MHG3395 - Dun - Castle Spynie


Castle Spynie dun

Type and Period (2)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

NH54SW 9 5414 4204.

(NH 5414 4204) Castle Spynie (NAT)
Broch (NR)
OS 25" map, (1969)

Castle Spynie is described by Feachem (R W Feachem 1963) as a broch with outworks, and by Anderson (G Anderson 1857) and MacKenzie (G Mackenzie 1857) as a fort.
Anderson states that from the middle of the N side of the fort itself are indications of a second wall, with below it a ditch which curves around the whole of the NE and E sides. This ditch has an outer breastwork composed of a line of large upright stones. About a dozen pieces of vitrification were found between these stones and the fort. Below this is another ditch, four or five feet deep, fronted by a mound of earth and stones.
G Anderson 1857; G Mackenzie 1857

Castle Spynie is a near-circular dun, measuring about 19.5m overall, occupying the summit of a prominent rocky hill. The outer face is visible intermittently amidst tumble around the whole periphery to a maximum height of 1.0m, and the inner face can be seen in the SW arc to a height of 0.8m, indicating a wall thickness of about 4.0m. The entrance in the SW, 1.0m wide, has been cleared of stones, and the SE side rebuilt.
Around the NE and SW sides of the dun at a lower level, are traces of outworks, overgrown with bracken and trees, which appear to have connected with natural out-crop and cliff to form a complete, encircling, outer defence. In the NE is a curving line of boulders, some of which are displaced, fronted by two walls which are reduced to stony banks of indeterminate thickness. Only at the extreme S end of the outer wall where it connects with the cliff can the outer face be seen. Nothing is visible of the ditches described by Anderson and MacKenzie, nor of the second wall from the middle of the N side of the dun.
Some 30.0m SW of the dun is a curving ditch, c. 4.0m wide and c. 1.0m maximum depth, the N part of which incorporates outcrop on its inner side. Immediately to the N of this is a discontinuious line of at least four boulders which partially block the only logical means of access to the dun.
There is no trace of vitrifaction on or around the site, and the present remains of the dun itself indicate beyond doubt that it was not a timber-laced structure.
See 1:1250 enlargement.
Visited by OS (N K B) 9 December 1970

Broch, Castle Spynie: The remains of what is probably a broch occupy the summit of a rocky knoll 600 m WNW of Leanach. It measures 11 m in diameter within a wall 4.3 m thick; the entrance is on the SW. There are outworks on the N and SW.

Castle Spynie has some of the prerequisites of a broch in that it is roughly circular, 19.0 m in diameter over all and has an unboubted wall thickness of 4.2 m in the SSE. However, the outer face of the wall lacks in the base courses any massive or large stones expected in supporting a relatively high wall; also the wall exterior is grounded on the slope about 1m below interior level, a mode of construction commonly observed in duns. Furthermore, the amount of debris around and at the base of the structure is commensurate with a dun rather that a broch.
On balance, in the absence of evidence of mural chambers and / or galleries, a dun is the appropriate classification.
Visited by OS (J M) 6 Feburary 1981.

The monument comprises the remains of a broch, measuring overall 19.5m in diameter within a wall measuring 4.0m wide and 1.0m high with inner and outer faces occasionally visible. The entrance is in the south west. Below the broch on the north east is an outer defence consisting of a line of boulders and a rampart and ditch. To the south west of the broch another ditch provides added defence.
Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated March 1989.

NH/5414 4204
This probable broch (or dun) in Kintarlity and Convinth, Inverness-shire, occupies a rocky knoll with steep sides on the north side and shallower approaches on the south and west; it stands near the south shore of the Beauly Firth. The diagnosis of this site as either a hollow-walled broch or a solid-walled dun has not yet been finally determined, although the absence of large quantities of stone debris may indicate the latter [1].
The entrance has been cleared and is on the south-west, but there are no signs of the door-frame. The outer wallface is visible intermittently, and on the north-west it stands four courses (1.0m) high above the rubble; the inner face can be seen on the south-west to a maximum height of 0.8m. No signs of an intramural gallery can be seen at present. Traces of outer fortifications are visible including, on the north-east, a section of curved wall composed of gigantic boulders fronted by two walls which are now reduced to stony banks [1]. Ditches were described in 1857 [2] but nothing of these can be seen now.
Dimensions (taken by author in 1985): wall thickness at 1 o'clock 3.9m (13.0 ft), diameter on 1-7 o'clock axis 19.95m (66.5 ft), wall thickness at 4 o'clock 3.9m (13 ft) and internal diameter here 10.8m (36 ft). The structure may thus be slightly oval, with estimated overall diameters of 19.95 and 18.60m.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NH 54 SW 9: 2. Anderson 1857, 188-9: 3. Mackenzie 1857, 189-91 and fig.: 4. Feachem 1963, 164: 5. RCAHMS 1979b, 17, no. 100. <1>

R Spencer-Jones of NOSAS undertook a walkover photographic survey at Castle Spynie dun on 18/10/16. This dun is now much overgrown, with mature trees growing in the interior. <2>

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred NH 5414 4204 (87m by 91m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH54SW
Geographical Area INVERNESS

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