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Date 11 July 2014 - 23 May 2016

Event ID 1044728

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Note


The fort at Dunagoil occupies a craggy ridge on the coast S of Dunagoil Bay. The ridge is aligned ESE and WNW, dropping precipitously on the NNE and WNW, so much so that, the only defensive work along the cliff-edge is a short section of masonry with its outer face still 0.7m high blocking a gully leading up to the crest. Elsewhere the defences comprise a substantial wall some 3.6m thick which displays massive vitrifaction of its core the length of the SSW side. A run of the outer face is visible at the northern end of this side, but nothing can be seen of the inner face. There is also an entrance midway along this side, and another in the ESE end, where the wall measures 3.3m in thickness and cuts sharply back over the crest of the ridge to return a short distance along the cliff-edge on the NNE. The interior, which measures about 85m in length from ESE to WNW by up to 20m transversely (0.15ha), is featureless, and nothing can now be seen of the cross-wall noted on an estate plan of 1780 (Bute Archive). Excavations were carried out in 1914 and 1915, and again in 1919, though the results have been reported in only the most sketchy outline (Mann 1915; 1925; Marshall 1915). Nevertheless, several details indicate that the history of occupation on the hilltop included more than the construction and destruction of the fort. John Marshall, digging a trench into the masonry at the top of the gully on the NNE found chunks of vitrified stone reused in its fabric, from which he concluded that it was constructed after the main wall was destroyed (Marshall 1915, 45-6). This may have influenced Ludovic Mann's assertion that the fort had been extended eastwards at some point in its history, claiming that the new wall overlay midden from an earlier occupation, though whether this is an allusion to Marshall's trench on the E or an observation of his own of the main wall, as he implies, towards the ESE end of the fort is unclear (Mann 1925, 60). Nevertheless, the various trenches provided one of the richest assemblages of artefacts found in any fort in western Scotland, with a wide range of materials and evidence of metalworking (Mann 1915; 1925).

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 23 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC1201

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