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Islay, Dun An Rubha Bhuidhe

Dun (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Islay, Dun An Rubha Bhuidhe

Classification Dun (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Dun An Rudha Bhuide; Claggain Bay; Ardtalla

Canmore ID 38084

Site Number NR45SE 6

NGR NR 4661 5407

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kildalton And Oa
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR45SE 6 4661 5407

(NR 4661 5407) Dun an Rudha Bhuidhe (NR)

OS 6" map, Argyllshire, 2nd ed., (1900)

Dun an Rubha Buidhe [NR]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1981.

Manuscript annotation on RCAHMS working map indicates 'Slight trace of ?rectangular building within, but no extensive later occupation. much tumble'.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (ONB 1878) notes the remains of a small circular feature, in the NE corner.

Name Book 1878.

(East coast). Dun at Rudha Bhuidhe (North of Claggain Bay, 1.1 mile [1.7km] S of Dun nan Gall [NR45NE 1], but not visible therefrom. A triangular promontory, rising 10ft [3m] from the water and about 45ft [13.7m] long, with a cove on the S side and a sandy bay to [the] N, cut off by a double stone wall, quite unmeasurable. Behind, the ground rises steeply to the 50ft [15.3m] contour.

This dun is one of those 'admirably suited to be pirates' strongholds, with coves hidden in chasms of the rock where coracles might shelter.' It is also noteworthy for being one of those that are 'overlooked by high ground immediately in their rear.'

(This is one of the five duns that are noted in 3½ miles [5.6km] of coast between the E spur of Beinn Bheigeir and the SE corner of the island).

V G Childe 1935, no. 3.

This dun occupies Rubha Buidhe, the low rocky promontory that forms the N end of Claggain Bay 450m S of Ardtalla. The promontory rises no more than 5.4m above high-water mark, and access is easy from all directions except the SE, where the rock rises relatively steeply. The choice of a position of little natural defensive strength is unusual, especially since there is a convenient rocky hillock only 200m to the SW.

The dun's defences are comparable to those of the two promontory forts (Dun nan Gall and Trudernish Point, RCAHMS 1984, Nos. 156 and 168), situated 1.7 km to the N and 1.5 km to the S respectively, in comprising three walls, of which the innermost incorporates patches of vitrifaction.

The innermost wall (A on RCAHMS 1984 plan) has been severely disturbed, appearing as a heavy band of rubble. Apart from one short stretch of the outer face, no facing-stones are exposed, but the amount of core material, up to 1.4m high, and the scree-like spread of tumbled debris outside it suggest that the wall was between 3m and 4m thick. Small lumps of vitrified stone can be seen in it. The entrance faces NW, and part of the sw side of the passage is visible. Much of the limited area cut off by wall A is now taken up by two large, roughly circular, accumulations of stones, of unknown origin or function, but there can be little doubt that they are not contemporary with the dun.

The middle wall (B on RCAHMS 1984 plan) probably measured 2.4m in average thickness the outer face surviving at best to a height of 0.9m in two courses. The entrance appears to have been at the N end, where there is a 3m gap, now blocked by modern walling.

Wall C, l-3m in average thickness, has been for the most part reduced to the intermittent series of substantial boulders

with which it was faced; the remains now terminate abruptly before reaching the edge of the promontory at each end. The position of the entrance is not clear.

Along the N edge of the promontory, four separate lengths of relatively modern walling extend across gaps in the natural rock.

The extensive beach immediately to the NE offers a good landing-place; a small, stone-lined boat-noost immediately to the SW is of comparatively recent origin.

RCAHMS 1984, visited May 1977.

'Dun an Rudha Bhuidhe': A dun on Rudha Buidhe a coastal promontory. It comprises three walls drawn across the neck of the promontory defending a citadel area some 18.0m E-W, by 16.0m on the highest ground. The seaward sides on the north and east offer easy access but there is no trace of walling;

the south is protected by low cliff on the high water line. The main wall, on the height of the promontory, is a tumbled mass of stone up to 1.4m high. No facing stones are exposed, but the true wall width would have been between 3.0m and 4.0m. The entrance position is probably in the north-west. There is some burnt stone in the wall core towards the north. The middle wall, an estimated 2.5m broad, stands to 0.9m maximum height and has an outer face traceable for about 15.0m. There is no sign of an entrance in this wall and passage was most likely round its north end and through a natural gap in the rocks now sealed by an early modern wall. The outermost wall is reduced to a band of rubble core and intermittent outer-facing boulders; a central gap, 5.0m broad may be an entrance. In the enceinte is an appreciable amount of bare stone, a concentration of which, in the south half may have been a navigation cairn.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (JM) 15 March 1979.


Field Visit (23 May 1934 - 25 May 1935)

Dun at Rudha Bhuidhe (north of Claggain Bay), 1.1 mile, south of Carraig Mor, but not visible therefrom. A triangular promontory, rising 10 feet or so from the water and about 45 feet long with a cove on the south side and a sandy bay to the north, cut off by a double stone wall, quite unmeasurable. Behind, the ground rises steeply to the 50-foot contour.

V G Childe 1935

Note (6 October 2014 - 23 May 2016)

This small promontory work is situated on a low promontory 450m S of Ardtalla. The promontory itself has few defensive qualities, but access from the landward side on the W quarter is blocked by no less than three wall, the inner of which forms a thick band of rubble up to 1.4m high and has small patches of vitrifaction visible in it. The middle wall is about 2.4m in thickness and has long runs of its outer face visible, in places still standing 0.9m high in two courses, while the outer is not only more fragmentary but only measures 1.3m in thickness. Access to the entrance passage through the inner wall, one side of which is exposed on the NW, was probably gained through a gap in the outcrops that separates the inner and middle walls on the N and is now blocked by a modern drystone dyke. The interior measures no more than 16m from NNE to SSW by 11m transversely (0.02ha) and is largely obscured by two piles of stones.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 23 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2174


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