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Due to scheduled maintenance work by our external provider, background aerial imagery on Canmore may be unavailable

between 12:00 Friday 15th December and 12:00 Monday 18th December


Torr An Duin, Loch Nan Gabhar

Fort (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Torr An Duin, Loch Nan Gabhar

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Lochan Na Gour

Canmore ID 23336

Site Number NM96SE 1

NGR NM 9700 6330

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NM96SE 1 9700 6330.

At NM 9700 6330, on an isolated rocky ridge, running NW-SE, known as Torr an Duin, are the remains of a fort.

The highest (SE) part of the ridge, measuring c. 40.0m by c. 15.0m, has been defended by a wall which can be traced in the NW, N, and NE, where the base course of the outer face is visible intermittently. A quantity of tumble at the base of the cliffs elsewhere suggests that the wall continued around the cliff top, but there is now no trace of it.

At a lower level to the NW and along the NE side of the ridge is a further wall, now visible as a turf- covered bank spread to c. 3.0m and c. 0.5m high. It is uncertain how or where it was joined to the main wall, but it may be a continuation of the wall marked A-B on plan. At its NW extremity is an excavation made by Reid (1909) in 1908 where he found an "exceptionally strong wall of two courses with masses of vitrified material inside it." The excavation is now overgrown and no vitrified material can be seen but two earthfast stones here may be of the inner and outer faces giving a wall thickness of 2.3m.

The change in level between the walls is noted by Reid as a partly artificial ditch, but it appears to be natural.

Feachem (1963), and Reid, who writes them off as cattle pens, note several "mound marked enclosures" to the W of the fort, but there is nothing here but natural formations.

Reid notes the entrance to the fort "in its E end, a door check being cut into the rock a third of the way up the path, and inside the barrier a quarry-like clearing, possibly a pen for animals,". The entrance cannot now be located, but it would probably be in the NW at the easiest approach. The alleged door check was not located but the quarry-like clearing is a sub-rectangular shelf in the SE slope of the ridge, with traces of walling around it, and is probably a sheep pen associated with depopulated activities at the S base of the ridge.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

A Reid 1909; R W Feachem 1963; Visited by OS (R L) 7 May 1970.

(NM 9700 6330) Fort (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

Fort, Torr an Duin: The summit of Torr an Duin, a narrow rocky ridge rosing to a height of some 25m above the N shore of Loch nan Gobhar, is occupied by the remains of a univallate stone-walled fort. On the NE, SE and SW sides precipitous rocky slopes afford strong natural protection, but a more gentle, although rock-studded, incline provides relatively easy access from the NW. The fort measures approximately 45m by 12m internally and has been defended by a stone wall, which survives on the N half of the perimeter as a low grass-grown band of stony debris, ranging from about 1m to 3.3m in thickness. At various points, and particularly on the NW, short stretches and individual stones of the outer face have been preserved in situ, as shown on the plan; no inner facing-stones can, however, be seen. Elsewhere the wall appears to have collapsed down the steep sides of the ridge, and a considerable amount of debris has accumulated at the foot of the slope on the SW.

When excavation was carried out in 1908, it is recorded (Reid 1909) that a large amount of vitrified material was recovered from a 'remarkable tumulus' at the W end of the fort, although none was found in any of the other sections cut through the defences. The only vitrifaction to be seen on the date of visit was a single lump found lying in tumbled debris at the foot of the SW slope. However, comparison of the published plan with the surviving remains makes it tolerably clear that the excavator had overestimated the length of the fort, and the source of vitrified stone thus lay approximately 30m NW of its E end. Whether the vitrifaction discovered in 1908 came from an outer wall, now totally obscured, or from the main wall cannot now be determined, but the latter alternative seems more likely.

The entrance is situated in the middle of the N side, immediately NW of a large boulder which has been incorporated in the fabric of the wall. The feature situated below the fort at the SE end of the ridge, which was described in the report as a rock-cut 'gateway', should be entirely discounted. The interior of the fort contains no traces of habitations. RCAHMS 1975, visited 1973.


Field Visit (16 July 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.

Note (3 December 2014 - 18 May 2016)

This small fortification occupies the SE end of a rocky ridge that rises some 25m above the E shore of Loch nan Gabhar. Dropping precipitously on the NE, SE and SW, the only line of approach from the NW is blocked by a single wall that also extends along the cliff-edge on the NE. The wall itself is heavily denuded, comprising little more than a band of rubble from 1m to 3.3m thick with occasional facing-stones marking the line of the outer face. The rocky and featureless interior measures about 45m in length from NW to SE by no more than 12m in breadth (0.04ha). The entrance is midway along the surviving wall and opens onto a slope above the cliff-edge on the N. Excavations in 1908 by Alan Reid identified a concentration of vitrified stone somewhere at the W end (Reid 1909, 36, fig 3), but RCAHMS investigators found only a single piece in the screes at the foot of the slope on the SW, concluding that Reid had overestimated the length of the fort, and thus placing the site of his discovery some 30m outside the wall. Given the crude rendering of his plan, however, this level of sophisticated interpretation may be misplaced, and it is perhaps more likely that the placing of the cross on his plan bears a local relationship to the W end of the fort, thus placing the vitrifaction that he discovered in the wall at this end.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 18 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2603


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