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Skye, Dun Sleadale

Broch (Iron Age), Shieling Hut(S) (Post Medieval)

Site Name Skye, Dun Sleadale

Classification Broch (Iron Age), Shieling Hut(S) (Post Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Talisker

Canmore ID 11037

Site Number NG32NW 1

NGR NG 3238 2920

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/11037

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

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

Archaeology Notes

NG32NW 1 3238 2920.

(NG 3238 2920) Dun (NR).

OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1903)

Dun Sleadale, Talisker, is a broch which though in ruinous condition, is rather better preserved in parts than the great majority of Skye examples. The outer face of the wall stands 8ft high on the SE and 5ft on the E and NW, on the SW only the foundation course remains. In the interior there is a great mass of fallen stones hiding much of the structure. The internal diameter varies from 39ft NW-SE to 37ft 6ins from NE-SW. The wall at its present summit generally is about 9ft thick, but at the entrance, which is placed towards the ENE, it is 10ft 3ins thick, this measurement being nearer the foundation. At the outside the entrance passage is 2ft 10ins wide, and about 3ft in there are checks on either side. In the wall, some 3ft 6ins to the right of the entrance the end of a narrow gallery is seen, while on the opposite side, at a distance of 5ft is part of another gallery half full of stones. Nearly opposite the entrance is the doorway, leading into a gallery extending to the right and on the NW about 5ft of the lintels of the lower gallery maintain their position. Above them one course of the outer wall of an upper gallery is seen. The wall here is slightly displaced, but the upper gallery seems to be about 2ft wide.

The outer face of the wall of the broch shows a distinct inward batter. Included in list of Brochs (A Graham 1949).

RCAHMS 1928; A Graham 1949.

Dun Sleadale, as described by RCAHMS. Within the interior are two single-cell shieling huts and around the base of the rock outcrop are the ruins of others, mainly double-cell examples.

Visited by OS (C F W) 7 June 1961.

Activities

Publication Account (2007)

NG32 1 DUN SLEADALE

NG/3238 2920

Broch, probably ground-galleried, in Bracadale, Skye. It stands in a particularly interesting situation, on a rocky knoll about 160m (550 ft) above sea level and up on a steep hillside about half a mile from cultivated land; the knoll itself rises from a level terrace. Swanson has a good plan of this broch [3, 899] (visited 23/4/63 and 18/8/85).

Situation

This farmland is on the flat seaward end of Glen Oraid, a fine, isolated, V-shaped glaciated valley running down from high moorland to a curved sandy beach in a bay bounded at both ends by high cliffs. Thus the valley bottom, limited in area to about 0.25 square miles and containing the village of Talisker, is completely isolated by mountain and moor. The farmland is green and fertile, in striking contrast to the surrounding moor, and is formed of a thick deposit of alluvial soil which has presumably washed down from the surrounding land over many millennia. Marks of old rig-and-furrow cultivation are very clear near the sea when viewed from the moors above, and this suggests that the low ground was cultivated in Iron Age times also.

The broch overlooks this small stretch of cultivable land, and it is difficult to resist the conclusion that it was intimately connected with the Iron Age farmers who presumably used it. Moreover there are steep slopes and a difficult burn gully between the farmland and the broch which would have meant a journey of at least twenty minutes up from the fields below. This situation might suggest that – at this site at least – any danger was expected from the sea; as with many another Hebridean broch a land attack sweeping down on to the farmland from the mountains would cut the villagers off from their refuge, assuming that they lived beside the fields. The broch itself is out of sight of the sea but a short extra climb of about 60m (200 ft) gives an extensive view of the western sea approaches; a lookout there could give ample warning of a raid.

Description

The broch itself stands on the higher end of a short rocky ridge and few structuraI features are now visible [3, plan]. The outer wallface stands from 8 ft (2.44m) high down to nothing in the south-west arc, and large quantities of fallen stones obscure the interior; there is a distinct batter to the outer face on the north-west. The entrance is on the east-north-east and is 2 ft 10 in (86cm) wide at the exterior, which is unlintelled. Several lintels are still in position further in and the door-frame is apparent 3 ft (91cm) from the exterior. The checks are of built masonry and the passage then widens to 4 ft 2 in (1.27m), narrowing again to 3 ft 1 in (94cm) at the inner end.

There is another lintelled door opening from the interior into the wall on the north, at about 12 o'clock, with a lintelled stretch of gallery running to the right (clockwise) from it . In 1915 there was one course of the outer wall of an upper gallery on top of this [2]. This is almost certainly the stair door, and the steps of the flight are probably a short distance below the rubble under the lintels (though there would have to be a substantial gap in these to allow the flight to reach Level 2). Another inner doorway has been seen at about 4.30 o'clock [3].

A fine scarcement of the ledge-type is preserved in the 2-4 o'clock arc (not noted by the Commission) and the inner wallface stands up to six courses above it. The rocky ground outside is only about 6 ft (1.8m) below the gallery lintels here so the scarcement may only be 60-90cm (2-3 ft) above the interior floor at this point. However this does not leave much room for the rise of the supposed stairway so the rock may slope down under the wall towards the interior.

There is another stretch of gallery, or a cell with a few lintels in position, just clockwise of the main entrance at 7 o'clock; there are several courses of stonework exposed under the roof and in 1915 the outer face stood 8 ft (2.4m) high above the ground outside [2]. These lintels are much higher than those roofing the entrance and the gallery must technically be an upper one. There is therefore little doubt that the structure is a hollow-walled broch.

Dimensions [2]

The internal diameter in line with the entrance is 31.5 ft (11.25m) and at right angles to this (north-west to south-east) 39 ft (12.0m): the wall thickness at the entrance is 10 ft 3 in (3.1m) so the overall diameter here is about 58 ft (17.7m). The wall proportion might thus be about 35%, unusually small.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NG 32 NW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 140-41, no. 411: 3. Swanson 1985, 897-99 and plan: 4. MacSween 1984-85, 41, no. 1 and fig. 1.

E W MacKie 2007

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