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Dun Canna

Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Dun Canna

Classification Fort (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 4530

Site Number NC10SW 1

NGR NC 1116 0080

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Lochbroom
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NC10SW 1 1116 0080

(NC 116 0080) Dun Canna (NAT)

Fort (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1971)

The fort of Dun Canna is situated on a promontory, the cliffs along the sides rising to 40' above high water mark. The promontory is connected to the mainland, on which there is an annexe, by a neck of land 37' wide.

The fort is roughly rectangular and measures 140' x 30' within a single massive dry-stone wall of which the debris varies from 10 to 18' thick. The NW side has almost completely disappeared and the entrance was presumably at a gap 6'6" wide in the NE end. There are no signs of any structures in the interior.

The annexe, of irregular shape, measures c. 140' x 95', within a single massive dry-stone wall that in part at least was 12' - 14' thick. In this area the debris of the wall is 40' thick and rises to a height of 12' above the interior. A narrow gap in the NE corner, opposite the foundations of a late cottage, is obviously intrusive, and the original entrance is situated in a re-entrant angle of the wall in the N side at the head of an easy approach. In the exposed wall face, on the S side of the entrance, there is a rebate resembling the check of a door. There may have been a wall between the annexe and the neck of land, with a narrow gap for entrance, but the N side of the neck was defended by a wall while the S side may have been similarly defended. The interior of the annexe is featureless.

C Calder and K Steer 1951.

'Dun Canna' - A fort generally as described and planned by Calder and Steer (C Calder and K Steer 1951). The westerly enclosure measures 43.0m by 13.0m within a partly overgrown wall reduced by quarrying and slip on the NW to a thin scatter of debris. Elsewhere, although no facing stones are visible, the spread of rubble would suggest a wall thickness of between 3.0m and 5.0m. The entrance planned by Calder and Steer (C Calder and K Steer 1951) is suspect. Here the tumbled wall is overgrown by a band of turf and there is no hollow through it as one might expect. The entrance, however, is not evident elsewhere.

The annexe wall also has almost been destroyed by slip and quarrying on the NW. Elsewhere the massive band of rubble (up to 10.0m wide) suggests a wall of greater proportions than that of the westerly enclosure, but, although it may have been higher, it seems to have been of the same thickness. The outer and inner faces are frequently visible in the rubble (the inner face to a height of 1.2m) giving a wall thickness in the NE of 2.8m, increasing to 4.3m half-way along the E side and then decreasing again to 3.5m at the SE corner. This increase in thickness is due to the wall crossing a hollow where its extra height would demand a more solid base. There is no trace of the rebate in the S side of the entrance seen by Calder and Steer (C Calder and K Steer 1951).

The better state of preservation of the annexe wall compared to the wall of the W enclosure suggests it may be later.

Revised at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (J M), 10 July 1974.

C Calder and K Steer 1951.


Measured Survey (October 1947)

Following the report of an unrecorded vitrified fort at Dun Lagaidh, Ullapool, in October 1947 Kenneth Steer and Charles Calder, RCAHMS, surveyed the site, together with a number of monuments in the vicinity.

Source: C S T Calder and K A Steer 1951

Publication Account (1995)

This stone-walled fort is built on a promontory projecting into the sea at the north end of a long sandy beach, and the walls for the most part follow the high rocky cliffs of the promontory. There are two enclosures, both defended by thick stone walls now badly collapsed. The inner enclosure at the end of the promontory is long and narrow, and the outer enclosure is larger and has a thicker wall. Parts of the original wall-faces may be distinguished amid the mass of tumble.

The modern path across the outer wall passes the ruin of a recent stone house built into the fallen wall. This is not the line of the original entrance,which was on the steep northeast side of the promontory where the ends of the wall overlapped to form a short entrance passage, now overgrown with heather. This would have been provided with wooden gates. The approach to the entrance was thus along the side of the hill, where it would have been more difficult to rush the gate. The position of the entrance to the inner enclosure is unknown.

Back near Blughasary, on the south side of the River Runie and some 100m west of the bridge is a small mill of the 18th or 19th century AD, with the two millsrones still lying in the ruins.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).


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