the south side, only 60cm (2ft) wide at the outer end and standing 1.07m (3ft 6in) high on the left side [1]; there is a suggestion of the doorway to a guard chamber in the left wall 1.1m from the inner end [1]. There are no traces of intra-mural galleries or cells, and the quality of the masonry is not high.
Dimensions: the most recent figures [1] are an internal diameter of 6.9m and a wall which is 3.1m thick at the entrance and 3.6m on the west.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC 13 SE 1: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 2, no. 4: 3. Graham 1949, 95. <3>

Visited by the Assynt's Hidden Lives project in December 2009. A well preserved Atlantic roundhouse with walls averaging 3.5m thick and standing to over 2.5m in height is sited on a tidal islet in Loch Ardbhair. The outer wall face is visible on the north side, but obscured by rubble elsewhere. The roundhouse has an internal diameter of 7m. There are stairs to the left of what appears to be the original the entrance on the SE side. Three steps are visible, c.0.7m wide lead between inner and outer walls. The entrance to the structure is 0.7m wide at the internal wall face, widening at the exterior. The rubble from the collapse of the walls spreads to c.4m out from the outer wall, and there is evidence that the S side is slumping/collapsing.
It was reported to the present surveyors that a trench had previously been excavated on the inside of the roundhouse from NE to SW, c.1m wide by c.5m long from the SW face. A grassy rubble mound on the NE side of the iselt may indicate the presence of spoil from this excavation. <4>

Sources/Archives (9)



Grid reference Centred NC 1687 3323 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC13SE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish ASSYNT

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