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Dun (Prehistoric)

Site Name Morangie

Classification Dun (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Tarlogie Farm

Canmore ID 14684

Site Number NH78SE 13

NGR NH 76163 83894

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Tain
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

The dun at NH 7616 8389 is situated on a small natural hillock in a now-arable field; internally, it measures approximately 15.0m NW-SE by 13.5m. It has been almost totally destroyed in the E and NW. The wall is best preserved in the N where it is spread to 5.0m and is 1.2m high. No entrance is discernible in the remains.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (J B) 23 February 1981.


Field Visit (October 1977)

Morangie NH 761 839 NH78SE

The wasted remains of this dun measure about 13m in diameter within a wall spread to between 4.5m and 7m in thickness and 1.2m in height.

RCAHMS 1979, visited October 1977

Excavation (April 2014 - July 2014)

NH 76160 83890 (NH78SE 13) As part of the Northern Picts Project surveys and excavations have been undertaken from 2012 to 2014 on six Atlantic roundhouses on the Tarbat Peninsula to track the nature of settlement in this landscape in the first millennium BC to AD.

The investigation of the thick-walled dry stone roundhouse at Tarlogie Farm Dun (also known as Morangie Dun) was undertaken over two field seasons in April and July 2014.

The roundhouse is located on a small knoll overlooking the S shore of the Dornoch Firth. Prior to excavation the upstanding remains of a large dry stone walled roundhouse could be clearly identified. The roundhouse measured c15m in internal diameter, best preserved along the N where the outer wall survived to c1.2m high and at least 5m wide. Excavation of

a 16 x 12m trench across the E half of the house identified a complex and multi-phased thick-walled dry stone roundhouse with an elaborate splayed E-facing entranceway. The investigation was designed to strip, map and record the final phase of the roundhouse walls and restricted to excavating a limited number of internal deposits.

Although extensively robbed, it was clear that the roundhouse walls had undergone substantial remodelling and widening. In their final form the walls were of composite construction, with an inner and outer wall face enclosing a core of rubble and earth, c5.6m wide. Earlier wall lines within

this rubble core indicating that they had been widened and had at one point been narrower, c3m in width. The E-facing splayed entranceway had also undergone substantial remodelling. In its final phase, it was partially flagged and widened out from 1.8m at the interior to 3.6m at the limit of excavation. Compacted layers of uneven cobbling suggest that the entrance may have had areas of timber flooring (very similar to the uneven boulder and cobbling within Dun Vulan which was interpreted as the base for a wooden floor).

Internally, a bay had been inserted into the N wall, creating a room with a compacted earthen floor running westward around the length of the wall from the entranceway. Multiple restructurings of the house were evident from cleaning the interior with the exposed area a complex palimpsest of

intercutting hearths, postholes and a possible furnace base of stone slabs encrusted with slag. A single rectangular stone-slab hearth and posthole were excavated to sample the structural features of the house. Possible smelting and smithing slag and a fragment of furnace lining along with a number of broken quern fragments and a pivot stone were recovered from the interior cleaning.

A test pit located against the internal face of the N wall identified a sequence of floors overlying a raft of levelling rubble, presumed associated with the primary construction of the house. An occupation layer overlying this rubble was dated to 370–160 BC suggesting the house was constructed and in use in the 4th to 2nd century BC. Overlying this was a possible floor layer dated to AD 25–130. The uppermost floor layer

contained an early type of zoomorphic penannular brooch and was dated to AD 235–385. This sequence indicates that the house was occupied on-and-off for almost 800 years. The presence of slag and furnace lining within a final occupation layer containing significant charcoal and burnt daub deposits suggests that the final phase of the house may have been

associated with metal-working.

Approximately 20m to the E of the house a series of test pits and a single 17m long trench identified a thick organic deposit (up to 1m in depth in places) comprising multiple thin lenses containing shells, animal bones and slag. This probable midden heap appeared to be built up against the E side of the house, close to the entrance and the approach to the site.

The handle of a soap-stone bowl or cup and broken quern fragments were recovered from the midden.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Candy Hatherley, Oskar Sveinbjarnarson and Gordon Noble – University of Aberdeen

(Source: DES)

(Source: DES)

Field Visit (26 February 2014)

This dun, which is situated within a later plantation bank in a formerly cultivated field, stands on the leading edge of a NNE-facing terrace overlooking the Dornoch Firth. Roughly circular on plan, it measures about 15m in diameter within a wall which seems to have measured about 2m in thickness. This wall has largely been reduced to a grass-grown bank measuring up to 5m in thickness and 1.2m in height, but on NW and ENE it has been flattened to such an extent that in both places it now appears as little more than a low spread of rubble that has been pushed into the interior of the dun and beyond the outer limit of the collapsed wall, that on the ENE as far as the plantation bank. A single, probably inner, facing-stone is visible on the W. No trace of an entrance was seen on the date of visit and modern field clearance now obscures the southern and central parts of the interior.

Visited by RCAHMS (GFG, JRS, IP), 26 February 2014.

Measured Survey (26 February 2014)

RCAHMS surveyed Morangie dun with plane-table and self-reducing alidade on 26 February 2014 at a scale of 1:250. Control points and sections were recorded with dGPS. The resultant plan and sections were redrawn in vector graphics software.


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