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Skye, Dun Osdale

Broch (Iron Age)

Site Name Skye, Dun Osdale

Classification Broch (Iron Age)

Canmore ID 10832

Site Number NG24NW 4

NGR NG 2412 4641

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Duirinish
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Skye And Lochalsh
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NG24NW 4 2412 4641.

(NG 2412 4641) Dun Osdale (NR)

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

Dun Osdale, a broch, measuring from 35 - 36' 6" in internal diameter, with walling varying in width from 10' on the N to 13'7" on the S. Chambers and galleries are visible; the entrance is not checked.

RCAHMS 1928; A Graham 1949; A Ross 1961.

Dun Osdale, a broch, as described by RCAHMS; poor condition.

Visited by OS (C F W) 11 April 1961.


Publication Account (2007)


NG/2412 4641

Broch, probably ground-galleried, in Duirinish, Skye, situated about 130 ft (39.7m) above the sea (Loch Dunvegan) on a steep rocky knoll which forms the end of a ridge (visited 22/4/63, 1971 and 15/8/85). It overlooks farmland and also a village less than a mile away.


The outer face is mostly reduced to a few courses but on the west-south-west a section still rises to about 2.14m (7 ft). The stones are large and laid in regular courses. The entrance is on the east side, facing the easiest approach along the ridge, and is badly dilapidated. It measures 0.86m (2 ft 10in) in width at the outer end and about 0.96m (3 ft 2in) near the inner; no door-frame can be seen and in 1921 the left wall apparently lacked a door-check [2].

The Commission described an oval mural cell a short distance clockwise from the entrance, at about 7.30 o'clock: it measures about 3.05m (10 ft) long by nearly 1.52m (5 ft) wide above the debris filling it. The lintel of its doorway is buried. This cell seems rather far from the entrance passage to be a guard cell and was probably reached from the central court. The beginning of its corbelled dome is clear. Swanson by contrast believes this feature to be part of the gallery described below [6].

There are three other doorways leading from the central court to various intra-mural features. The sides of one, with lintels in situ, are visible at about 8.30 o'clock (close to the end of the cell just described) and they probably lead to the mural stair; the sides of the passage which could contain it are visible for a short distance but no steps can be seen. In 1921 the sides of another, higher stretch of mural gallery were visible nearby and were probably those of an upper level [2]; this feature was not seen by the author but Swanson mentions it [6]. As noted it can be argued that the ground level mural gallery extends to the left of this door as well as to the right [6].

At about 12 o'clock is another clear, oval mural ceIl 3.66m (12 ft) long and 1.37m (4.5 ft) wide with a massively lintelled doorway to the central court. The remains of the corbelled roof of this chamber are still visible. The door lintel has cracked and dropped and evidently once formed part of the adjacent scarcement, of the ledge-type. This feature is 9in (23cm) wide (or 25-45cm [6]) and is visible in two lengths, from about 12 o'clock (starting just anti-clockwise of the door to the cell) to 2.30 and from 6 o'clock to about 8.30. More traces of an upper gallery are visible clockwise from this cell [6].


The site is unexcavated and full of rubble but in 1971 two joining fragments of the upper stone of a rotary quern (making up about half of the stone) were discovered on top of the rubble in the interior [5]. For various reasons the broken hand-mill could be confidently deduced to have been dropped into the rubble core of the wall when the broch was built; it was therefore in use some years before the broch [5].


According to the Commission [2] the internal diameter is 35-36.5 ft (10.68-11.131m), the wall thickness 13.5 ft (4.12m) on the south side and 10.0 ft (3.05m) on the north. The external diameter may therefore be about 59 ft (18.0m) and the wall proportion approximately 40%.

In 1971 and 1986 the shape of the central court was accurately planned and it proved to be close to a true circle with a radius of 5.16 +/- 0.06 m; this equals a diameter of 10.32m (33.84 ft). So at this site too the internal diameter measured by the Commission [2] was evidently of the wall above the scarcement; the wall proportion should in fact be about 42.5%.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NG 24 NW 4: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 156-7, no. 507, and fig. 224: 3. Graham 1949: 4. Ross 1961, 206-9: 5. MacKie 1972, 137-38 and fig. 1b: 6. Swanson (ms) 1985, 867-68 and plan: 7. MacSween 1984-85, 42, no. 9, fig. 9 and pl. 5.

E W MacKie 2007


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