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Publication Account

Date 2007

Event ID 587238

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


NR46 1 DUN BHORARAIG (‘Dun Bhoraraic’)

NR/4164 6578

This broch stands on a summit 168m (550 ft) above the sea and three-quarters of a mile from the shore of the east coast of the island (visited August 1969). It commands a fine view across the water to Mull and Colonsay, southwards to Kintyre and back across the island to Ireland. That this broch is another example of those which were much better preserved a century and a half ago is shown by Thomas Pennant’s description of about 1770 (Appendix 2).


Level 1. The building is circular, the central court – though full of rubble – appears to have a diameter of 13.7m (44.9 ft) and the surrounding wall is about 4.8m (15.7 ft) thick on average. This is a large structure for a broch. The entrance is on the east-south-east and 4.42m (14 ft 6 in) in length, the width being 71cm (2 ft 4 in) at each end but wider in the middle. One door-check is visible on the left 1.2m (4 ft) in from the outside; it is faced with an upright stone slab. Although both faces are exposed there is no trace of a check on the right side, and neither can the bar-hole and -socket be seen.

A guard chamber is on the left of the passage with the low doorway leading to it just visible; in 1979 the lintels of its roof were only 0.7m above the rubble on its floor. This doorway gradually expands into the egg-shaped cell. Ten years earlier the author noted that its corbelled roof (presumably the overlapping lintels mentioned below) still rose to 2.4m (8 ft) above that rubble. The Commission’s investigator noted that, at the inner end of the chamber, a little of its wallface had fallen away, exposing “an ascending series of lintels or treads above a void within the thickness of the wall; this structure may have carried a gallery over the guard-chamber and across the entrance passage.” [4].

Part of another mural chamber can be seen at 11 o’clock and in 1969 the corbelled inner wall of this was visible; the right side of a doorway into the wall is at 12 o’clock. The author noted traces of a stair in 1969 but this is not mentioned in the latest account [4]. A fragment of intramural gallery, or a cell, with a squared end can be seen between 12 and 12.30 o’clock and the inner wall of another short length of gallery at 9.30.

Level 2. A scarcement about 60cm wide is just visible above the rubble, indicating that this must be about 1.8m deep. When Pennant saw the site in about 1770 the ledge was about 60cm above the rubble so much must have fallen in since his day (see Appendix 2). At present the inner face nowhere stands more than one course above the scarcement [4]. The main wall was then described as standing 14 ft (4.27m) high and the entrance passage was still roofed with lintels. Pennant also describes a gallery running all the way round the wallhead.

There is a wide quarry ditch on the north-west and north-east of the broch.


If Pennant’s height of 14 ft for the broch wall in 1770 is correct – and even if he exaggerated a little and it was only 10 ft – the gallery he saw running round the wallhead must have been an upper one. Dun Bhoraraig must then have been the much better preserved stump of a broch tower.

Dimensions. The overall diameter was given as 21.4m (70 ft) in about 1770 by Pennant. The author found it to be 22.0m (72 ft) in 1969 and the Commission – after surveying the site a few years later – gives the figure as 20.0m (65.7 ft).

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NR 46 NW 10: 2. Childe 1935b, 81: 3. MacKie 1975, 142: 4. RCAHMS 1984, 101-2, no. 169 and fig.

E W MacKie 2007

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