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Islay, Loch Allallaidh

Fortified Island (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Islay, Loch Allallaidh

Classification Fortified Island (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 38042

Site Number NR45NW 2

NGR NR 4194 5799

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Killarow And Kilmeny
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR45NW 2 4194 5799.

(NR 4194 5796) A ringfort, estimated at 40ft diameter, occupies the centre of a round island, surrounded at the water's edge by a wall about 5ft wide. Short stretches of causeway, now broken, appear to have connected this to a smaller island with a pier, from which a short stretch of causeway is aligned with a surviving stretch on the S shore of the loch. The causeway is roughly block built, 5ft to 6ft wide.

D Gillies, A S Newall and F Newall 1968.

A gently rounded island which appears from the shore to be approximately 30.0m NW-SE by 25.0m and 3.0m high. Its edge is consolidated by now fragmentary stretches of wall face up to 1.2m high. Near the centre of the island is a turf-banked enclosure between 7.0m and 9.0m overall with an entrance in the south-east. A now broken 2.5m wide causeway of large stones approaches the island from the north-west.

This island is inaccessible, and its classification cannot be ascertained.

Visited by OS (TRG) 19 June 1978.

These remains are situated on the larger of the two natural islands that lie close to the W shore of Loch Allallaidh, a

remote upland loch at the head of the Kilennan River valley. The island is ovoid on plan, measuring 32m on its longest

axis from NW to SE by 25m transversely. The grassy summit of the island, which stood at a height of just over 3m above water-level at the date of survey, is occupied by the remains of a roughly circular structure some 7m in internal diameter.

The S and E sectors of this structure are defined by a low turf-covered wall which survives to a maximum height of 0.8m and incorporates a 1m-wide entrance in the E sector. Elsewhere the wall has either been wasted or survives as a

revetted bank. A shallow depression close to the SE tip of the island marks the position of a second subcircular structure, and to the NE of it there are smaller elongated depressions of uncertain purpose.

Around the shoreline the island is circumscribed by intermittently visible stretches of a ruinous drystone wall

some 1.8m in ascertainable width. The best-preserved sections offacework are on the S and W shores, where the wall

survives to a maximum height of just over 1m. The wall appears to incorporate small inlets in the w and NE sectors,

and a short extension at the NW end probably represents part of a 2m-wide causeway linking it with corresponding

remains on the shore of the smaller island to the NW. There is, however, no evidence to indicate that any of the bands of stones on the surrounding shores of the loch represents the termination of a further causeway from the smaller of the

two islands. (Gillies, Newall and Newall 1968)

Visited June 1980


NR 4189 5799 Located 53m from the S shore of Loch Allallaidh near the centre of the loch. Another smaller island is located 12m NW of the site, and is accessed from the NW shore of the loch by a 54m long causeway of large boulders, the surface of which was submerged to a depth of 0.4m at the time of survey. The first 26m of this causeway is, on average, 5m in width, but 28m before it reaches the small islet it widens to 15m. The small islet is connected to the artificial island by a ridge of gravel and small stone 12m in length.

The small islet to the NW of the main site is oval, measuring 9m SW-NE by 16m NW-SE at the water line. The islet is composed of small stones, earth and turfs and appears to be natural. The base of the islet is circular, measuring 30m in diameter, and submerged portions are covered by a tumble of medium-sized, angular stones. A tumbled wall of large boulders 34m long transects the islet where it joins the causeway to shore. The walling extends out into the water 10m to the N and 16m to the S of the islet, where water 2m deep is reached.

The main artificial island is an oval mound of stone measuring 47m NW-SE by 32m NE-SW at its base, and 34m NW-SE by 22m NE-SW at the water line. The submerged portions of the islet break at roughly a 7? angle with the surrounding silty loch bed and consist of a tumbled spread of 70% medium-sized stone and 30% large boulders. The surface of the island is crowned by a steep-sided, turf-covered, oval platform measuring 16m NW-SE by 7.5m NE-SW, which was 2.3m above water level at the time of survey. The NW end of this platform is occupied by the turf-covered remains of a roughly circular structure, measuring 7.4m NW-SE by 6.4m NE-SW internally, with walls 1.8m in average thickness and 0.8m in average height. There is no obvious entrance to the structure.

The base of the upper platform corresponded roughly with the water level at the time of survey and is enclosed by a drystone perimeter wall. This wall is roughly 1.5m in average thickness and consists of an outer vertical face of angular, medium-sized stones which sit on footings of large boulders, that is backed by turfs and stone tumble. On the SW and SE sides of the islet this wall still stands to a maximum height of 1.5m, and though less well preserved, other portions of the walling can be traced around the entirety of the islet perimeter. The W sector of the walling is breached by a 1.7m gap, which is interpreted as a boat noost. This feature is a 0.5m deep depression in the islet surface which runs through the perimeter wall, past the water line to the base of the islet.

Sponsors: Edinburgh University Archaeology Department, Holley & Associates.

M W Holley 1996


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