MHG5018 - Broch - Dun Beag


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • BROCH (Early Iron Age to Norse - 550 BC to 1300 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Dun Beag, Struanmore, NG33NW0003A

Dun Beag stands on a rocky knoll, which is easily approached from the south-west, where the ground slopes gently down towards Loch Bracadale. On the northern side, the ground rises more steeply towards the much larger, and probably earlier, fort of Dun Mor, 400m away. (45)
When Dr Johnson visited Dun Beag in the 1770’s there were several circular structures in the centre of the broch, now no longer visible. He believed the broch had been used to keep cattle secure at night, at times when cattle raiding was common. (44)
The interior of Dun Beag is very well preserved. Door checks to hold a wooden door in place are visible just inside the entrance. The two small cells within the wall on either side of the entrance are generally thought to be guard chambers; however, neither are typical as they can only be entered from inside the broch. (58)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
Callander, J.G., 1920-1. ‘Report on the excavation of Dun Beag, a broch near Struan, Skye.’ PSAS 55, 110-
Ritchie, G., and Harman, M., 1996. Exploring Scotland’s Heritage. Argyll and the Western Isles. Edinburgh: HMSO, 129, No. 58.
RCAHMS. 1928. The Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles. Edinburgh: HMSO, 142, No. 479.
[photo. Could be a detail of the stonework or interior, but HS already have a general shot]
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

There is a car park on the main B885 road immediately beside the broch with picnic tables. The path way to the broch is immediately across the road and is sign posted by Historic Scotland. There is an interpretative board at the site which has been provided by the then Highland Regional Council Department of Libraries and Leisure Services. This is still in good condition and shows a plan of the broch along with illustrations of finds recovered from the broch during the excavations in 1914to 1920. The interpretative panel is still in good condition and has not been vandalised in any way. Interpretative board is black text on aluminium. Access to the broch is through a kissing gate beside a gate in the fence. This is in a good state of repair. The broch is then accessed by walking up a grassy slope. The broch is situated on a knoll and is a good vantage point in the surrounding relatively low lying area. The knoll in which the broch is situated is very rocky and there is evidence of cultivation in the surrounding area in the form of field banks and traces of rig and furrow. Whether or not the field banks are contemporary with the brochs is of course impossible to ascertain without excavation. There are traces of structures around the broch again difficult to ascertain whether or not these are contemporary. For the main part they are small maily about 2 metres in diameter and are kind of a sub rectangular shape reminiscent of sheiling huts. There is another interpretative board on top of the knoll which appears to have been more recently supplied by Historic Scotland. The board features a reconstruction drawing of how the broch might have appeared and text details about the broch. The broch appears very much as its description by the Royal Commission. The entrance is in the south, there is a small cell on the right hand side of the entrance as you walk in which is still in good condition. The broch does not appear to have deterated in any way and certainly does not appear to be suffering abuse from visitors. Traces of steps are evident in the South West section the broch. This cell in the South West has had at least 12 steps, these discontinue at the current top of the broch. Once at the broch the view across the surrounding landscape is astounding and this would have provided a wonderful place for defence. There are views for miles in each direction. The broch walls are built of fairly large stone which may well had been dressed and are very very sturdy. There is traces of bedrock and still know trace of the later buildings as recorded by Penit Johnston in 1772 – 1773. The cell in the eastern side of the doorway is accessed through a loan stone opening in the inner edge of the broch with has a large lintel stone. This appears just to be a circular chamber. The entrance passage way seem to have been paved. The walls are currently standing to around 6 or 7 feet in height and in general at least 3 to 4 course of stone work are easily visible before the turf appear to start growing. There are traces of at least 4 to 5 buildings immediately obvious in the surrounding area although the area is much covered with rushes and it is possible that there is more. The area is currently used for sheep grazing and there are traces of rig and furrow in the immediate vicinity of the broch. These structures may well be later as the excavation reports do indicate that the broch is seem use over may centuries. There is a near by stream which is quite a decent fresh water supply for the broch, stream lines to the North West to the broch.

NG33NW 3 3395 3861.

NG 3395 3861 Dun Beag (NR)
OS 6" map, Inverness, 2nd ed., (1904)

Dun Beag is a broch near Struan and is situated at the N end of a small rocky eminence about 200ft above sea level. Access to it is from the S as for more than half its diameter on the N side it is within 4ft of the rocky edge. The broch was excavated from 1914 to 1920 by Countess Vincent Baillet de Latour, FSA Scot.
The inner court is circular and the diameter is 35ft. The outside diameter is about 60ft. The doorway faces slightly S of E, just where the wall curves inwards from the edge of the plateau.
In the interior, 16ft of wall facing SW was found in the NE sector, and a network of drains at various levels. These seem to be of later date as nearly all the finds were at the lowest levels.
Structures described by Pennent (Pennent 1776) and Dr. Johnson, (see R W Chapman 1924) in 1772 or 1773, in the centre, were evidently of a later date and have disappeared.
As no definite layers of occupation were encountered, it is possible that the broch was used until comparatively recently. The erection and disappearance of these later buildings, sweeping away previous secondary buildings, seems to bear this out, as does the discovery of coins of Henry II, Edward I, James VI (Scots), George II and George III.
Other finds included many stone implements and utensils, a gold ring, bronze objects, a piece of folded sheet lead, iron and glass objects, a borer of bone, a pick made from an antler, much pottery and a stone cup. An armlet of glass covered with vitreous paste of different colours is similar to examples found in the lowest levels of Traprain Law (NT57SE 1) dated to probably about 100 AD. A complete crucible is almost identical with one found in the group of earth-houses at Foshigarry, N Uist.
The character of the ornamentation of a bronze buckle is more Scandinavian than Celtic and gold rings similar to the one found here have been found with Viking remains.
Considerable quantities of cattle and sheep bones were found and a cake of carbonised seeds, probably either oats or rye.
Several hundred glass beads found cannot be considered prehistoric relics.
J G Callender 1921; T Pennent 1776; R W Chapman 1924; A Graham 1949; RCAHMS 1928. <1>-<4>

Broch as described by Callender. Condition good. There are about 6 ruined houses to the N and E.
Visited by OS (C F W) 10 April 1961.

This site was included in Mackie's 2007 'The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC - AD 500: Architecture and material culture'. See link below to HES Canmore record which includes the chapter on this site. <5> <6>

Photographs of the Broch, its entrance and intra-mural staircase were forwarded to the HER by Paul Swan in August 2010. <7>

Lynn Fraser submitted a photograph of the broch via the Highland HER Facebook page. <8>

Evidence for later re-use of the broch in the late Viking/Norse period consists of a gold finger ring, bronze stick-pins, an ornamented belt buckle, a coin of Henry II (1154-89), and pottery (Graham-Campbell, James and Batey, Colleen E 1998, 78; illustrated in Callander 1920-21, p. 124). The gold ringer ring is formed from a plain band that tapers to rounded terminals. It is one of three gold finger rings found on Skye (Graham-Campbell 1995). <9>

The NMS catalogue lists flint scrapers and knives, hammerstones, polishers, rubbers, pebbles, stike-a-lights, a handled steatite vessel, discs, whorls, moulds, a stone pendant, a stone ball, crucible fragments, a gold ring, a bronze buckle, bronze pins, a button, bronze wire and rings, a bronze hook, fragments of unidentified bronze objects, an iron wire ring, a possible chain mail link, an iron bolt fragment, iron ferrule, an iron spearhead, an iron knife, a bone point, an antler pick, a fragment of a glass armlet, glass beads, pottery sherds, iron slag and a lead fragment. Listed under Acc. Nos. GA 1026- GA 1120. <10>

Sources/Archives (40)



Grid reference Centred NG 3395 3860 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG33NW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish BRACADALE

Finds (30)

  • HAMMERSTONE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • CUP (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • ROTARY QUERN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SLAG (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • CRUCIBLE (Early Iron Age to Norse - 550 BC? to 1300 AD?)
  • SHERD (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • STRIKE A LIGHT (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • DISC (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • ARMLET (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • FINGER RING (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • PIN (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • COIN (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)
  • MOULD (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • BEAD (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • KNIFE (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • PICK (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Early Iron Age to 19th Century - 550 BC? to 1900 AD?)
  • KNIFE (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • FLAKE (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • WIRE (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • GRAIN RUBBER (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • RING (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • PENDANT (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • STONE BALL (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SPEARHEAD (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • POINT (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (4)

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