MHG7371 - Fort & Dun, Langwell


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • FORT (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • DUN (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

NC40SW 3 4104 0084.

NC 4104 0084. On Torr a Chorcain, a prominent knoll rising some 100' above floodplain of River Oykell, are remains of a vitrified fort, and small circular vitrified dun.
The dun occupies highest part of knoll, SW end, the measures 11m in internal diameter. The walling, now turf-covered and spread to a width of 9m, is heavily vitrified on N and S, and on both sides of entrance, which is in E. The original width of walling was prob about 4m.
The dun is enclosed within, and clearly overlies, part of ruins of a vitrified fort which occupies whole of knoll and measures 120m NE-SW by 80m transversely. The fort defences consist of a scarping of lower slopes of knoll on N and S, and much-robbed stone wall around top of knoll in which traces of vitrified material can be seen. There are no defences around the W side which falls away steeply to the river. The entrance is in the NE side. The site is of some interest because (i) the only other known, small, timber-laced dun, is the example at Rahoy, Argyllshire, excavated by Childe (V G Childe and W Thorneycroft 1938), and (ii) the relationship of the dun and fort may provide a link in the problem of the evolution of the broch.
Surveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (N K B) 23 November 1966; V G Childe and W Thorneycroft 1938.

Partial excavation by Miss Nisbet in 1973 and 1974 was concentrated mainly on the dun but a section across the inner rampart of the fort showed that the existing feature consisted largely of upcast from stone-robbing overlying at least two occupation levels. Neither vitrification in situ nor evidence of timberlacing was found. Both beneath and outside the dun there were traces of occupation including ironworking. The dun was confirmed as being a timberlaced construction. It has a diameter of 15.5m within a wall 5.0m thick, standing to a height of over 2m internally, faced with well-coursed slabs and infilled with waterworn stones which show a core of vitrification. The entrance, 2m wide, flanked by post holes and floored with logs has a guard chamber on its left. Internally a ring of about fourteen stout posts set at a distance of 4.5m from the wall had supported a roof of timber, turf and twigs probably open in the centre. A wooden ramp or gangway had run up the hillside to the entrance, to be continued in the interior as a turf ramp. Two phases of occupation before the fire which caused the vitrification, and one after it could be determined. The last involved internal levelling of the debris from wall and re-roofing using new posts. Radio carbon dates for the dun give a range from 10 BC to 440 BC, but two samples taken from one roof timber give over-lapping dates of 210 to 290 BC. The only finds from the excavation, besides whetstones and other simple stone tools, were an iron knife blade and two stone beads. There was no pottery. A midden lies outside the dun entrance on the right.
H C Nisbet 1973 and 1974.

The vitrified dun, and the fort, probably not vitrified are as described by Nisbet.
Revised at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (J B) 1 October 1976.

This site was included in Mackie's 2007 'The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC - AD 500: Architecture and material culture'. See link below to HES Canmore record which includes the chapter on this site. <1>

The site is included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <3>

Sources/Archives (12)



Grid reference Centred NC 4103 0088 (213m by 137m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC40SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND

Finds (6)

  • WHETSTONE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • POUNDER (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • BEAD (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • RING (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • BLADE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SLAG (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (3)

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