MHG4348 - Dun Deardail, Glen Nevis, Lochaber


A vitrified fort on the sloping summit of an eminence on the western flank of Glen Nevis.

Type and Period (2)

  • FORT (Early Bronze Age to Pictish - 2400 BC? to 900 AD?)
  • VITRIFIED STONE (Early Iron Age to Pictish - 550 BC? to 900 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

NN17SW 6 1270 7012.

(NN 1270 7012) Dun Deardail (NR) (Remains of Vitrified Fort) (NAT)
OS 6" map (1902)

Dun Deardail, a vitrified fort, occupies the sloping summit of an eminence on the W flank of Glen Nevis. It is near-pear-shaped on plan with its long axis lying ENE-WSW, and measures internally c.46.0m by c.27.0m at its widest in the WSW and c.11.0m at the narrowest part in the ENE. The ruinous stone wall is spread to a maximum of c.8.0m in the N, and to a minumum of c.4.5m at the entrance in the W, with a maximum height of c.2.5m, and shows numerous lumps of vitrifaction, but no evidence of built masonry. The interior slopes down unevenly from E to W, with, in the E, two stony scarps turning N-S supporting two level platforms. The lower of these is presumably what RCAHMS (MSs notes, 3 July 1956, R W Feachem) describes as "a secondary internal division, possibly recent", but there is nothing to show that it is not contemporary with the fort. The entrance, marked by a gap at the lowest point in the wall, shows no trace of "a wall foundation 23ft long flanking its S side" described by Christison (1889). A faint path up the NW slope to the entrance is probably the original approach.
Around the top of a lower knoll approximately 120.0m N of the fort are traces of a wall, noted by Christison and described by Feachem as an outer defence, but by OS (ASP; 18 July 1961) as natural. It appears to be the scant remains of an associated enclosure wall rather than a defence, and can be traced around the E, N and W sides of the knoll. At each end it disappears in marshy ground at the base of the eminence on which the fort stands. Traces of what is probably a continuation of the same wall occur to the S of the fort and here it seems to have terminated on the rock face forming part of the SE defences. Within this enclosure, at the base of the N slopes of the fort beside a marshy area, is a circular depression c.4.0m diameter, c.0.5m deep which is probably a well or cistern. Feachen compares this enclosure wall with a similar structure at Torr Dhuin, Auchteraw, Invernessshire (NH30NW), and it is similar, although on a smaller scale, to that at Tap o'Noth, Banffshire. (NJ42NE 1).
The name, now spelled Dun Deardail, has been in dispute in the past being published as Dundbhairdghall on OS 6" 1873, and noted as Deardinl and Dun dearg suil by MacCulloch, and Dun dear duil by W Johnson (Plan of the Lordship of Lochaber, 1831; West Highland Museum, Fort William). Surveyed at 1/10,000.
Visited by OS (AA) 18 May 1970

The site was visited and photographed by a member of the Highland Council in or prior to April 1994. <1> <2> <3> <4> <5> <6> <7> <8> <9> <10>

A topographic archaeological survey was carried out by Headland between September 2010 and February 2011 as part of a Forestry Commission project to survey five Iron Age forts, four of which were in Highland region. <11>

This site was included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <12>

A piece of vitrified stone from Dun Deardail was acquired by the NMS in 1905 from Colonel McHardy. It was one of eight pieces collected from the walls of various forts. Acc. No. HH 86. <13>

Sources/Archives (22)



Grid reference Centred NN 1271 7014 (150m by 173m)
Map sheet NN17SW
Civil Parish KILMALLIE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (5)

External Links (3)

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