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Loch Sunart, Dun Ghallain

Dun (Period Unassigned), Enclosure (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Midden (Period Unassigned), Worked Object

Site Name Loch Sunart, Dun Ghallain

Classification Dun (Period Unassigned), Enclosure (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Midden (Period Unassigned), Worked Object

Alternative Name(s) Camasinas

Canmore ID 22507

Site Number NM66SW 5

NGR NM 6476 6003

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Ardnamurchan
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM66SW 5 6476 6003.

At NW 6476 6003 is a dun (noted by Cameron {1954} as a fort, and also traditionally the site of a castle) on a knoll on Dun Ghallain, a rocky islet only accessible at low water. Its shape conforms to the summit of the knoll and it measures c. 16.0m N-S by c. 11.0m within a ruinous stone wall. Both inner and outer wall faces can be seen occasionally, the latter surviving to a maximum height of three courses, giving a wall thickness varying from 1.4m in the NE to 3.4m at the entrance in the SW, which is at the easiest point of access. Part of the base course of the N side of the entrance passage is visible. The dun is protected by crags on all sides but the W and here, at the base of the knoll, two or three stones suggest that there may have been a wall protecting the approach, but it is too obscured by tumble and grass to be certain. Outside the entrance is a natural platform with traces of a wall along its S side which has blocked a gap in the crags. Within the dun are the footings of a rectangular building oriented E-W and measuring c. 3.2m x 2.0m within a wall 0.8m thick. Its SW corner appears to overlie the dun wall although this is not too clear; otherwise it is in the same state of preservation as the dun. Surrounding the knoll are the remains of a crude wall of boulders laid haphazardly on a rocky scrap. It may have constituted an animal enclosure associated with the dun.

Visited by OS (R L) 2 June 1970.

A Cameron 1954.

(NM 6476 6003) Dun (NR) (Siting symbol published)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1973)

Below the crag in the SE, a midden of limpet and scallop shells, bones, and a few small pieces of mortared stones, has been exposed. The mortared stones may be from the rectangular building although none can be seen in its structural remains.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (A A) 4 July 1974.

A rectangular bone object, apparently a stage in the manufacture of bone beads, from a kitchen midden at Dun Ghallain, was donated to the NMAS in 1974-5 by Mr I Thornber, Ardtornish.

I Thornber 1974

Dun, Dun Ghallain: This dun occupies the summit of the rocky knoll that forms the highest part of a small tidal island lying off the N shore of Loch Sunart. The sides of the knoll rise as cliffs up to 7.6m high except on the W, where there is reasonable access up a steep rocky slope.

Irregular on plan, the dun measures about 13m by 11m internally, the wall following the outline of the summit of the knoll. Considerable stretches of both inner and outer facing-stones are visible, the outer face standing to a maximum height of 1m in three courses. On the NW, at the one point where it can be measures, the wall is 2.1m thick, but it was probably thicker on each side of the entrance, which is situated on the WSW. Partly overlying the wall on the SE are the foundations of a rectangular enclosure of no great age.

Round the base of the knoll there is an outwork consisting partly of very large boulders dragged roughly into line to form a crude obstacle, and partly of stretches of rubble resembling the remains of the core material of a boulder-faced wall. Each of the two gaps in the outwork, situated on the NW and NE respectively, appears to be an original entrance.

RCAHMS 1980, visited 1963.

A dun has been built on this island accessible only at low tide. The dun encloses an area c16m by 11m. This has been a desk assessment area.

J Wordsworth, SSSIs, Scottish Natural Heritage, 1993.

Scheduled as Dun Ghallain, dun 1500m SW of Camasinas.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 13 December 2000.


Aerial Photography (30 August 2010)

NM 6476 6003 Aerial reconnaissance in association with RCAHMS on 30 August 2010 noted a cleared landing strip leading through a boulder beach into the gully below the E side of the dun. The dun is adjacent to a sheltered natural harbour and overlooks its narrow entrance. It seems likely that dun, harbour, and landing strip complement one another, though a tradition that the site was once a castle and the presence of a small rectangular foundation within the dun raise the possibility that the association is not necessarily prehistoric.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: RCAHMS and Morvern Maritime Centre

Colin Martin – Morvern Maritime Centre


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