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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016627

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


This dun is typical of the many hundreds of similar small iron-age defensive structures to be found along Scotland's western seaboard. Characteristically, it makes use of a small natural knoll to give added defence but, like so many others, it overlooks agricultural land which its occupants would have farnled. Whereas some duns take in the whole summit on which they are built, and are therefore of rather irregular plan, Torr a'Chaisteil was deliberately laid out to be a near true circle measuring 14m in diameter over a wall up to 3.7m thick. The wall is now much reduced in height (it may originally have been about 2m high), but considerable stretches of the outer face can still be seen standing up to two courses high. The entrance is on the east and was protected by an outer bank which crosses the knoll from north to south; such outworks are a common occurrence and give a degree of extra protection to the weakest part of the dun (although it is difficult to imagine that the dun-dwellers were able to withstand anything more than a rather desultmy attack). Ton- a'Chaisteil has been dug into on at least three occasions, but title additional structural information was recovered and the finds, as is normal on duns, were restricted to the top stone of a rotary quern and the bones of domesticated and wild animals.

Duns of this type were occupied by a single family, who held, and farmed, the surrounding land. The family was almost certainly of noble status and the dun, although it was a defensive structure, was probably built to impress and dominate as much as to function as a stronghold.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

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