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Dun Skudiburgh, Skye

Dun (Prehistoric), Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Dun Skudiburgh, Skye

Classification Dun (Prehistoric), Fort (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 11195

Site Number NG36SE 1

NGR NG 3740 6472

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NG36SE 1 3740 6472.

(NG 3740 6472) Dun Skudiburgh (NR)

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

This fort occupies a conspicuous knoll near the shore 1 mile N of Uig Bay. It is oval on plan, measuring axially 150' x 120' within a ruined wall c. 10' thick. It is covered on the E side by a similar wall 320' long, and on the N by two walls, the outer of which stops short of the long wall to leave an entrance gap.

A small drop-shaped dun measuring internally 34' x 24' lies on the E arc of the ruined wall near the probable position of the entrance of the latter. The wall of the dun varies between 9'-12' thick.

R W Feachem 1963; RCAHMS 1928, visited 1921.

Dun Skudiburgh, a partly vitrified fort, overlaid by a dun, is generally as planned by the RCAHMS. There is an additional outwork on the W; it turns E on a change of slope, then S where it is overlaid by a more recent wall. There are remains of extra defence on the E where steep rock faces outside the main outwork have been joined by stretches of walling. There are traces of what may be a similar blocking wall on the W below the main fort wall, but this is confused by more recent walls in the same area. Lumps of vitrifaction were noted in the main wall of the fort in the W arc.

A medial stabilising wall is visible round the W and S sides of the dun, varying from c. 0.7m to c. 1.0m in from the outer wall face. The entrance is not evident, but was probably from the E, where there is a gap in the tumble.

Visited by OS (R L) 8 September 1971.


Field Visit (6 June 1921)

Dun Skudiburgh.

On the eastern shore of Loch Snizort, about 1¾ miles west-north-west of Uig, and ¾ mile north of Ru Idrigil, the promontory on the north side of the mouth of Uig Bay, is a rocky ridge running north-west and south-east, and rising to a height of 100 feet above the sea to the west, and about 50 feet above the hollow which intervenes between it and Creag Liath, a hill 563 feet high on the east. The highest part, a grassy plateau of considerable extent, is towards the southern end of the height which narrows and tails away to the north in a series of terraces and slopes defined by outcrops of rock. The southern end and western flank are precipitous, and on the east it is steep and rocky.

A stone wall probably 9 to 13 feet thick, but now almost obliterated, has been erected within a few feet of the edge of the rocks to enclose an oval-shaped plateau. There is no entrance visible. (Fig. 212.)

At the north-east of this enclosure are the remains of a drystone building showing a number of interesting features. Somewhat drop-shaped on plan, with the apex to the north, its axes measure internally 35 feet in length and 25 feet in breadth. The wall is built with a considerable batter, and in places rises to a height of 9 feet on the outside and 4 feet above the debris in the interior. It varies from about 9 feet thick on the north to 12 feet at the base round the southern arc, where roughly 2 feet or so above the ground it is reduced to 7 feet in thickness by an intake on the outer and inner faces. At the northern corner is a recess 7 feet 4 inches in width and 2 feet in depth. The entrance is indistinguishable, but was no doubt on the east where the wall is most dilapidated. Abutting on the inside of the northern part of the wall of the inner court and 25 feet north-west of this building is a hut circle 12 to 14 feet in diameter.

Beyond the inner wall and at a lower level an outer stone wall 7 to 9 ½ feet in thickness has started from the edge of the cliff at the south-eastern end of the ridge, and has been carried in a slight curve along. the entire length of the eastern edge of the ridge. The southern half is totally destroyed, but the whole can be followed for 320 feet northwards, where it returns for 75 feet in a south-westerly direction and then curves southwards for 25 feet to meet the cliff on the western flank, thus forming on the northern slope a large triangular outer courtyard, of which a cross wall, about 100 feet in length and 6 ½ to 9 ½ feet in thickness, with the rocky shelf on which it is built, is the base. South of this cross wall a lesser triangularly-shaped area slopes downwards from the main wall.

In the outer courtyard on the northern slope are two hut circles abutting on the inside of the western wall and traces of probably two others. Along the inside of the eastern wall is a long narrow area about 59 by 14 feet internally, enclosed by stone foundations averaging 5 feet in thickness. On the terracing at the southern end of the outer wall is a rectangular depression 12 feet wide and of indefinite length.

The entrance to the fort, 8 feet wide, is at the northern extremity and pierces the wall of the outer courtyard at its lowest level. The roadway, defined by a distinct hollow enflanked on the east by the outer wall and the foundations of the narrow area before mentioned, is carried up the hill and passes through a gap between the cross wall and the eastern outer wall along the side of which it continues, but itis impossible to say whether it entered the summit before or after the drop-shaped building was reached.

On the western side of the ridge is a terrace which lies some 50 feet lower than the summit and is bounded on the outside by a high cliff. On this terrace there are considerable debris and the remains of a stone wall, apparently of later construction, built from the base of the cliff above to the edge of the cliff below.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 6 June 1921.

OS map: Skye vi.

Field Visit (20 April 2015 - 22 April 2015)

Field visits were undertaken to various sites, 20–22 April 2015, as part of a general survey of forts on Skye carried out by Simon Wood and Ian Ralston as part of the fieldwork for the former’s PhD research.

NG 37400 64720 Dun Skudiburgh (Canmore ID: 11195) Occupying a position of some strength on a conspicuous knoll, Dun Skudiburgh, a dun sitting on top of a vitrified fort, has perhaps been underrepresented by previous investigators. At least two different phases are visible in the dun, with considerably poorer quality drystone walling including many smaller stones evident to the W, S and SE.

A poor quality wall running parallel parallel to the main dun wall c1m outside it in the W and S has little structural integrity in itself and is likely to be compartively recent. The vitrified fort is more complex than depicted in the RCAHMS plan (1928).

Two additional lines of defence were observed on the steep E side, the outer more easily discernible with a clearly visible outer face up to three courses high in places. The inner is only identifiable in a few patches up to two courses high.

The enclosure identfied by RCAHMS in the NW appears more likely to be a bank running parallel to the fort wall. Another rampart leading N away from the N-facing entrance is probably also a later field bank, possibly a continuation of this feature. An additional area is enclosed by a wall on the W. The OS previously identified this rampart as a probable later wall, but no stratigraphic evidence was noted for this to be the case. It defends a steep but accessible slope into a small plateau surrounded by sheer cliffs falling to the sea.

In total there are three apparent lower enclosures that may be contemporary with either the fort or the dun. Vitrified stone was observed on several stones in the inner fort wall. Two rocky beaches, one to the N and one to the S are less than 200m away from the fort and offer comparitively easy access to and from the sea.

Archive: National Record of the Historic Environment (intended)

Funder: School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh

Simon Wood and Ian Ralston – University of Edinburgh

(Source: DES, Volume 16)

Note (16 January 2015 - 31 August 2016)

A complex fortification is situated on a hillock overlooking the shore on the first headland north of the mouth of Uig Bay. Protected by precipitous cliffs on the S and W, and steep rocky slopes on the NW and E, the hillock is roughly triangular in plan, but it rises into a roughly oval summit which is enclosed by the innermost defences. Measuring about 40m from E to W by 33m transversely (0.12ha) within a wall about 3m in thickness, pieces of vitrifaction have been found amongst the rubble on its W flank. This inner enclosure is overlain on the E by a small dun which seems to have reused the line of the earlier wall to create an angle on the N in its otherwise circular plan; the dun measures 3.6m across the interior within an externally battered wall up to 3.6m in thickness, and its outer face still stands up to 2.5m in height; the entrance is not visible, but there is a curious recess in the inner face of the wall at the N angle, which together with an internal face observed by the OS in the thickness of the wall may indicate a certain amount of modification and re-working of the structure. The outer defences of the fort include a wall extending the length of the E flank of the hillock below the summit enclosure, and turning sharply back on itself at its N end, in effect creating a triangular annexe on the N. What appears to be a substantial rectangular building, measuring 18m in length by 4.3m in breadth within a foundation 1.5m in thickness is set against the E wall of this annexe, which is also subdivided by a cross-wall extending across the slope below the N flank of the summit enclosure. An entrance at the N apex of the annexe opens onto a sinuous path leading down the slope, while a gap at the E end of the cross provided access leading up to the summit enclosure. RCAHMS investigators in 1921 noted one hollow on the N side of the summit enclosure and at least two more in the annexe that they believed were the remains of contemporary hut-circles (RCAHMS 1928, 17-2, no.542, fig 243), but subsequent fieldwork by the OS has passed no comment. The OS however, observed traces of walling in gaps between the outcrops along the E flank, though whether this is related to the defences of the fort or part of the agricultural enclosures in the vicinity is uncertain; they also identified a possible outwork on W.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2707


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