MHG13985 - Broch - Dun Grianan


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Type and Period (1)

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

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Full Description

Dun Grianan, NG56NW0001

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 are common in the north and west of Scotland. (41).
Dun Grianan sits on a low promontory sticking out into Loch Mealt, on the east side of the Trotternish peninsula in the north of Skye. Its position creates a sense of separation from the surrounding landscape, which increases the impression of this as a high-status building. (46)
Much of the stonework of the broch has been removed, probably for re-use in the adjacent sheepfank and in later buildings. As a result, only the foundation course survives along the south side. Even so, the circular shape of the broch, the entrance passage and a long passage inserted into the drystone wall, are recognisable. (55)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
RCAHMS. 1928. The Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles. Edinburgh: HMSO, 169, No. 539.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

The site lies on a low property in Loch Mealt and currently appears from a distance as a low stone mound which is predominately grass covered. Access to the site is by walking down the croft to the east of the tree line plantation through an area of rough field, and then across a very marshy area which has been planted with trees (not terribly successfully). Access to the broch is then across a narrow neck of land projecting into the loch. It appears that this area of land may well become flooded at times. The remains of both inner and outer walls are clearly visible although the outer wall would appear to be submerged on the loch side. There are clear traces of the gallery within the wall in the northern sector. The interior wall of the broch is clearer although there are traces of vegetation which has died down and there is a sizeable pile of stones in the middle of the interior. This is perhaps tumble from the broch collapse. It is likely that the inner face is, as suggested by the RCAHMS, re-built relatively recently. The entrance to the gallery is as described by the OS in 1961. There is also a significant tumble further to the east of this, about 3 metres along the wall face, which may indicate the presence of an entrance way into the gallery. A large amount of collapsed stone can be seen in the shallow water at the edge of the broch in the loch. It is possible that the loch water level could be at least 2 to 3 feet higher than it is currently during wet times. No sign of any recent disturbance or damage. DML January 2000

NG56NW 1 5055 6529.

NG 5055 6529 Dun Greanan (NR) Dun Grianan (NR)
OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904) and OS 1"map, (1947)

Dun Greanan occupies the extremity of a low promontory on the N shore of Loch Mealt. Apparently it has been a broch but the greater part has been removed and what remains is used as a sheep fank. The outline of the structure is traceable for the greater part of its circumference. On the NW and NE quadrants about 3' of building remains in position, although towards the NE it is hidden under fallen debris. On the S half it is reduced to the foundation course and for a short distance this has been carried away. Although the inner face of the wall stands some 4' in height, most of this has been rebuilt in recent times. The internal diameter of the broch, which seems form almost a true circle, is 35' 3", and the wall is 10' thick on the W and 11' on the N. A gallery within the wall, about 2'2" width, is traceable the whole length of the NW sector, and in places along the S arc there seem to be traces of the inner wall of the gallery.
On the E side of the dun looking out into the loch there are very faint indications of the S side of an entrance passage.
Included in a list of Brochs (Graham 1949).
RCAHMS 1928; A Graham 1949.

Dun Greanan, a broch, as described above. An entrance to the gallery is visible on the N sector, 0.4m wide, the lintel stone 0.2m above the present interior ground level.
Of the entrance in the E sector, the footings of its south side are visible across the thickness of the wall, with traces of the North side. Visited by OS (A S P) 25 April 1961.

NG/5055 6529
This badly dilapidated probable ground-galleried broch in Kilmuir, Skye, stands on a low, short promontory on the north shore of Lochmealt and next to an area of flat farmland; it must often have been robbed for stones in the past (visited in 1963 and 22/06/88). Much of the outer wallface is reduced to the lowest course, but the inner face of the mural gallery – clearly at ground level – is easily traceable much of the way round. Both faces can be seen in the west and north-west and two of its lintels are in place on the north-west arc. In the north-north-west – facing inland – can be seen a lintelled door to the gallery from the interior with a possible second such door in the south-west [4]. Part of the foundations are just under water at present [4, plan]. The inner face is about 1.2m (4 ft) high but has been rebuilt in modern times. A trace of the entrance passage was noted on the east side [2] and this is confirmed by Swanson [4].
The lintels over the gallery on the north-west side are only about 20cm above the rubble in the interior [4] so, despite its dilapidated appearance and closeness to the water level, Dun Grianan may be standing at least 1.5m high as far as the central court is concerned.
Dimensions: internal diameter about 10.75m (35 ft 3 in), wall thickness 3.05m (10 ft) on the west and 3.3m (11 ft) on the north; so the external diameter is about 17.lm (56 ft) and the wall pro-portion about 37.5%.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NG 56 NW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 169, no. 539: 3. MacSween 1984-85, 44, no. 19 and fig. 19: 4. Swanson (ms) 1985, 819-21 and plan. <1>

Sources/Archives (19)



Grid reference Centred NG 5054 6532 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG56NW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish KILMUIR

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