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In recognition of the essential restrictions and measures imposed by the Scottish and UK Governments, we have closed all sites, depots and offices, including the HES Archives and Library, with immediate effect. Read our latest statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mull, Dun Na Muirgheidh

Bank (Earthwork) (Period Unassigned), Building(S) (Period Unassigned), Cairn (Period Unassigned), Clearance Cairn (Period Unassigned), Ditch (Period Unassigned), Dyke (Period Unassigned), Fort (Period Unassigned), Midden (Period Unassigned), Naust (Period Unassigned), Track (Period Unassigned)

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

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilfinichen And Kilvickeon
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM42SW 2 4127 2363.

(NM 4127 2363) Dun na Muirgheidh (NR)

OS 6" map (1900)

Dun na Muirheidh (NAT) Fort (NR)

(Name mis-spelled on 1:10,000 plan.)

OS 1:10000 map (1976)

Fort, Dun na Muirgheidh: This fort, measuring about 30m by 21m internally, is situated 3 km NE of Bunessan on a rocky promontory which projects into a small bay near the mouth of Loch Scridain. From the S the approach is comparatively easy, but the E and W flanks of the promontory develop into sheer rock-faces, rising to a maximum height of 9.5m above the shore on the NNW.

The defences comprise four walls, the innermost (A on plan) following summit of the promontory, and the others lying to the S. Wall A is a massive structure, and long stretches of the outer face survive round the S half of its circuit, standing at best to a height of 1.5m in seven courses. At the entrance, on the S, the wall attains its greatest thickness of 5.2m, but some 10m to the E, the only other point where an accurate measurement can be taken, it has decreased to 3.5m, probably the width that was maintained for the rest of its course. The remains of the wall diminish progressively along the E and W sides, and all traces have disappeared at the NW tip.

Two constructional phases are clearly visible at the entrance. In the first phase the passage measured 2.3m in width at its outer end but increased to a width of 2.7m at a point 2.7m from the outside, where it was checked for a door, beyond which the width decreased slightly. Behind the check the mouth of a bar-hole can be seen in the E side wall, with a corresponding recess in the opposite side of the passage. In the second phase a reducing-wall was built against the E side-wall, thereby decreasing the width of the passage to 1.2m externally and to 1.5m inward from the check; the original bar-hole and socket remained in use. The quality of this second- phase masonry is noticeably inferior to that of the original. The interior contains the dry-stone foundations of two sub-rectangular buildings, which are probably of late medieval date. Wall B springs from the outer face of wall A about 6m E of the entrance, and runs in a gentle curve along a natural terrace some 3m below the level of the summit before ending abruptly on the tip of a bare spine of rock. Of massive construction, it varies in thickness between 2.7m and 3.7m, and survives to a maximum height of 1.2m in three courses at the entrance, which is in line with the entrance through wall A. The original entrance was subsequently blocked with carefully-laid dry-stone masonry.

Wall C runs across almost level ground at the base of the promontory some 8m outside, and 3.5m below, wall B. It measures 2.4m in average thickness, and some massive boulders have been used as facing-stones, the outer face standing up to 1.2m high in four courses, with the rubble core rising 1.7m in height. The approximate position of the entrance is indicated by the gap shown on the plan W of the modern wall.

Only a short stretch of wall D remains visible, on the W side of the modern wall. It consists of a grass-grown stony bank, not more than 0.5m high, faced on either side with boulders, indicating a thickness of 2.4m. All other traces have been obliterated by stone-robbing, probably carried out in connection with the construction of two adjacennt sub-rectangular buildings, similar in character to those within the fort. These buildings may bbe compared with those found in association with a number of medieval castles and probably indicate a secondary phase of occupation at that period.

RCAHMS 1980, visited 1973

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (DWR) 1 June 1972.

Scheduled as Dun na Muirgheidh, fort... with the remains of buildings suggesting later reuse.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 11 November 2003.


Field Visit (1934)

Fort, Dun Nan Mulrochaigh.

Almost opposite Dun Bhuirg (NM42NW 1) on rocky promontory 80' by 40' sheer cliffs to shore on each side and descending by ledges on landward side. Massive wall 12' wide along summit of neck. Door with checks 2' 8" inside 2' outside but evidence of rebuilding. Trace of cell on right. Half way down slope, wall 8' thick with gate 2' 8" wide. At foot probably ditch with outer wall. Subrectangular foundations in interior (?) secondary.

Visited by VG Childe 1934

Note incorporated into RCAHMS Emergency Survey.

Sketch in MS 36.

Field Visit (25 June 1943)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Emergency Survey (1942-3), an unpublished rescue project. Site descriptions, organised by county, vary from short notes to lengthy and full descriptions and are available to view online with contemporary sketches and photographs. The original typescripts, manuscripts, notebooks and photographs can also be consulted in the RCAHMS Search Room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 10 December 2014.

Field Visit (1 January 2009 - 31 August 2010)

The area was systematically walked on several occasions. Each feature found was recorded & a GPS reading and photograph taken. A limited clearance of some features was carried out to enable measurement.

Reference (1 January 2009 - 31 August 2010)

A desk study was carried out of all known historical documents,maps & aerial photographs realting to the site. Interviews were also carried out with site owners & other local people with knowledge of the history of the area.

Srp Note (25 August 2011)

The northern tip of the main dyke that divides Crofts 1 and 2 of Kilpatrick Farm terminates at the inner defensive wall.

This fort is also known as Dun a’ Mhorair - Fort of the Lord (Charles Maclean 'The Isle of Mull: Placenames, Meanings and Stories') and by older local inhabitants as the “Danish Fort”.

MIDDEN. NM 41317 23607. An accumulation of limpet and other shells to the E of the fort, above high tide level, may constitute a shell midden that is gradually becoming exposed by sea erosion.

STONE PILES. NM 41327 23524. Three individual, but closely related, piles of stones (moss covered) of around 3m diameter at the NE end of two trackways, and in close proximity to Dun na Muirgheidh to the N. They do not appear to be field clearance cairns so may be burial cairns.

QUARRY/NAUST NM 41289 23552. A NNW-facing recess in a natural rock outcrop that appears to have been excavated or at least extended. It measures around 10m deep by 5m wide with a maximum height of rock face of around 2m. Because of its close proximity to Dun na Muirgheidh, the rock may have been quarried for construction purposes, either for the fort itself or for the later buildings that stand in and around it. The recess stands a few metres above the current high tide level, and may also have been used as a boat naust or shelter, for which it is ideal.

STONE PILE NM 41288 23568 A small pile of loose stones that have been stacked against the northern end of the rock face on the western side of the recess.

CAIRNS NM 41263 23499 Two piles of large stones on a low promontory near a cliff edge above the seashore, that appear to be cairns. One is around 7.5m in diameter, and has small upright stones

around the margin and may be the remains of a kerbed cairn. The other is around 4m in diameter. Both piles appear to have been disrupted, and/or added to, by later field clearance, and there are other features in the vicinity that may be the remains of other structures or enclosures.

SINGLE-CELL STRUCTURE NM 41388 23503 The turf-covered remains of stone footings of a sub-rectangular structure, measuring around 3.5m x 3n. It is situated on a flat platform at the top edge of a break of slope, amongst the remains of strip cultivation.

STONE PILE NM 41324 23426 A small pile of stones occurs in close proximity, and may be field clearance of rocks from the small structure.

DYKE & DITCH NM 41230 23370 The stone footings of a curving, N-S field boundary a few metres to the W of the large boat-shaped stone pile or cairn at NM 41238 23388 . A short section of ditch runs parallel to one section of the dyke.

STRUCTURE, BANK AND DITCH NM 41333 23456 What appears to be the remains of the dry-stone footings of a small stone structure with an adjacent section of bank and ditch.

TRACKWAY NM 41317 23440 NM 41319 23467

The remains of a former trackway that cuts through a natural break of slope, heading in a NE direction towards Dun na Muirgheadh and the stone piles at NM 41327 23524. The two wheel ruts are very distinctive in places and are around 3m apart. The trackway may be associated with the Dun or the later Medieval buildings in and around the fort, and was probably used into modern times.

CAIRN NM 41238 23388 A prominent, boat-shaped pile of stones measuring 9m x 5m, by 1.5m high. It is oriented roughly N-S, and stands in the middle of an open area of grassland.

DYKE & PILE OF STONES NM 41207 23446 The footings of a short section of dry-stone dyke, oriented north-south, that runs between the shore near the harbour(Poll an Dobhrain NM 41209 23501) to a low crag. At its southern end it develops into a large pile of stones around 4.5m wide against the rock face.

STONE PILE NM 41300 23420 Between the eastern end of the enclosures at NM41288 23394 and the modern fence line, stands another pile of stones that may have resulted from field clearance. There is a short section of ditch adjacent to this pile, and the field surface to the N and W shows signs of strip cultivation with a series of rigs and furrows.


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