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Grimsay, Loch Hornary, Dun Ban

Dun (Prehistoric)

Site Name Grimsay, Loch Hornary, Dun Ban

Classification Dun (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Nf85ne 6

Canmore ID 10182

Site Number NF85NE 7

NGR NF 8698 5693

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish North Uist
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NF85NE 7 8698 5693.

(NF 8697 5693) Dun Ban (NR)

OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904)

Dun Ban stands on a rocky islet at the east end of Loch Horneray, Grimsay, and was excavated by Thomas (F W L Thomas 1890), who found that it consisted of four beehive cells within the wall of a circular tower. The wall is 10 to 14ft thick except for about 9ft which is only about 2ft thick. The entrance, opposite the curved causeway, led to a curved recess, apparently a guard cell. Thomas estimated that the wall was originally 15ft high, with a parapet above. Signs of fire were noted in two places and broken craggans were recovered, but no datable relics were found.

The dun was overlooked by a little eminence, 50 or 60ft high, on the lake shore 35 yards away.

F W L Thomas 1890.

Dun Ban is generally as described and planned above, but it is now obscured by dense undergrowth. The walls survive to a maximum height of 2.0m internally. The submerged causeway is still visible.

Surveyed at 1:10,560.

Visited by OS (N K B) 30 May 1965.


Publication Account (2007)

NF85 1 DUN BAN 1


This probable broch or galleried dún on the island of Grimsay, North Uist, stands on a small rocky islet in Loch Hornary, about 30m from the southern shore (viewed from there in June 1988). A submerged causeway leads from that shore and takes a sharp turn to the west as it approaches the islet; the stones can be seen under the water with polarised glass. (the author had no wellingtons with him on that occasion so did not venture across).

The dun was explored and partly cleared by Captain Thomas from whom most of the available information comes [2]; the Royal Commission’s investigators had no boat and could not visit it [3]. From the plan – in which primary and secondary features are not distinguished – it would seem that the site is a broch inside which secondary structures have been built. The entrance is 91cm (3 ft) wide and no lintels remain in situ; the primary passage seems to be 3.36m (11 ft) in length and has been extended inwards by a secondary passage 2.44m (8 ft) long and leading towards the left. At 11 o'clock there is what seems to be a mural stair leading upwards to the right and with a guard cell at its foot. A few feet anti-clockwise from this feature is another intra-mural chamber or gallery of which only the squarish end is visible.

Dimensions (taken from the plan): external diameter c. 14.3m (47 ft), internal about 7.6m (25 ft); the wall proportion is therefore about 49%.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NF 85 NE 7: 2. Thomas 1890, 399 and pl. LII: 3. RCAHMS 1928, 94, no. 299: 4. Beveridge 1911, 172-4.

E W MacKie 2007

Diver Inspection (2010)

NF 8698 5693

This work forms part of the project described under Dun an-t Siamain. An underwater investigation at Dun Ban, Loch Hornary (NF87NE 7) found that the site rests on an entirely natural islet, which forms part of a large outcrop rising from the loch bed. In contrast to many island dwellings the NE side of this loch is relatively deep, reaching in excess of 10m. A moderately intact vessel (50–60%) was recovered from a small shelf (at a depth of 8m) above a considerable

drop-off. The vessel is c230mm in diameter, has grassmarking over its entire exterior and does not contain any decoration. It is globular in shape with an incurving rim and dates to the later prehistoric period.

Report: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: The 2010 GAMA Award courtesy of the Gatliff Trust

R Lenfert 2010


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