Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

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 AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

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.


Field Visit (10 June 1921)

Dun Osdale.

On the south-west side of the road from Dunvegan to Glendale, some 100 yards south-east from the junction of the road to Uiginish Lodge, at an elevation of about 130 feet above sea-level, is Dun Osdale, a ruined broch, which occupies the north-western extremity of a short ridge with a rocky escarpment some 40 feet in height along its north-eastern flank and some 20 feet in height at its north-western extremity; to the south-west a slight hollow intervenes between it and the hill Dun Chlach, and to the south-east the ground is almost level.

The outer face of the wall of the broch for a great part is reduced to the lower courses, but on the west-south-west a section still maintains a height of about 7 feet; on the south, although hidden by fallen stones, it is about 4 to 5 feet high, and on the north-east there is a very short section 3 feet in height. The stones are of considerable size and laid in regular courses. In the interior a mass of tumbled stone obscures the most of the inner face of the wall, but on the south and north-west it stands about 8 feet above the debris. The broch is circular with an internal diameter of 35 feet to 36 feet 6 inches, and the wall thickens from 10 feet on the north to 13 feet 7 inches on the south. The entrance, which is on the east, is badly broken down, but near the inside has a width of 3 feet z inches, and appears to have been 2 feet 10 inches on the outside. It has run straight through the wall without checks. In the thickness of the wall to the south of the entrance is an oval chamber measuring 10 feet long by 4 feet 9 inches broad above the debris with which it is half filled. The roof has fallen in, but the internal corbelling of the walls is well displayed. The fallen stones no doubt still cover the entrance, which has probably been from the interior. Within the western arc of the wall, nearly opposite the main doorway, is another oval cell 12 feet in length and 4 feet 6 inches in breadth over debris, with a doorway 2 feet 9 inches wide; its outer and inner walls are 5 feet 9 inches and 2 feet 6 inches respectively. The roof of this chamber has also collapsed, but from the masonry which remains in position it must have been over 6 feet in height. Immediately to the west of the cell near the entrance are exposed the left jamb of a door and a short length of a gallery 3 feet 6 inches wide in the thickness of the southern wall, which probably contained the stair, as traces of a gallery at a higher level than the oval chambers are seen here, the inner wall being about 3 feet and the outer 8 feet thick. Parts of a scarcement 9 inches wide can be detected on the north-western and south-eastern arcs.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 10 June 1921.

OS map: Skye xxi.

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


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions