MHG58201 - Enclosure, dun, midden? Arnisdale


Enclosure, dun, midden? Arnisdale

Type and Period (3)

  • ENCLOSURE? (Unknown date)
  • DUN? (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • MIDDEN (Unknown date)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

These sites were recorded by NOSAS in 2008/9 as part of an archaeological survey of outer Loch Hourn.

Roy’s Military Survey shows 5 buildings at Arnisdale, as well as an enclosed garden which suggests a gentleman’s residence. He also depicts large areas of rig and furrow running down to the shore and even more in Glen Arnisdale. The 1808 map shows 9 buildings, spread out between the two burns, in the area of the present day salmon farm. Though the present settlement was not explored in detail, the one
remaining building of the old township of Arnisdale, which survives in the grounds of the present Arnisdale House, was photographed (plate 14). The glen was surveyed by a number of teams on several occasions in 2008 and 2009.

Arnisdale cannot be discussed without mention of the ‘N’ word - Norse (see Rixson 1999, 25-42 for the background). We found nothing which offered any clues as to whether there was a Norse settlement here - particularly since it is likely that the later settlement will sit on top of it. However, we did find suggestions of even earlier sites in Glen Arnisdale. Of most interest are two possible duns on knolls just behind the present lodge. The more prominent knoll, closer to the sea, is covered in whin and it would need clearing before a definitive identification can be made (Site 1215). The second dun lies behind this and, though in not so obviously impressive a location, is the more convincing of the two (Site 1216; fig. 6; plate 15). These sites suggest that there was an Iron Age presence at Arnisdale, though there is no broch to match those in Glenelg. The more prominent knoll is called Knocore on Cowie’s plan, dated 1853 (NAS RHP 44813); does the name suggest that it was a place of the dead? There is a possible recessed platform, which could have supported a timber roundhouse (Site 1221), on the slope above Site 1216.

Site 1216. A possible dun, occupying the top of a knoll, measuring c.24m x 11m E-W in area, but - unlike Site 1215 - overlooked by surrounding higher ground. The lower part of the knoll at its W end has no lip, but there is a large area of stone on the NE side, the N side of which has a distinct edge. Although also clearly delimited on the S side, there is no definite edge here. There are 2 slight gullies at the W end of the knoll and at the NW corner. The lower W end of the knoll is covered in tussocky grass, though some stone protrudes through this. The rest of the site is bracken covered, with a patch of nettles at the W end, close to a small burn that flows around the E end of the site. There are spreads of possible dark midden material below the structure on the S side. The site is relatively wet today, because of the blocking of the small burn on its E side, which has caused it to shift direction. <1>

NGR adjusted based on 1999-2001 AP’s <2>

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NG 8505 1013 (26m by 26m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG81SE
Civil Parish GLENELG
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (0)

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