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Barra, Dun Ban

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Promontory Fort (Prehistoric)

Site Name Barra, Dun Ban

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Promontory Fort (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Dun Bahn; Ben Tangaval

Canmore ID 9742

Site Number NF60SW 4

NGR NF 6311 0037

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. 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

NF60SW 4 6311 0037.

(NF 6311 0037) Dun Ban (NR)

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904)

'Dun Ban' the remains of a broch on a rocky promontory. Its internal diameter is 25ft and the wall is up to 12ft thick. A wall of large irregular blocks runs across the neck of the peninsula, with an entrance near the NE end. There are slight buildings within the court, and a substantial one against the wall.

RCAHMS 1928.

'Dun Bahn' - A promontory site defended by an outer wall, with traces of an entrance through it and slight footings of a sub-circular building within the space enclosed. Surface finds of pottery equate with material from Dun Cuier (A Young 1958) (4th to 7th c. AD - NF60SE 1). Classified as a dun.

A Young 1958; A Young 1964.

Generally as previously described. This dun or broch is sub-circular, with a diameter of c 18.0m over walls c 4.0m thick. The outer wall-face has been exposed on the east side to a height of 1.2m: elsewhere it is only traceable by a few facing stones. The inner wall face is obscured by debris. There are traces of a possible entrance in the middle of the east side and to the south of this, within the wall thickness, are the outlines of a small oval chamber c 2.5m by 1.5m.

The wall across the promontory is best preserved to the SE of the dun, to a maximum height of 1.0m.

No trace of any buildings was seen in the area described by the RCAHMS (RCAHMS 1928) although any foundations are probably buried under the tumble of bare stones extending from the SE side of the structure to the wall.

Surveyed at 1/10,560 and 1/2500.

Visited by OS (W D J) 17 May 1965.

T226. Generally as described; heavily grassed over.

K Branigan and P Foster 1995; NMRS MS/595/6.

Scheduled as Dun Ban, promontory fort and broch, Barra... the remains of a promontory fortification, within which is a ruined broch, both dating to the middle or late Iron Age (c.200BC to c.600AD). The site is to be found in rough grazings on the coast to the N of Ben Tangaval.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 13 September 2005.


Field Visit (8 June 1915)

Dun Ban.

The ruins of Dun Ban occupy a small rocky promontory jutting out into the Atlantic, on the western side of the island of Barra, about ¾ mile west of Halaman Bay, near Tangusdale. The coast here is rocky and rugged and the site is one of the wildest and most desolate in the island. The rock rises about 40 feet above the water; on either side is a rocky gully, while it is cut off from the bare hillside behind, to the south, by a hollow walled by a rocky bluff, about 12 feet high, on the side next the dun. The fort consists of a circular building erected on the highest point of the peninsula, with an outer wall erected on the top of the bluff on the landward side, some 66 feet distant. So much of the main building has been removed, and so badly disturbed are the remaining portions, that it is impossible to state definitely what was its character. On the southern side it has been cleared away, and on the remaining portions nothing remains but dislodged stones, 4 to 5 feet deep, covering a space 12 feet wide in places. The outer foundation course can be detected in parts, and the external diameter from north to south is some 60 feet. It is not improbable that the building was a broch.

The outer wall is also in a very ruinous condition, and behind it is a great mass of tumbled blocks of stone. No trace of the entrance in either the main building or outer defence can be seen.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 8 June 1915.

OS map: Barra lxiv.

Publication Account (2007)

NF60 2 DUN BAN 2

NF/6311 0037

This probable broch in Barra, Outer Hebrides, stands on a rocky promontory 12.2m (40 ft) high on the west side of the island; the adjacent coast is rocky, wild and desolate. A sub-circular building can be traced on the summit with an overall diameter of about 18.0m and a wall about 4.0m thick. The outer face is visible on the east side to a height of 1.2m, and there are traces of a possible entrance on the east side with indications of a small intra-mural oval chamber south of this. There is an outer wall on the landward side some 20m from the broch. It is reported that some late Iron Age pottery, like that found at Dun Cuier (NF60 3), was picked up on the site [3].

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NF 60 SW 4: 2. RCAHMS 1928, 131, no. 446: 3. Young 1962, 193 and pl. XXVIII: 4. Young 1956, 293: 5. Branigan and Foster 2002, 84.

E W MacKie 2007

Note (27 January 2015 - 1 November 2016)

This fortification occupies a promontory on the NW coast of the Tangaval peninsular, which forms the SW extremity of Barra. The promontory is girt with cliffs up to 12m high, dropping sheer into the sea on the SW, while the outcrops on the seaward side of hollow cutting from E to W across its neck provide a natural line line of defence which has been exploited by a single wall. In places the wall stands 1m high and a gap at its E end is probably the entrance. The rocky interior is rough and uneven, and measures about 120m from NW to SE by a maximum of 65m transversely (0.5ha), though about a third of this area at the seaward end is exposed bedrock. The only feature visible within the interior is the tumbled ruin of a broch occupying the summit; measuring about 18m in diameter over a wall 4m in thickness and up to 1.2m in height, it has a possible entrance on the E.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 01 November 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2757


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