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Tiree, Dun Hiader

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Dun (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Tiree, Dun Hiader

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Dun (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Dun Shiadair

Canmore ID 21408

Site Number NL93NE 1

NGR NL 9642 3887

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Tiree
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NL93NE 1 9642 3887.

(NL 9642 3887) Dun Hiader (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

Dun, Dun Hiader: This dun and its outworks are situated on the summit and flanks of a conspicuous rocky crag some 400m SE of West Hynish farmhouse. The summit, occupied by the dun, rises 6.5m above the narrow col that links the crag to the lower slopes of Ben Hynish to the NE, but on all other sides the site is protected by rocky cliffs, which range in height from about 6m on the NW flank to as much as 14.5m on the SE.

The dun is oval on plan and measures 10m by 8m within a dry-stone wall, which varies in thickness from about 2.4m on the NE to 4.2m on the W, where it has had to be based upon a steeply sloping, relatively smooth rock-face. Considerable stretches of the outer face have survived in situ, the best-preserved sectors being on the W and immediately S of the entrance, where in each case it stands a little over 1m high in four courses; of the inner face only the NE half of the perimeter can still be traced. The short stretch of outward-facing revetment within the body of the wall on the WNW is all that now survives of an intramural gallery about 0.75m wide, which, as Beveridge (E Beveridge 1903) records, was formerly visible throughout most of the SW half of the circuit. It is possible that the unusually large amount of sand and earth that can be seen in the wall core represents material that was deposited in the gallery during a secondary phase of the dun's occupation, as at the broch of Dun Mor, Vaul (NM04NW 3). The entrance, which is situated on the NE and measures 1m in width at its mouth, appears to have been deliberately blocked, the outer end being closed by rudimentary walling and the passage itself being choked with rubble and occupation debris. An earthfast stone lying just inside the line of the inner face to the S of the entrance may have belonged to a wall sealing the other end of the passage. Within the interior, which is largely obscured by tumbled wall debris, there are the ruined foundations of a subrectangular building of no great age.

Wherever the natural strength of the position was deemed inadequate the dun has been additionally protected by an outer wall, surviving for the most part, and particularly on the NW and SE, as an intermittent scatter of grass-covered stony debris in which occasional outer facing-stones can still be seen. On the NE, however, where the summit is more easily accessible, the wall appears to have been much more strongly built, attaining a maximum thickness of 4.3m on each side of the entrance. A little lower down the slope on that side there are traces of a third wall, which has been almost totally obscured by the collapsed debris of the upper defences and is cross at one point by a recent boundary-dyke of massive proportions; doubtless it served as a hornwork to protect the outer entrance. The name 'Hiader' is said (E Beveridge 1903) to be a Gaelic corruption of the Norse 'setr' - 'a shieling'.

RCAHMS 1980; E Beveridge 1903; E W MacKie 1963.

Dun Shiader would be a more acceptable spelling.

Information from I Fraser, (School of Scottish Studies) 24 October 1974.

Revised at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (R D) 30 June 1972.

Name changed to Dun Shiadair by local authority.

Information from OS, April 1985.


Publication Account (2007)

NL93 1 DUN HIADER (‘Dun Shiader’)


This probable ground-galleried broch or oval dun on Tiree stands overlooking the beach at the foot of Ben Hynish, on top of a rocky knoll the precipitous sides of which are up to 14.5m high (visited 8/62). The structure is oval with internal diameters of 10m and 8m, the wall being 2.4m thick on the north-east and 4.2m on the west; parts of the outer face stand up to 1.0m in height. At the beginning of the twentieth century a mural gallery was visible around most of the south-west half of the wall [2] but now there is only a short stretch of its inner face on the north-west [1]. The entrance is on the north-east and is 1m wide at the outer end. There are no means of knowing from the visible remains whether this structure originally had the broch hollow wall.

An outer wall can be traced on the north-west and south-east, as a scatter of grass-covered stony debris, but on the north-east – where the approach is easier – the wall is up to 4.3m thick on either side of an outer gateway. There are traces of a second outer defence a little further down the slope.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NL 93 NE 1: 2. Beveridge 1903, 80-2: 3. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, 1963, 21: 4. RCAHMS 1980, 109-10, no. 209 and fig. 127.

E W MacKie 2007

Note (5 November 2014 - 4 August 2016)

This fortification, which is situated on a conspicuous rocky crag, comprises two elements: a roughly oval dun commanding the summit, and an outer enclosure following the margin of the rocky promontory above the shore. The dun is a relatively well-preserved structure measuring 10m by 8m within a galleried wall up to 4.2m in thickness, with outer faces standing up to 1m high and an entrance on the NE and appears to have been deliberately blocked; a small subrectangular building is visible within its interior. The supposed outwork dominates the narrow col linking the promontory on the landward side on the NE and here is up to 4.3m in thickness to either side of the entrance; elsewhere it little more than a band of rubble that can be traced along parts of the NW and SE margins of the promontory to create an irregular enclosure of about 0.2ha. Further protection at the entrance is provided by an outer wall below it.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 04 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2490


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