MHG5171 - Dun Scaich


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Type and Period (1)

  • CASTLE (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

NG51SE 1 5952 1207.

NG 5952 1207. Dun Scaich (NR) (Ruins of)
OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1903)

Dun Scaich occupies the whole summit of an isolated rock at N Corner of Ob Garscavaig on the S shore of Loch Eishart. The rock is wholly precipitous and rises some 30-40ft above the sea and is cut off from the mainland by a steep gully or trench about 20ft wide and 15 - 16ft deep hewn out of the natural rock and strewn with angular pieces of stone debris. This gully is crossed by two arched walls, 6ft apart enclosing a space for a wooden drawbridge. At the inner extremity of the gap are the holes for the pivot upon which the drawbridge worked. Immediately beyond are the projecting checks for a door which opened to a flight of steps, the higher part of which has disappeared. It is clear that the whole summit of the rock measuring about 30 x 22 yards was originally enclosed by walling, of which portions varying in height still cling to the cliff edge. About a third is completely gone or is buried under grassy mounds. The highest part remaining is in the SE corner, where it rises at most to 16 - 17ft. Where complete the surrounding wall averages 5ft thick. There are only fragments of interior walling and no features worth noticing. An oblong building, 38 x 16ft with 4 1/2ft walls, occupied the extreme W of the enclosed area, but its foundations are now defined only by grass-grown mounds. There is another but much more indefinite area on the N side. A built well is now filled with debris. There seems to have been a garderobe in the NE corner and in the S face a sea-gate.
The building is of unusual character in the Western Isles, random rubble roughly coursed in large irregular stones with much infilling of small material and plenty of lime. The work on the bridge and stair looks later than that of the main structure and is not bonded in. The building is in bad condition.
Properly Dun Scaich is Dun Sgathaich, which explains the form in a charter of 1505, "terrarum de Sleit una cum castro et fortalicio de Dunskayay (Reg Magni Sig Reg Scot 1984, Vol. 2)." In highland tradition it was the Dun of Scathach the martial instructress of the epic hero Cuchullin. There was probably a more ancient structure of the dun class. It was the principal seat of the Clan Huisdean of Macdonalds of Sleat. In 1515 there was a remission to Lauchlan MacLean of Dowart and Alistair Macleod of Dunvegan for assisting "in the treasonable segeing and taking of the Kingis castillis and hous of Carnebog and Dunskaith" (Reg Magni Sig Reg Scot 1984, Vol. 1). The place was then in the King's hands by forfeiture. Monro refers to it in 1549 as "the castill of Dunskay, perteining to the said Donald Gromsone" that is Donald Macdonald Gormson of Sleat. An obligation by "Donald McDouill gorme" (really the same Gormson, who died in 1573) of January 1572-3 is dated at "Dounescheiche" (Iona Club 1847). Later on the Macdonalds of Sleat made Duntulm their chief residence (q.v. NG47SW 1).
Iona Club 1847; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; RCAHMS 1928; Reg Magni Sig Reg Scot 1984.

Dun Scaich, remains of a castle. Correctly described by RCAHMS. In poor condition.
Visited by OS (A S P) 15 June 1961.

Alternative names are Dun Sgathaich, Dunscaith, Dun Skaich <1>

Sources/Archives (10)



Grid reference Centred NG 5952 1206 (300m by 300m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NG51SE
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish SLEAT

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