MHG6072 - Dun Gearymore, Skye


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Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

NG26SW 1.11 2367 6490.

Dun Gearymore, NG26SW0001

It is difficult to get a sense of this broch as a monumental roundhouse, intended to display the wealth and status of the agricultural community who lived within it, from the low mound of stones which is all that is left. On close examination, however, traces of cells and intra-mural passages do survive within the thickness of the walls. (59)
The dilapidated state of the broch is the result of stone robbing in the eighteenth century to build nearby Unish House (now abandoned). At a slightly later date, rectangular buildings, representing the latest phase of occupation of the adjacent township, were also built out of stones from the broch, before this settlement was abandoned in its turn. (57)
In spite of this later use, the possibly contemporary landscape of Dun Gearymore is still recognisable. Just to the west is a group of roundhouses, less substantially built than the broch tower, and perhaps occupied by less important members of the group. Agricultural use is represented by the field walls and cultivation remains, which radiate out from the broch. (59)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
Ritchie, G., and Harman, M., 1996. Exploring Scotland’s Heritage. Argyll and the Western Isles. Edinburgh: HMSO, 29.
RCAHMS. 1928. The Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles. Edinburgh: HMSO, 159-60, No. 511.
RCAHMS, 1993. Waternish. An Archaeological Landscape. Edinburgh: HMSO, 6, 15.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

Situated on the S end of the summit of hill; the broch has been severely robbed, presumably in order to provide stone for the many later buildings from several periods nearby. The rocky knoll on which the broch sits has been additionally protected by a wall, intermittent traces of which are still visible, and also by the deepening of the natural gully on the SE side of the broch, which presumably also provided a convenient quarry for building stone. The outer wall runs along the top of the cliff edge on the S side and is clearly visible, where it fills in a crack in the rock. On the W and N, it appears to be some 2.3m thick and on the SE it is visible along the side of the gully. The course of this outer work is, however, not clear on the NE side.
The broch measures some 10.2m in diameter within a wall about 3.4m in thickness; the line of the outer face may be traced throughout its circuit. On the S only the lowest course of the outer face survives, but the rubble core still stands to a height of 2.5m. The outer band of walling has been heavily robbed, but the inner portion stands to a height of at least 2.5m. The inner face is visible intermittently above the rubble that chokes the interior. A distinct scarcement ledge some 0.4m broad can be seen at one point on the E. The entrance is in the SW quadrant and has been cleared out since the Commission's visit in 1915; it is now too choked with debris for further description. Set within the thickness of the wall on the NNE there is a pair of conjoined cells with a single entrance-passage from the interior of the broch; the W cell measures 2.2m by 1.2m with the walling rising to a height of 0.9m. The E cell is less well preserved and measures 1.5m by 1m internally with the corbelled walling standing to a height of 0.3m above the rubble that fills the interior. On the W side, robbing has revealed the end of a passage in the thickness of the wall that leads to a blocked creep, opening into the interior of the broch at its far end.
(WAT90 302)
Visited by RCAHMS (JNGR) 28 September 1990.

NG/2368 6490
This probable ground-galleried broch in Duirinish, Skye, is the most northerly of the three brochs on the Vaternish peninsula and stands on a rocky knoll in an uninhabited tract of country; nevertheless there are many signs of former cultivation, including several small structures, and 'lazy beds', close to the broch [3, plan] (visited 24/4/63 and 15/8/85). There are traces of a defensive ditch to the east of the broch.
As is often the case with dilapidated brochs the outer wallface is now quite low – being reduced to one course of masonry above the rubble in places – whereas the inner face is higher, though mostly hidden under rubble. Both faces are built neatly of squarish blocks of metamorphic rock. A long stretch of ground-level intra-mural gallery, completely lintelled over and intact, is accessible on the north-west arc [3, plan]; it runs for 8.1m (29 ft) – from about 7-10.30 o'clock if the entrance is just south of west – and is rarely more than 45cm (18in) wide and 1.5m (5 ft) in height now. A possible doorway to this mural gallery is visible, 45cm (18in) square.
At the east end of the roofed section, at about 10.30 o'clock, there is the curved end of an apparently elongated mural cell which was described as two adjacent cells which might be opposed guard cells on either side of an invisible entrance [2]. The position of the entrance seems to the author more likely to be on the opposite side of the broch, just south of west, and the cell mentioned perhaps to be the stair-foot guard cell. There are traces of the sides of the gallery throughout other parts of the wall, particularly from about 12-2.30 o'clock.
The dilapidated state of much of the outer half of the broch wall is probably to be explained by the ruins of recent buildings and stone dykes a few yards away on the north-east side [3, plan].
The internal diameter is about 35 ft 3 in (10.75m) and the wall is about 11 ft thick (3.36m). The external diameter would thus be about 57 ft (17.4m) and the wall proportion about 38%.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NG 26 SW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 159-60, no. 511: 3. Swanson (ms) 1985, 845-46 and plan: 4. MacSween 1984-85, 43, no. 13 and fig. 13: 5. Ritchie and Harman 1996, 29. <1>

This site was included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <2>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NG 2366 6490 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG26SW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish DUIRINISH

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