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Skye, Tungadale

Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Site Name Skye, Tungadale

Classification Souterrain (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 11311

Site Number NG44SW 1

NGR NG 4076 4006

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NG44SW 1 4076 4006.

(NG 4076 4006) Dun (NR)

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

Earth-house, Tungadal - about 150 yards E of Loch Duagrich .. is an earth-house, which, though partially destroyed, still shows a long straight gallery drystone building roofed with long lintel stones under about 9ins of soil, in a good state of preservation. Access to the building is at present obtained through a break in the roof and wall at the NE. The chamber runs towards the SW with maximum height of about 3ft 6ins. The walls are well built and on the S side there are several large slabs set on end. At the NE end of the gallery there are indications in a stone hollow that it had continued in a curve towards the N and back towards the W, and perhaps was connected with two oval cells placed end to end in a line roughly parallel with the gallery. The indications of these oval chambers are very indefinite and their existence can only be verified by excavation. They appear as stony hollows measuring some 12ft and 9ft in length and about 7ft and 6ft in breadth respectively. This earth-house is marked "Dun" on the OS map."

RCAHMS 1928.

Earth-house as described. Curved NE end abuts onto and is overlaid by foundations of a ruined house. At the SW end are the possible remains of a collapsed cell.

Visited by OS (A S P) 19 April 1961.


Publication Account (2007)


NG/4076 4006

This souterrain, associated with a rectangular homestead (partly excavated into the hill slope) in Bracadale, Skye, is situated in Glen Bracadale a few feet above the east shore of Loch Duagrich near its east end. The house is on the north-facing crest of a small knoll and about 300 ft (90.2m) above sea level [2]. Excavations were carried out in 1988 by Roger Miket [3] and are briefly described here because the pottery recovered is the standard early or middle Iron Age indigenous ware of the Western Isles.

Summary of excavations

The underground passage was located within the thickness of the house wall, between the inner face and the natural hill slope, and had evidently been used while the house was occupied [3]. The pottery and finds seem mostly to have been in the successive floor deposits of the Iron Age house. No C-14 dates were obtained for the Iron Age occupation.


Like Dun Ardtreck in its primary phase of occupation the pottery suggests that Tungadale house and souterrain could have been occupied, by elements of the indigenous population, almost at any time between the 7th century BC and the 2nd century AD. At Dun Ardtreck Everted Rim ware appeared in about the 2nd century so its absence from Tungadale could imply that the site was abandoned before that date.

Finds: there are no details of these except for illustrations – without descriptions – of about 40 potsherds [3, figs. 31-33]. The pottery however is strikingly similar to that found in the early levels of Dun Ardtreck a few miles to the west across Loch Harport (NG33 2). It consists mainly of Vaul ware vases and barrel-shaped urns but with far less ornament than in the semibroch. There are no clear signs of Everted Rim ware.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NG 44 SW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 148, no. 497: 3. Miket 2002: 4. MacKie 1975, 166-7: 5. Ritchie and Harman 1996, 29.

E W MacKie 2007

External Reference (2011)

Sub-rectangular stone and earth-built homestead, c. 11 by 4m with a contemporary souterrain. The interior of the homestead appears to have been for domestic habitation, with remnants of benches in the eastern half of the building and a central hearth. Occupational debris on the floor level of the homestead produced a range of pottery. Later a circular 'shieling-type' building was built within the ruins of the homestead. It had a well-built inner wall-face, short entrance passageway and two floor levels each with a hearth. C-14 dates and a small 14th c bronze mirror case recovered from the passageway confirm 13th to 14th century date for this later building. Sometime in the 18th or 19th century two rectangular stone buildings were built a few metres to the east.

The souterrain entrance was not hidden. There was also access from the structure. A drain had been inserted into the floor of the souterrain, leading out through the entrance, beneath the main occupation area, to an external cobbled yard.

Finds from the excavation are in Dualchas. The site has been laid out for display, with access by foot from Totarder, Glen Bracadale.

(Miket 2002).

Radiocarbon dates of the Tungadale building are c. 3rd century BC (Armit 1993, 241), showing clearly that subrectangular buildings were also being constructed as well as the familiar roundhouses.

Armit, Ian 1993. The Archaeology of Skye and the Western Isles, pp. 131-3, 241

Roger Miket 2002. 'The Souterrains of Skye' in Beverley Balin Smith & Iain Banks (eds). In the Shadow of the Brochs. The Iron Age in Scotland, pp. 83, 90, 98-101.

Note: called Tungadale in Armit 1993 and Miket 2002.

Associated with BUILDINGS

Information from ARCH Community Timeline course, 2011


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