Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2154: Islay, Dun Guaidhre  

(Dun Guaire; Kilmeny)

Sources: Esri, DigitalGlobe, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, GeoEye, USDA FSA, USGS, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, and the GIS User Community

HER:  The West of Scotland Archaeology Service 2345

NMR:  NR 36 SE 9 (37745)

SM:  3932

NGR:  NR 3892 6483

X:  138920  Y:  664830  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This is an unusual fort in islay and Argyll, not for its position on a ridge with a rock crag forming the SE flank, but for its use of ditches in the defences, which rise in four tiers to a relatively small enclosure crowning the summit (see also Atlas No. 2154). The latter measures 34m from NE to SW by 17m transversely (0.04ha) within a rampart reduced to an external scarp dropping down to a point where what may be occasional outer facing-stones can be observed. The slope below this has probably been scarped also, partly to provide material for the first of the outer ramparts, now reduced to a terrace, which is also accompanied by an external ditch some 3m below its crest. Set a short distance outside this ditch is yet another rampart, in this case still standing 1m high internally on the SW and dropping 3.2m into the bottom of an external ditch with a counterscarp bank, which survives only around the SW quarter. While at first sight the crag on the SE appears largely natural, close inspection suggests that it has been extensively modified, in effect to carry the outer ditch around this flank. The entrance to the fort climbs along the crest of the crag on the NE. The defences are overlain by later field banks on the NE, S and W, which may be contemporary with the small rectangular enclosure that can be seen within the interior.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  There is a possibility that this is an undocumented medieval castle, standing close by the old parish church of Kilmeny.

Location

X:  -686638  Y:  7519895  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -6.168172  Latitude:  55.806016  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Argyll & Bute

Historic County:   Argyll

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Killarow And Kilmeny

Condition

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Woodland:  
Commercial Forestry Plantation:  
Parkland:  
Pasture (Grazing):  
Arable:  
Scrub/Bracken:  
Bare Outcrop:  
Heather/Moorland:  
Heath:  
Built-up:  
Coastal Grassland:  
Other:  

Landscape

Hillfort Type

Contour Fort:  
Partial Contour Fort:  
Promontory Fort:  
Hillslope Fort:  
Level Terrain Fort:  
Marsh Fort:  
Multiple Enclosure Fort:  

Topographic Position

Hilltop:  
Coastal Promontory:  
Inland Promontory:  
Valley Bottom:  
Knoll/Hillock/Outcrop:  
Ridge:  
Cliff/Plateau-edge/Scarp:  
Hillslope:  
Lowland:  
Spur:  

Dominant Topographic Feature:  

Aspect

North:  
Northeast:  
East:  
Southeast:  
South:  
Southwest:  
West:  
Northwest:  
Level:  

Elevation

Altitude:  90.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

While this is traditionally identified as a prehistoric fort, the use of ditches and scarping may indicate that most of what is visible belongs to an undocumented castle, a possibility strengthened by the proximity of the parish church of Kilmeny. The topographical position is such, however, that it is likely to have been utilised whenever the need arose in the Iron Age or early medieval period.In the absence of excavation, there are neither stratified artefacts nor radiocarbon dates to provide a chronology for the defences.

Reliability:  D - None

Pre 1200BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
400BC - AD50:  
AD50 - AD400:  
AD400 - AD 800:  
Post AD800:  
Unknown:  

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  A later rectangular enclosure standing within the interior is possibly contemporary with the post-medieval field banks that overlie the defences on the W, S, SE and NE

None:  No details.

Investigations

First depicted on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Argyll and Bute 1882, sheet 198.13), it was visited in 1934 by Gordon Childe (Childe 1935, 83) and seems to have revisited the site in 1942 for the RCAHMS wartime Emergency Surveys. It was visited by RCAHMS in 1975 and surveyed in 1979 during the preparation of the County Inventory of Argyll (RCAHMS 1984, 94-5, no.157). The earthworks were Scheduled in 1977. It was photographed from the air by RCAHMS in 1980, and has also been photographed by CUCAP.

1st Identified Map Depiction (1878):  Named in Gothic type on the OS 25-inch map (Argyll and Bute 1882, sheet 198.13)
Other (1934):  Description by Gordon Childe (Childe 1935, 83)
Other (1942):  Description by Angus Graham and Gordon Childe for the RCAHMS wartime Emergency Surveys
Other (1975):  Visited by RCAHMS
Other (1977):  Scheduled
Earthwork Survey (1979):  Plan and description (RCAHMS 1984, 94-5, no.157; RCAHMS DC153-4)
Other (2007):  Visited by the Hill-Fort Study Group

Interior Features

Featureless apart from what is probably a later rectangular enclosure

Water Source

None:  
Spring:  
Stream:  
Pool:  
Flush:  
Well:  
Other:  

Surface

Rectangular enclosure

No Known Features:  
Round Stone Structures:  
Rectangular Stone Structures:  
Curvilinear Platforms:  
Other Roundhouse Evidence:  
Pits:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  

Excavation

No Known Excavation:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Geophysics

No Known Geophysics:  
Pits:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Finds

No Known Finds:  
Pottery:  
Metal:  
Metalworking:  
Human Bones:  
Animal Bones:  
Lithics:  
Environmental:  
Other:  

Aerial

Rectangular enclosure

APs Not Checked:  
None:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Other:  

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  1:  Single entrance elaborated in three entries below

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  In all ramparts
Entrance 2 (Northeast):  Oblique:  Gap in outermost rampart staggered to the W, exposing the visitor's right side below the middle rampart

Enclosing Works

Three concentric ramparts and ditches, the outer accompanied by a counterscarp bank, and the inner encircling the summit

Enclosed Area 1:  0.04ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.0ha.

Total Footprint Area:  0.47ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  3

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  3

Current Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  
Unknown:  

Multi-period Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:  
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  

Surface Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Rubble:  
Wall-walk:  
Evidence of Timber:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
Other:  

Excavated Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Murus Duplex:  
Timber-framed:  
Timber-laced:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
No Known Excavation:  
Other:  

Gang Working

Gang Working:  ✗ 

Ditches

Ditches:  

Number of Ditches:  2

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Childe, V G (1935) 'Notes on some duns in Islay'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 69 (1934-5), 81-4

RCAHMS (1984) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 5: Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay. HMSO: Edinburgh

Terms of Use

The online version of the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland should be cited as:

Lock, G. and Ralston, I. 2017.  Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk.

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