MHG5068 - Broch - Dun Arkaig, Skye


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Type and Period (2)

  • BROCH (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • OUTWORKS (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

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Full Description

(NG 3499 4261) Dun Arkaig (NR) <1>

Dun Arkaig, a ruined broch in a dilapidated condition, the outer wall being reduced to a height ranging from 3' - 5' on the E, S, and W, and to the foundation on the N The inner wall apparently stands from 3' - 7' in height, but it is entirely hidden by the stones which encumber the interior. The wall seems to be about 13' thick at the foundation, and as the external diameter is about 54' the internal diameter would be about 28', rather less than usual, with the wall thicker than in the usual Skye broch. The entrance is in the NE but it is blocked by stones. It measures 3' in width at the outside. In the wall on the E is a ruined gallery; it is clearly defined at its rounded southern end. On the W side is seen a section of an outer casing wall, 5'6" thick at the base, rising about 3' in height with a rapid batter, built against the main wall of the broch. The building in this piece of structure does not equal that of the main building. <2>

Listed by A Graham 1949. <3>

Dun Arkaig, a broch, as described above, occupies a commanding position halfway up the slopes on the SE side of the Ose valley. It is situated midway along an oval-shaped basalt outcrop bounded by steep rock faces. Across the outcrop, some 10.0m NE of the broch is a stone wall, now completely collapsed, which at the east end, turned southwards and appears to have joined the broch midway along its SE side. There are traces of a wall from the broch entrance to the outwork.

The broch has been much robbed, doubtless for the large sheep pens immediately to the north.
There are several ruined houses, each with outbuildings and traces of others close by, together with yards and enclosures.
Visited by OS (A S P) 17 May 1961. <4>

This broch, probably ground-galleried, in Bracadale, Skye, stands about 30.5m (100 ft) above sea level on a rocky crag half way up the side of Glen Ose, a shallow valley in the middle of the west coast of the island (visited 21/4/63 and 17/8/85). This valley contains abundant traces of former cultivation in the form of ruined crofts, rig-and-furrow marks, old field dykes and so on. It is in fact the second largest ‘green glen’ in Skye. The valley floor is now very wet, presumably because it is no longer drained and cultivated.
Description: The structure is dilapidated, a condition explained by the many recent walls nearby [4, plan]. The outer wallface stands 0.9 - 1.5m (3 - 5 ft) high in places but is reduced to the foundation course on the north. The ruined and blocked entrance passage is on the north-east and is 0.9m (3 ft) wide at the outer end; a large slab is set into its right or north wall at 1.2m (4 ft) from the exterior and appears to be a door-check. There are no signs of a check on the left but what appears to be the side of a doorway to a left guard cell is visible [4].
The inner wallface may be 2.1m (7 ft) high but it is largely hidden by debris except on the south [4]. There are traces of a mural gallery visible from about 6.30-10 o'clock, and at one point near the entrance two lintels can be seen with one or two courses of the inner face of what should be an upper gallery above them. Clearly there is a gallery at ground level here. However it may not be a continuous one as this stretch, to the left of the main entrance, ends in a curved wall; by this point it has gradually widened to about 1.53m (5 ft) [2]. Swanson shows the inner face of a gallery continuing clockwise from this point, from about 9.30-12 o'clock [4, plan]. She also shows a blocked-up door to this gallery at 12 o'clock which is not mentioned in her text.
There is an outer casing wall, strongly battered, resting against the outer face of the broch on the west, from about 11.30 to 2 o'clock; this feature seems likely to be a mass of stones, faced with squarish blocks, which has been stacked against the foot of the broch here in early times. Its appearance recalls the 'casing walls' found against some brochs in Caithness and Orkney, and it is possible that the feature is evidence of the deliberate demolition of the broch in Iron Age times. It is of particular interest in that it is, so far, unique in the west. There may be a later structure buried in the rubble of the interior [4].
There are traces of an outer wall crossing the ridge about 11m from the broch entrance; in line with this entrance there seems to be a break which could be an outer gate [4]. On both sides of the ridge this wall turns west as if to pass close by the broch but there is little to be seen here because of the steepness of the slopes, and because of the presence of sheer crags on the north.
Dimensions: External diameter c. 16.5m (54 ft): the wall is about 3.97m (13 ft) thick at the foundations so the internal diameter is about 8.54m (28 ft) and the wall pro-portion about 48%. Swanson gives the internal diameter as about 9m [4].
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NG 34 SW 1.00: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 143, no. 480: 3. MacSween 1984-85, 41-2, no. 5 and fig. 5 <5> : 4. Swanson (ms) 1985, 877-79 and plan. <6> <7>

The Site was Scheduled by Historic Environment Scotland in 2017. <8>

1.01 3500 4273 Township (Possible); Sheep Pens

Sources/Archives (8)



Grid reference Centred NG 3500 4264 (88m by 50m)
Map sheet NG34SE
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish BRACADALE

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