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Dun (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Tarrel

Classification Dun (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 15642

Site Number NH98SW 19

NGR NH 9046 8034

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NH98SW 19 9046 8034.

NH 904 803. Dun, Tarrel: This dun occupies the summit of a rocky knoll overlooking the seashore. The dun wall has been destroyed on the seaward side, but elsewhere it measures up to 3.7m in thickness and encloses an area which now measures 9.5m by 6.7m.

RCAHMS 1979, visited 1977.

The dun at NH 9046 8034 is oval. The rocky knoll on which it is sited is connected on the landward side by a narrow isthmus of rock. Overall the dun measures 11.0m E-W by 7.0m; little remains of the wall except on the approachable W side where a disfigured wall or revetment stands 0.9m high. On the other three sides the position is naturally defended. Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (J B) 18 February 1981.

Dun - mainly outside survey area, looked for, not located.

CFA/MORA Coastal Assessment Survey 1998.


Excavation (7 September 2013 - 13 September 2013)

NH 9046 8034 An excavation was undertaken, 7–13 September 2013, at Tarrel, which was identified as a dun during a RCAHMS visit in 1979. The site is located on a rocky knoll on a pebble shore on the E coast of the Tarbat peninsula. The knoll has a sub-circular summit dropping off to sheer cliffs on the seaward side and a steep sloping hill on the landward side. At the base of the NE slope of the knoll is a cave with access from the pebble beach below. During an initial survey, walls were identified on the landward side of the knoll, curving around the upper and lower slopes of the hill and at its base. On the top of the knoll a short length of earthen bank was seen running around the S edge of the summit. The knoll is a prominent feature in the landscape and commands clear views out across the Moray Firth and its northern coastline and along the eastern shoreline of the peninsula.

A total of five trenches were excavated, targeting the summit of the knoll and the walls encircling it. In addition, features identified in the cave were photographed and planned. The excavations on the summit identified a linear stone-faced rampart, which ran the entire length of the summit for 12m, gently curving S at its E end. A blocked entranceway, which overlay an earlier rampart or wall face, was located at its E end. A test pit excavated against the face of the summit enclosure wall identified a number of deposits, one of which contained a blue glass bead.

Almost 2m below the summit wall was an even more substantial wall or rampart encircling the knoll, consisting of a very substantial dry stone structure, putatively identified as the surviving N side of a circular broch or dun c6m in diameter. Lower down the slope a large rubble bank was exposed encircling the landward side of the knoll, which may have been part of the entrance features of at least one phase of the enclosures identified on the knoll. A number of post-medieval walls were recorded on the lower slopes of the knoll and in the cave. The cave appears to have been more recently used by fishermen and a rock-cut bait hole was identified on a shelf close to the entrance.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: University of Aberdeen Development Trust in partnership with the Tarbat Discovery Centre

Candy Hatherley and Gordon Noble, University of Aberdeen, 2013

(Source: DES)


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