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Barra, Eoligarry, Dun Scurrival

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Dun (Prehistoric)

Site Name Barra, Eoligarry, Dun Scurrival

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Dun (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Dun Sgurabhal

Canmore ID 9705

Site Number NF60NE 3

NGR NF 6954 0810

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish Barra
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NF60NE 3 6954 0810

(NF 6954 0810) Dun Scurrival (OE)

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1903).

Classified as a dun by Young (A Young 1958), who described it as sub-circular with estimated internal measurements 50ft by 39ft; its walling built up (it was torn down when visited earlier by the RCAHMS), with galleries apparent, and having an extra outer wall traceable on its north side, and the boulder footings of another across the neck of the promontory on which it stands. In 1947 Scott called the latter wall 'impressive' and noted 'accessory buildings' on a terrace between it and the dun; also a curtain wall along a ramped ascent which slopes up to and across the terrace to enter the broch (sic) at the NE.

Pottery sherds and one artifacts from the site have been equated with finds from Dun Cuier (A Young 1958) (4th-7th c. AD - NF60SE 1 ) and Tebbutt notes a shell-midden with pottery (unspecified) inside and outside the walls.

RCAHMS 1928; L Scott 1947; A Young 1958; Information from C F Tebbutt, 1959; A Young 1964.

Dun Scurrival, a galleried dun, is generally as described by previous authorities. It survives to a maximum height of 2.6m in the E. The interior is obscured by tumble but two courses of the inner face, topped by a scarcement, can be seen on the west side, and a small circular structure, 3.6m in diameter, has been built against the inner wall in the NE sector.

The outer curtain wall, noted by Scott and Young, is visible as a grass-grown stony bank, 0.8m high, incorporating naturaly rock outcrop, and runs from the west end of the dun along its N edge for about 26.0m. The wall on the east side, running across the neck of the promontory, is much obscured by debris and is scarcely traceable. The 'accessory buildings' are no longer visible.

Immediately south of the dun there are the footings of several oval and circular shielings constructed from the tumble, and in the area to the

S and E of these there are lazy beds.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (R B), 26 May 1965.

Iron Age sherds and a fragment of a polished stone axe from Dun Scurrival were donated to the NMAS in 1977-8 by Miss M Harman, Ewhurst, Sussex.

Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1980.

E16: Roughly triangular in shape, about 21 by 14m; walls 1.5m high.

NMRS, MS/595/10.


Field Visit (9 June 1915)

Dun Scurrival, Eoligarry.

Dun Scurrival occupies the summit of a small hill on the west coast of Barra near its most northerly point, about 5/8 mile west-north-west of Eoligarry House. The hill rises to a height of 100 feet above sea-level in a sharp rocky ascent from the shore on the west, while on the east the slope though more gradual is still steep. The dun, like the other fortified buildings in Barra, is greatly dilapidated. Pear-shaped on plan, with apex to the west, it measures internally some 52 feet from east to west, and some 39 feet from north to south. The outer part of the wall has been torn down, leaving only an occasional foundation-stone in position, and on the inside it rises at most some 3 feet above the debris. The entrance is indistinguishable, but seems to have been in the east end. Small portions of the inner face of the inner wall of a gallery within the body of the wall survive on the west-south-west and north-east. At the latter place the wall is 14 feet 6 inches thick, the inner wall of the gallery being 4 feet thick. The entrance to this gallery can be traced, varying in width from 2 feet to 2 feet 4 inches towards the interior of the wall. At the western end of the dun there seems to be a scarcement 6 inches wide on the inner face of the wall. But the condition of the structure makes all statements as to detail doubtful.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 9 June 1915.

OS map: Barra lxii.

Field Visit (1991 - 1994)

E16: Roughly triangular in shape, about 21 by 14m; walls 1.5m high.

NMRS, MS/595/10.

Oval stone-walled structure, 24 x 16m overall, with internal area measuring 13 x 8m. Masses of fallen masonry on slopes around the structure and inside the wall. The wall structure is partly visible at the NW and W, and appears to comprise a thick outer wall, an irregular but narrow gallery, and a narrow inner wall. The outer wall is 2.5 - 3.5m wide, the gallery 0.5 - 1m, and the inner wall about 1m wide. There are suggestions of an entrance at the east end of the structure. A trench has been dug at some time in the past towards the east end of the internal area and revealed remains of a wall three courses high, which must belong to a structural feature within the central 'courtyard' . The NMS has a collection of c.70 sherds, flints, a bone pin and bone bobbin from the site.


Branigan and Grattan

Coastal Zone Assessment Survey, 1998

Publication Account (2007)


NF/6954 0810

This probable broch (perhaps ground-galleried) or 'galleried dun' near Eoligarry in Barra stands on the summit of a small hill about 30.1m (100 ft) high on the west coast of the island. There are traces of the boulder foundation of an “impressive” outer wall crossing the neck of the promontory [3]

The dilapidated main structure is pear-shaped in plan with the apex to the west and the inner wallface gives internal measurements of about 15.9m (52 ft) east-west and 11.9m (39 ft) north-south; the outer wallface has been mostly destroyed. There are traces of an intra-mural gallery on the west-south-west and on the north-east. At the latter place the wall is 4.42m (14 ft 6 in) thick, and the inner wall of the gallery is 1.22m (4 ft) thick. A doorway from the gallery to the interior can be seen and the passage is 0.61 - 0.71m (2 ft - 2 ft 4 in) wide. A possible scarcement was seen at the west end but dilapidation prevented positive identification [2]; however a later report confirms it [1].

Finds: Iron Age sherds and a fragment of a polished stone axe from the site were presented to the National Museums in 1977 [6], and other pottery and bone artifacts were described by Young [4, 291 and fig. 2]. Two of the rim sherds among the latter are similar to the pottery from Dun Cuier (NF60 5) so a late Iron Age occupation of Dun Scurrival seems indicated. Whether the structure was built then is unknown but the presence of a MIA wheelhouse on the island (below) suggests that it is probably older.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NF 60 NE 3: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 132, no. 449: 3. Scott 1947, 3: 4. Young 1956: 5. Young 1962, 193: 6. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 109 (1977-78), 381, no. 20 (donations): 7. Branigan and Foster 2002, 152: 8. Armit 1997, 268: 9. Sharples and Parker Pearson 1997, 256: 10. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1984, 44 (sherds).

E W MacKie 2007


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