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Lewis, Dun Bhilascleiter

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Building (19th Century), Galleried Dun (Iron Age)(Possible), Promontory Fort (Prehistoric)(Possible)

Site Name Lewis, Dun Bhilascleiter

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Building (19th Century), Galleried Dun (Iron Age)(Possible), Promontory Fort (Prehistoric)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Dun Bilascleiter; Dun Bhilascleittir

Canmore ID 4414

Site Number NB55NE 1

NGR NB 56008 57626

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish Barvas
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NB55NE 1 5602 5762

See also NB55NE 3.

(NB 562 576) Dun Bilascleiter (NAT)

OS 6"map, Ross-shire, 2nd ed., (1898)

Dun Bhilascleiter (NR)

OS 6"map, (1965)

Dun Bhilascleittir (F W L Thomas 1890) or Dun Bhilascleitir (Name Book 1850 - changed to Dun Bilascleiter - after information from Col. J Farquharson and J Mathieson, OS) is a small steep prominent headland, enclosed by a wall 10ft thick and 72ft long (F W L Thomas 1890).

On the summit there is a small oblong ruin, with no part of the walls standing. The stones of which it had been built are large and 'tolerably regular'. (Name Book 1850).

Name Book 1850; F W L Thomas 1890.

Dun Bilascleiter, Promontory Fort, site: 'A modern house, Dun Tower, occupies the site of the rampart, the stones of which were utilised in building the house. There is said to have been a well-built entrance with a guard chamber in the thickness of the rampart on the N side of the gateway.'

RCAHMS 1928, visited 13 July 1914.

There is now no trace of Dun Bhilascleiter, as it is known locally, at NB 5602 5762. The modern house which occupies the site is now derelict.

Visited by OS (R L) 14 June 1969.

Scheduled as Dun Bhilascleitir, promontory fort.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 9 March 1992.

A single unroofed building is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Island of Lewis Ross-shire 1853, sheet 6) and on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1973).

Information from RCAHMS (AKK) 14 January 1996.


Field Visit (13 July 1914)

Promontory Fort, Dun Bilascleiter, Ness.

About 7/8 mile north-west of Cellar Head and 4 ¼ miles south-east of Port of Ness is a narrow promontory with precipitous sides rising more than 150 feet above sea-level, the site of Dun Bilascleiter. It was defended by a rampart of stones erected across the neck of the promontory from cliff to cliff. A modern house, Dun Tower, occupies the site of the rampart, the stones of which were utilised in building the house. There is said to have been a well-built entrance with a guard chamber in the thickness of the rampart on the northside of the gateway.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 13 July 1914.

OS map: Lewis vi.

Publication Account (2007)


NB/5602 5762

This promontory fort, or possible promontory semibroch, has disappeared, the site being covered by the ruins of a recent house. Captain Thomas saw the site before the house was built, on a steep and prominent headland. It appeared to be rectangular but no walling could be seen. Local informants said that a well built entrance passage could once be seen, with a guard cell on its north side [3]. The stones of the fort are said to have been used for the house.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NB 55 NE 1: 2. Thomas 1890, 370: 3. RCAHMS 1928, 11, no. 34.

E W MacKie 2007

Note (29 January 2015 - 18 May 2016)

Little is visible of the defences of a promontory fort reported at Dun Bhilascleiter by Captain F W Thomas. The promontory itself is spectacularly situated, with sheer cliffs dropping away on either side of the neck into deep ravines running in from the sea. A ruined cottage stands squarely across the neck and occupies a slightly raised rib of outcrop. This is also the most likely position for the earlier wall, which is described by Thomas as 22m in length and 3m in thickness (1890, 370); the only feature shown here on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map is a rectangle annotated 'Ruin' (Ross-shire, Isle of Lewis, 1853, sheet 6). In 1914 RCAHMS investigators described the present ruin as a modern house named Dun Tower and, presumably relaying local information, claimed that it had been built of stones taken from the earlier wall, which had had a well-built entrance with a guard chamber on its N side (RCAHMS 1928, 11, no.34). The only possible traces of this wall are a line of at least three and possibly five stones set at a slight angle to the footings of the cottage immediately outside its NE corner. Conceivably these belong to the inner face, while a low rock-face set back from the cliff edge on this side would have provided a convenient terminal for the wall on the N side of an entrance leading into the interior along the S margin of the promontory. Apart from a small outhouse and two earthfast blocks, the interior is featureless; the area on the crest of the promontory measures about 55m from NE to SW by 40m transversely (0.2ha), but below this on the NE the ground falls away in a fairly steep but accessible slope down to the rocks above the sea, extending the overall area of the interior to 0.34ha.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 18 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2769


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