MHG25170 - Broch - Loch Poll an Dunain


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • BROCH (Early Iron Age to 19th Century - 550 BC to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NC00NW 3.00 0289 0694.

3.01 NC 0283 0693 Kelp kilns (ACHIL94 81)
3.02 NC 0299 0695 Kelp kilns (ACHIL94 79)

(NC 0289 0694) "Broch - robbed within living memory". (Nothing, other than buildings of simple rectangular plan, on OS 6"map, 1881).
OS 6"map annotated by I Crawford, September 1961.

Situated on a narrow grassed-over shingle bar between the sea shore and a reed-grown loch is a mound surmounted by the foundations of a circular structure. The mound is steep-sided and apparently artifical, with a maximum height of 2.8m on the N side. The structure, occupying the whole of its level top, has been robbed to ground level, probably for the construction of the houses and outbuildings round the base of the mound. A section of the inner face of the walling is exposed in a pit dug against it. This wall is well- constructed, the lower courses from carefully selected stones and the upper ones from shale. The curve of the visible section of wall would give an internal diameter of 9.0m. The wall seems to have been c. 3.9m thick.
There is now no trace of an entrance or of chambering within the walls, but Mr Fraser (D Fraser, Achiltibuie) said that his grandmother remembered seeing chambers prior to its destruction. It is marked on a chart of 1858 as "ancient tower". (Information from Admiralty chart of Achiltibuie, 1858) The remaining evidence, scant as it is, suggests that this is a broch rather than a dun.
Visited by OS (G H P) 25 May 1962.

(NC 0289 0694) Broch (NR)

The remains of a dun or small broch partly covered by a ruined cottage. (After his introductory reference to a broch, MacKie {E W MacKie 1968) refers to the structure as a dun).
It appears to be circular with an internal diameter of 23' - 24', the wall probably being preserved to a height of 5' or more under the rubble.
The broad marsh, Loch Poll an Dunain, behind the dun was probably once a sea loch, in which case the site would lie on a narrow strip of land between the loch and the sea.
E W MacKie 1968.

Undoubtedly the overgrown remains of a broch. The inner face is exposed to a height of 1.2m in the E and traces of it are visible here and there round the rest of the periphery giving an internal diameter of 8.8m. Four or five outer facing stones visible in the debris give a wall thickness of 3.8m at three points, in the E, SW, and NW.
Visited by OS (J M) 16 July 1974.

On the pebble bar between the sea and Loch Poll an Dunain there are the remains of a broch overlain by a nineteenth-century farmstead. On the bar to the W and to the E there are two groups of kelp kilns (3.01, 3.02).
The broch (ACHIL94 74) is partly obscured by the later buildings and their associated dykes. It has suffered from stone robbing and the remains are now grassed over, but much of the circuit of the inner face can be followed, and fragments of the outer face are also visible, albeit at different levels, on the SE, SW and W, which together define a structure 8.8m in diameter within a wall about 4m thick at the top and at least 4.5m thick towards the base. The remains stand 2.2m high on the S. The entrance is not visible, but a large hole in the wall core on the S may indicate a collapsed entrance passage or an intra-mural chamber, although it may also be at least partly the result of stone robbing; a depression in the NE may also indicate a collapsed chamber. The interior is filled with rubble, but a large hole dug into this rubble on the E side has exposed a stretch of inner face 1.2m high. Around the broch there may have been an outwork, almost destroyed by the later structures. This has been inferred from a slight scarp which curves around the S and SE of the broch and short stretches of stony bank on the E and W, which together define an area measuring 45m E-W by up to 22m transversely, with the broch at its centre.
The farmstead consists of four buildings, three on the SW side of the broch, one on the E side, a fifth structure to the S which may be an out-house or a boat naust, and a number of small enclosures. The largest building is on the SW side of the broch (ACHIL94 76). It measures 10.4m NNW-SSE by 4.3m transversely within faced-rubble walls 0.65m thick which stand vitually complete apart from the SSE gable, which has collapsed. It has an entrance in the WSW side, and it is divided into two compartments, each of which has a splayed window to the WSW and the remains of a fireplace against the end wall. There is a third window in the ENE wall of the SSE compartment, next to which there is an aumbry, set into the partition. To the ENE of this building, and separated from it by the width of a narrow passage, there are two small outhouses (ACHIL94 75) set hard against the broch. That to the NNE measures 2.7m square within walls 0.55m thick; it has an intact gable on the NNW and an entrance on the WSW. A straight joint at the S corner suggests that this outbuilding has been added to its neighbour to the SSE, with which it shares a gable. The SSE building has been built against the outer face of the broch on the ENE side. It appears to have measured internally 3.4m in length by 1.5m in breadth, but the length has been reduced by a buttress against the NNE wall. There is an entrance on the WSW and another (now blocked) in the SSE end.
To the N of these buildings, towards the loch, there is an enclosure whose E wall climbs over the NW quadrant of the broch, and to the WSW of the larger building there is a second enclosure or yard, with a pen in its SW corner, the yard defined by a wall at least partly founded on the possible outwork of the broch. This group of buildings has been reused recently for folding sheep - windows and some entrances have been blocked, and wooden pens have been built within the larger building.
The fourth building stands on the E side of the broch (ACHIL94 77). It measures 7.3m ESE-WNW by 3.8m transversely within mortared-rubble walls 0.6m thick, which stand to their original height of 1.9m at each side. The ESE gable is also complete, but the WNW gable has partly collapsed. The entrance is in the centre of the SSW wall, flanked by two windows. There is a third window in the ESE end at attic level. No internal partion survives, but the building has a fireplace at each end, and a complete chimney on the ESE. There is an outshot built into the side of the broch on the WNW, above which there is another length of wall, probably built to retain the core of the broch wall. To the SSW of the building there is a subrectangular yard, and on top of the bar to the ESE, 11m and 26m from the end wall of the building, there are two circular stances 3m in diameter.
The possible naust is situated to the S of the broch, just above High Water Mark (ACHIL94 80). It measures 6.6m N-S by 2.7m transversely within the footings of a rubble wall 0.9m thick and up to 0.4m high. The entrance is in the S end. The position of this structure so close to the shore makes it a likely naust, but the difficulty with this interpretation is that half of the S end is closed off by the footings of a wall which, if it stood to any height, would have left a gap too narrow for a boat. About 15m to the E of this structure, again just above High Water Mark, there is a row of three, possibly four subcircular depressions each about 3m in diameter. These may be pits for burning kelp, although they are more simple affairs than the kilns described under NC00NW 3.01 and 3.02.
The 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Cromartyshire 1881, sheet iii) depicts the large building to the WSW of the broch, along with the SSE outhouse. It also depicts the enclosure to the N and outlines the broch as a hillock. The 2nd edition (Ross and Cromarty 1906, sheet iii) shows those buildings, still roofed, and also depicts the house on the E side of the broch.
(ACHIL94 74-7, 79-81)
Visited by RCAHMS (SDB) 19 May 1994

NC00 1 ACHILTIBUIE (‘Loch Poll an Dunain’)
NC/02989 0694
This probable broch or dunin Lochbroom, Ross and Cromarty, stands on a narrow, grassed-over shingle bar between the sea shore and the reed-grown Loch Poll an Dunain (visited in 1968). This marsh was probably once a sea loch in which case the site would originally have stood on a narrow strip of land between the loch and the sea [2]. It was described in 1961 as a “broch robbed within living memory” [1].
The structure stands on top of an apparently artificial mound, and a section of the inner face was seen standing to a height of 1.2m on the east [1]. Other traces of the same face suggest that the internal diameter is c. 9.0m, and the wall seems to be about 3.8m thick. In 1962 a Mr Fraser of Achiltibuie said that his grandmother remembered seeing chambers in the building before it was pillaged of stone [1]. There are at present no means of deciding whether the building is a broch or a round dun.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC 00 NW 3: 2. E W MacKie in Discovery and Excavation Scotland 1968, 42. <1>

A programme of archaeological work was undertaken, 31 October – 4 November 2016. The work was commissioned by the Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Partnership and aimed to contribute to the Achlochan Coastal Heritage Project by providing a survey, condition assessment and management recommendations for the cultural heritage of the Achlochan Peninsular. The work consisted of a walkover and topographic survey of the peninsular, ranging from the crofts at Polglass to the point marked as Rudha Dunan on the early editions of OS maps (now referred to as Rubha Dunan).
A high resolution 3D laser scan was undertaken at the Loch Poll an Dunain Broch and associated croft, and small scale excavations were carried out at one of the structures on the foreshore. Several previously unrecorded structures were found during the survey works. These included a circular turf-walled structure, possibly a hut circle, and several oval turf built huts probably of more recent date. <2>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NC 0289 0694 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC00NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish LOCHBROOM

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