MHG44136 - Possible Monastic Settlement - Rudha Na Crannaig, Eigg


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Type and Period (1)

  • MONASTIC SETTLEMENT (Early Medieval - 561 AD? to 1057 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

At NM 4910 8476 on a low rocky rise on the promontory of "Rudha na Crannaig" (?Point of the Pulpit), is a denuded fort. It is triangular on plan and measures 37.0m N-S by 21.0m across the S end, within a turf-covered wall spread generally to about 4m wide which has been quarried in places and has mainly fallen over the cliff on the E side. A few stones of the outer face are visible widely spaced around the periphery, and a stretch of the face about 5m long survives at the N end. One or two possible inner facing stones in the S and E suggest a wall thickness of c.2.5m. The entrance in the W side is marked by a gap 2.0m wide showing no structural features, but it appears to have been offset and the wall on its S side widens to about seven metres in width suggesting that there may have been a construction within it. The whole interior of the fort is occupied by traces of constructions and walls, some of which appear to be circular, but none showing sufficient structural detail to interpret with certainty.
About 20.0m to the N of the fort are traces of what may be a denuded outwork marked by a roughly curving line of intermittent boulders, but the sea has washed this area leaving boulder deposits and this could be a natural arrangement.
The internal constructions in the fort suggest a secondary, possible monastic occupation, and this could be the site of St Donan's Monastery (see NM 48 NE 15), but there is no conclusive evidence for this opinion. Enlargement at 1:1250.
Visible on RAF AP's 106G/Scot/UK 53:4079-80
Visited by OS (AA) 9 May 1972

This small fort occupies a slight rise on a rocky promontory to the S of Kildonnan farmhouse. Roughly triangular on plan, it measures about 36m from N to S by up to 24m transversely within a low wall now largely reduced to a grass-grown stony bank up to 5m thick. The outer face can be traced intermittently around the circuit of the wall, especially on the E and S, and two earthfast stones (one on the W, one on the E) may be remnants of the inner face, suggesting an original wall thickness of about 3m. The entrance is now represented by a simple gap on the W, approached from the N by a narrow track.
Within the fort there are the confused remains of several structures and stretches of stony bank, including subrectangular depressions that may mark the sites of buildings. Where a relationship with the fort can be shown, these features are clearly all later. Also within the fort, on the E side, there are the remains of a concrete plinth, presumably the foundations for modern signalling equipment.
About 20m N of the fort there are traces of a possible outwork, comprising the remnants of a wall drawn across the neck of the promontory, now reduced to little more than an arc of boulders about 20m in length, with a possible entrance halfway along its length. A length of turf bank to the SW of the fort, crossing the promontory from NW to SE, is probably modern.
There is nothing in the character of the structures within the fort to support the suggestion by the Ordnance Survey that they represent the remains of St Donnan's monastery. In the absence of further evidence, it is more prudent to assume that the monastery was centred on the area occupied by the medieval church (see NM48NE 24).
(EIGG01 495)
Visited by RCAHMS (AGCH), 12 October 2002.

An area of the fort was subject to geophysical survey by the University of Birmingham in 2006 as part of a project aimed at locating the possible site of the monastery founded by St Donan. Although several resistance anomalies were detected the results were not conclusive and it was considered that only excavation would reveal their true nature. <1>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NM 4914 8476 (100m by 100m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NM48SE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

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