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Skye, Portee, Dun Gerashader

Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Skye, Portee, Dun Gerashader

Classification Fort (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 11271

Site Number NG44NE 3

NGR NG 4892 4527

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/11271

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

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

Archaeology Notes

NG44NE 3 4892 4527.

(NG 4892 4527). Dun Gerashader (NR)

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

...the ruins of Dun Gerashader (Name Book 1877), once a fort of great strength. The enceinte, oval in shape, measures internally 168ft NNW-SSE, and 100ft at its widest from ENE-WSW, and has been surrounded by a well-built stone wall. This wall has been erected along the edge of the ridge on the E and W flanks and round the N end, but at the S end of the enclosure it is carried transversely across the ridge, about its highest point and near the middle of its length, as a massive structure, measuring 14 ft thick and rising about 15ft above the level of the enceinte. The mass of tumbled stones at the base of the inner side of this wall is 10ft wide and 9ft high, and above this the face exhibits fine drystone building. Much of the walling is almost obliterated, but at several places the foundations can be traced. Outside the S wall are the remains of 3 lines of obstructions, in rows of large boulders up to 5ft in length, set on edge across the ridge. Immediately behind the inner line at its SW angle is an enclosure 28ft in length and 13ft in breadth. There has also been a small oval structure 10ft long by 7ft broad on the inside of the second wall near its E end.

The entrance to the dun is near the middle of the E flank, where the foundations of a gateway 8ft 6ins wide are to be seen. The approach is difficult as this part of the ridge is rocky but a narrow ledge towards the S may have formed the roadway. Between the entrance and the S end of the enceinte there has been an opening, the N jamb remaining in position.

Within the fort are the foundations of a number of small stone-walled structures, the majority of them now difficult to trace and as to their origin and purpose nothing definite can be said. Against the NE side are the foundations of a semicircular enclosure about 34ft in diameter internally, with a wall 3ft 6ins thick, and along the W wall are indications of a somewhat similar building.

RCAHMS 1928; Name Book 1877.

Dun Gerashader, a fort correctly described by RCAHMS.

There is evidence of an entrance towards the south end of the west side and a narrow track leads down the slopes southwards from this point.

Visited by OS (A S P) 26 April 1961.

Activities

Field Visit (27 May 1921)

Dun Gerashader, near Portree.

Between a bend in the River Chracaig and Lon a Ghearraidh, a small feeder on its left bank, about 1 mile north-north-east of Portree, is a flat-topped ridge with sides and ends rocky and in places precipitous. It runs almost due north and south, and rises about 40 feet above the immediate surrounding rough country, and its elevation is about 300 feet above sea level. The northern and least accessible half of the ridge is occupied by the ruins of Dun Gerashader, once a fort of great strength (Fig. 257). The enceinte, oval in shape, measures internally 168 feet from north-north-west to south-south-east, and 100 feet at its widest from east-north-east to west-south-west, and has been surrounded by a well-built stonewall. This wall has been erected on the edge of the ridge along the east and west flanks and round the northern end, but at the southern end of the enclosure it is carried transversely across the ridge, about its highest point and near the middle of its length, as a more massive structure (Fig. 259), measuring 14 feet in thickness and rising about 15 feet above the level of the enceinte. The mass of tumbled stones at the base of the inner side of this wall is 10 feet wide and 9 feet high, and above this the face exhibits fine drystone building. Much of the walling is almost obliterated, but at several places the foundations can be traced, showing a width varying from 7 feet on the eastern flank to 11 feet on the western. Outside the southern wall are the remains of lines of obstructions (Fig. 258), in rows of large boulders, up to 5 feet in length, set on edge across the ridge, the distance between the outer faces of the defences in this direction measured from the interior being about 32 feet, 33 feet, and 23 feet respectively. While the two outer lines are carried completely across the summit of the ridge, a third is carried only as far as a rocky bluff on the eastern side of the ridge. Immediately behind this line at its south-western angle is an enclosure 28 feet in length and 13 feet in breadth. There has also been a small oval structure 10 feet long by 7 feet broad on the inside of the second wall near its east end. The ridge extends about 50 yards southwards beyond the outer line of defence.

The entrance to the dun is near the middle of the eastern flank, where the foundations of a gateway 6 feet 8 inches wide are to be seen. The approach is difficult as this part of the ridge is rocky, but a narrow ledge extending towards the south may have formed the roadway. Between the entrance and the southern end of the enceinte there has been an opening, the northern jamb remaining in position. Within the fort are the foundations of a number of small stone-walled structures, the majority of them now difficult to trace. As to their origin and purpose nothing definite can be said. Against the north-eastern curve of this defence are the foundations of a semicircular enclosure of about 34 feet diameter internally, with a wall 3 feet 6 inches in thickness, and along the western wall are indications of a somewhat similar building.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 27 May 1921.

OS map: Skye xxiv (Dun Gernshader).

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 48920 45270 Dun Gerashader (Canmore ID: 11271) Described by RCAHMS (1928) as 'a fort of great strength', this site is actually represents the remains of two different forts. The later fort, as identified and planned by RCAHMS, survives as a massive stone wall up to six courses high, with an entrance in the E. A rectangular enclosure noted to the SW by RCAHMS is not an enclosure but the inner and outer face of a rampart with an entrance through it. The facing stones of the entrance likely influenced the previous misidentification of this feature as they superficially represent the shorter E side of a rectangular enclosure. This rampart continues to the E and includes many very large stones. Facing stones of this rampart continue along the W and E sides of the hill to the N and appear to be overlain by the large well-built wall of the later fort. This is almost certainly an earlier fort with an entrance to the S, with this entrance later blocked by the surviving wall of the later fort. The two lines of boulders identified by RCAHMS may be ramparts contemporary with the earlier fort as they appear to contain similarly sized large stones. Alternatively, they may represent reuse of the boulders from the earlier fort to add extra lines of defence or create a visually intimidating barrier on the more accesible S side of the knoll.

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 - 30 May 2016)

This fort is situated on a low ridge rising a little over 10m above the surrounding land and dropping away sharply around the N, E and W flanks. It is roughly oval on plan, the interior measures about 50m from NNW to SSE by 29m transversely (0.12ha). The main defence comprises a single wall, which on the S attains massive proportions, forming a mound of rubble 10m broad and rising up to 4.5m above the level of the interior; here the wall is about 4.2m thick, though elsewhere on the flanks of the ridge it is between 2.1m and 3.3m thick. There is an entrance on the ENE, but the OS suggested there was a second towards the S end of the W side. In addition to the wall at least four rows of upright boulders have been extended at intervals partly or wholly across the accessible SSE end of the ridge, though whether these are really part of the defences, to impede the easiest line of approach, as was first suggested by RCAHMS investigators in 1921 (RCAHMS 1928, 182-3, no. 577, fig 260), or are simply the result of later activity on the ridge is uncertain. Notably they are strung in a belt 20m deep across the ridge in straight lines up to 35m in length that make no attempt to replicate the curve of the wall. The fort certainly lies within a post medieval agricultural landscape, traces of which can be seen all round, and the stony foundations visible within the interior include two that are probably of relatively recent date and seem to be butted against the line of the wall.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 30 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2709

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