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Dun A' Choin Duibh

Dun (Prehistoric)

Site Name Dun A' Choin Duibh

Classification Dun (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Dun A' Choin Dhuibh

Canmore ID 39349

Site Number NR86SW 4

NGR NR 8043 6407

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish South Knapdale
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll


Field Visit (20 September 1942)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Emergency Survey (1942-3), an unpublished rescue project.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.

Desk Based Assessment (29 September 1972)

Dun a' Choin Dhuibh. This dun occupies the summit of an isolated crag. It measures 45' N-S by 40' within a c.10' thick wall, built with a heavy batter, and still standing 8' high on W. The SE quadrant of wall has fallen outward. There are two entrances, one, with signs of a door check, in the NE, and the other, Z-shaped, in the W. The rest of the summit and a shoulder 10' below it is protected by a built rampart.

It is more roughly built than the dun, and as at least one stone of the latter rests on stones apparently belonging to the core of the rampart, this may pre-date the dun. On the shoulder, three small rings of boulders were observed c.1912, abutting against the outer rampart. One was dug into and much iron slag recovered. If the outer wall then exposed was really the inner face of the rampart, then the latter was 7'6" thick, but this is not quite certain.

Bloomed iron, found in 1959, is at Kilberry, and a medieval quern stone lies in situ, by the flagpole in the centre of the dun.

Information from OS (IF) 29 September 1972

V G Childe and A Graham 1943; M Campbell and M Sandeman 1964

Field Visit (28 June 1973)

A dun generally as described and planned. The Z-shaped entrance is still lintelled for half its length, but has collapsed near the inner face. An upright slab in the outwork wall on the N probably indicates an entrance. Without excavation it is not possible to determine whether the site is of two constructional phases. The quern stone survives.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (DWR) 28 June 1973

Field Visit (8 March 1977)

No change to the report above.

Surveyed at 1/10,000.

Visited by OS (BS) 8 March 1977

Field Visit (April 1984)

Field Visit (April 1984)

This dun is situated on a hill 880m WSW of Torinturk overlooking West Loch Tarbert from the N (Campbell and Sandeman 1964). It occupies the NE part of the summit, while the SW portion and a lower terrace to the NW are enclosed by outworks.

The dun wall, which survives up to 2m in height in five courses, is about 3.25m thick and encloses an area some 13m in diameter; built of large blocks, it rises with a pronounced batter on both faces. The outer face, founded well below the level of the summit on the SE, can be traced for much of its length, although the inner face is less well preserved and is partly concealed by fallen masonry. projecting from the inner face on the NW and S, just above the present level of the interior, there are a number of slabs forming a scarcement-like strcture, which measures between 0.33m and 0.45m in width. Traces of a rough medial face can be seen at various points within the thickness of the wall, and on the S, where the walling is low, a short stretch of what may be an intramural passage, with one lintel still in place, is also visible.

The entrance is on the N. At its inner end the passage is about 1m wide, and at the outer end the corner-stone on the W side is set back nearly 1m inside the line of its counterpart at the E corner. The E side-wall is checked for a door 1.5m from its outer end, and there are traces of a bar-hole just behind it. A gap in the same side-wall a short distance inwards has probably been caused by collapse.

On the W the outer face of the dun wall is interrupted by an opening 0.8m wide and 0.95m high, which is spanned by a massive triangular lintel. The opening gives access to a passage, partly lintelled and partly corbelled, which descends and turns sharply as it leads into the thickness of the wall. The inner portion of the passage is blocked with stones, and without excavation it is not possible to establish whether or not it connects with the adjacent gap in the inner face of the dun wall; that the feature may have been an unusual kind of postern is not impossible.

The principal outer wall springs from the dun wall on the S and ends at the foot of the summit knoll on the N. The outer face stands up to 2m high in nine courses, and the thickness of the wall varies between 3m and 4m; the core material consists of smaller stones than those found in the dun wall, and much use was made of rock outcrops. The entrance is at its N end. On the SW there are intermittent remains of a second remains of a second outwork enclosing a lower terrace. There is no evidence to support the suggestion that the dun was built later than the principal outwork (Childe and Graham 1943).

There are several secondary structures built over or against the outworks, and it is recorded (Campbell and Sandeman 1964) that iron slag was recovered from one of them early in the 20th century. A quern-stone, perhaps of medieval date, was noted within the interior of the dun on the date of visit.

Visited April 1984


Ground Survey (24 October 2012 - 26 October 2012)

NR 8043 6407 A topographic and laser scan survey of Dun a’ Choin Duibh was undertaken on 24–26 October 2011, and plans and elevations produced. Several of the features reported by previous surveyors are no longer visible, including architectural details of the N entrance, and the possible median wall face of the central dun. The current survey suggested that the site is multi-phase, with the central circular dun (the SE quadrant now lost to collapse) overlying the earlier dun enclosure on the hilltop.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Forestry Commission Scotland

AOC Archaeology Group 2011

Information from Oasis (aocarcha1-122683)

Field Visit (24 October 2012 - 25 October 2012)

NR 8043 6407 and NR 7811 9130 A survey was carried out 24–25 October 2012 on two duns in Argyll. Detailed plans and elevations were produced and laser scanning was used to produce 3D models of the sites.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: Forestry Commission Scotland

Graeme Cavers, AOC Archaeology Group



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