MHG5031 - Dun Ard an T-Sabhail, Skye


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • BROCH (Undated)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NG33SW 1 3180 3333.

Dun Ard an T-Sabhail, NG33SW0001

Brochs were the defended homesteads of local chieftains in the Later Iron Age and are common in the northern and western Highlands. Dun Ard an T-Sabhail, with a complex series of walls enclosing the plateau on which it sits, is an elaborate example of such a broch. (47)
The broch itself is almost circular in shape. The entrance narrows as you pass though it and, unusually for a broch, has no evidence for the checks against which a wooden door would have rested. There appear to have been guard cells on either side of the passage. (48)
A narrow ledge, just under 1m above the present ground level, runs around the inside of the broch. This probably supported a wooden upper floor. Traces of galleries giving access to these upper floors survive within the thickness of the drystone wall. (42)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
RCAHMS. 1928. The Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles. Edinburgh: HMSO, 141, No. 478
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

(NG 3180 3333) Dun (NR)
OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1901)

On the southern shoulder of Ard an t-Sabhail, a rugged peak rising to some 600' above sea level and overlooking Loch Bracadale, is a ruined broch, the wall of which is mainly fallen but one short section on the NE still stands to a height of 6'. The inside face of the wall is traceable along the eastern arc, and on the SE there is scarcement 9" wide 2' above the tumbled stones with the wall showing 2' more above the scarcement. The broch is nearly circular, measuring from 34'7" to 36'6" in diameter internally. The wall is 9' to 12' thick, and at the entrance, which lies in the E, it is 10'7" thick. The entrance passage tapers from 4'7" in width to 3' on the inside with no trace of checks. A guard chamber about 7' in length and 5'2" wide, lies to the S. of the entrance passage, and probably a similar chamber existed on the N side. Traces of a narrow gallery on the S are evident, and on the NE the inner wall, 4' thick, of a gallery can be detected.
A gully on the NE side of the rock has been blocked up by a stone breastwork immediately under the wall of the broch. The foundations of a wall 6'-8' thick leave the broch wall on the SW and swing round the rocky south-western edge of the terrace of some 75', whence they return eastwards, with a break for an entrance, for about 35', then die out on the rocky face of the hillside. The roadway runs through this entrance, which lies for 52' to 64' from the broch, is 12' in length, and varies from 4'3" to 6'6" in width. From the middle of the south-western wall of this defence, another wall, 5' in thickness, has run easterly, then northerly, towards the broch, and forms an enclosure about 31' in length by about 24' in width.
RCAHMS 1928; A Graham 1949.

A broch, correctly described by RCAHMS; in poor condition.
Visited by OS (A S P) 1 June 1961.

NG33 1 ARD an t' SABHAIL
NG/3180 3333
This probable ground-galleried broch stands in a dominating position on a rocky summit of crags amid rugged moorland and about 180m (600 ft) above the sea and half a mile from it (visited 20/4/63). There is a fine view of Loch Bracadale to the north with the twin peaks of MacLeod's Tables beyond [4, pl. 1]. The site towers high above the adjacent valley in which are modern settlements and farmland. Swanson has a good plan of the broch [3, 896].
Few of the architectural features are now visible; like most Skye brochs this one is built of irregular blocks of igneous rock many of which have collapsed into featureless rubble. The main entrance is on the east side but no door-frame is visible; it is about 1.15m wide at the outer end and 0.9m at the inner [3]. A roofless oval guard cell, measuring about 7 ft (2.13m) long by 5 ft 2 in (1.57m) is on the left side of the passage; the door to this from the entrance is visible. There is another doorway in the right wall of the passage which leads to another guard cell or to the intra-mural gallery [3].
In 1921 there were clear traces of a narrow mural gallery on the wallhead to the left of (clockwise from) the entrance and a short length on the right side as well; the former has since disappeared but the latter is still visible [3]. On the south-east, at about 7 o'clock, was a scarcement of the ledge-type on the inner wallface and 9 in (25cm) wide, but this too has disappeared. The inner face then stood 2 ft (60cm) above the ledge [2]. The gallery on the wallhead behind may be at ground level since there was no sign of any covering lintels. There are traces of a doorway into the wall at about 10 o'clock which were not noted by the Commission; this could well be the stair door. A probably modern revetment can be seen from about 7-9 o'clock and presumably obscures the inner face here [3].
Fragments of an outer defensive wall can be seen on the south and south-east and a gully in the north-east side of the surrounding crags has been blocked by a stone breastwork immediately below the broch [3, plan]. The main outer wall abuts the broch at about 10 o'clock and runs south-east to the crag where it turns north-east along its edge for a short distance. There is an outer entrance here. Traces of enclosures of uncertain date are on the south-east [3, 896, plan].
Internal diameter 34.5-36.51 ft (10.5-11.1m): walls 9-12 ft (2.1-3.6m) thick. Wall proportion approx. 39%.
Sources: NMRS site no. NG 33 SW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1928. 141, no. 418 and fig. 200: 3. Swanson 1985, 893-94 and plan: 4. MacSween 1984-85, 41, no. 1, fig. 1 and pl. 1. <1>

Sources/Archives (9)



Grid reference Centred NG 3180 3332 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG33SW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish BRACADALE

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