Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2448: Dun Mhuirich  

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HER:  The West of Scotland Archaeology Service 3713

NMR:  NR 78 SW 3 (39122)

SM:  238

NGR:  NR 7228 8441

X:  172280  Y:  684410  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This complex fortification has a long history of occupation, the latter stages of which have been shown by excavation to span the medieval and post-medieval periods (WoSAS Event ID: 4947; Kilmartin House Data Structure Report). At its core, however, there is an oval dun which shows evidence of reconstruction and is overlain by two rectangular buildings, surrounded by a series of more extensive defensive enclosures. In its latest form the dun measures about 15.5m by 12m within a well-preserved wall about 2.8m in thickness, and there is an entrance protected by an outer hornwork on the SSW. The wall of the rectilinear outer enclosure may have sprung from the dun on the E and can be traced around the lip of the steep and precipitous flanks of the hillock, probably returning to the the foot of the outcrops below the dun wall on the S and enclosing an area measuring about 48m from NE to SW by a maximum of 28m transversely (0.12ha) at the NE end, where there is also a well-preserved entrance; the wall varies between 1.5m and 3m in thickness, with well-preserved runs of outer face, and the entrance is 1.75m wide and the length of the passage has been increased to 2.7m by the addition of two external buttresses. An additional wall springing from the W angle of this enclosure takes in a lower terrace at the SW, while other fragments of walls may be seen on the S, NW and NE. While the outer enclosure has been thought to be an addition to the dun, the superficial resemblance to a nuclear fort has lead to its inclusion here

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  Normally regarded as a dun with outworks, but has the same characteristics as so-called nuclear forts

Location

X:  -629351  Y:  7558109  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -5.65356  Latitude:  55.998462  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Argyll & Bute

Historic County:   Argyll

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  North Knapdale

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:  15.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

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:  ✓  Overlain by medieval and post-medieval buildings

None:  No details.

Investigations

1st Identified Map Depiction (1869):  Annotated Fort on 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Argyll and Bute 1873, sheet 169)
Other (1898):  Photograph by Erskine Beveridge (RCAHMS AG12132PO)
Other (1955):  Scheduled
Other (1957):  Visited by RCAHMS
Earthwork Survey (1959):  Plan (RCAHMS DC13412-13)
Other (1963):  Description sometime 1954-63 (Campbell and Sandeman 1962, 50-1)
Other (1973):  Visited by OS
Other (1977):  Surveyed 1:10,000 by the OS
Earthwork Survey (1982):  Plan and description (RCAHMS 1988, 189-90, no.311; RCAHMS DC13414-15)
Excavation (2012):  Evaluation Kilmartin House Museum (Regan, R; WoSAS Event ID: 4947 )

Interior Features

Featureless apart from later rectangular buildings

Water Source

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

Surface

Later rectangular building overlying the dun

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

NO APPARENT FEATURES

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

Entrances

See main summary

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  1:  several robbed gaps elsewhere

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  1:  Excludes the internal dun

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  Passage through wall extended by later external buttresses

Enclosing Works

Inner dun and an outer enclosure with additional fragments of other walls

Enclosed Area 1:  0.12ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.1ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  The outer enclosure has been taken here to represent the main fort, but given the analogy with nuclear forts the numbers of ramparts include the central dun

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  

Number of Ramparts:  3

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  2

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:  

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Campbell and Sandeman, M and M (1962) 'Mid Argyll: an archaeological survey', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 95 (1961-2), 1-125

RCAHMS (1988) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, prehistoric and early historic monuments. 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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