Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2772: Lewis, Port of Ness, Dun Eistean  

(Tigh Nan Arm)

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HER:  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - Western Isles Sites and Monuments Record MWE4417

NMR:  NB 56 NW 1 (4417)

SM:  5356

NGR:  NB 5355 6501

X:  153550  Y:  965010  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

Dun Eistean is a cliff-girt rock stack cut off from the mainland by a precipitous sea-swept ravine, and has only recently become accessible via a footbridge. An area measuring about 90m from E to W by up to 60m transversely (0.48ha) is enclosed by a grass-grown bank, which has been shown by excavation to be the remains of a stone-faced turf rampart (Barrowman 2002), extending along the S margin of the stack above the ravine and returning at either end. Remains of a series of buildings can be seen within the interior, one of which is the stump of a tower (Barrowman 2001; 2005). Traditionally a stronghold associated with the Morrisons since the 16th century, the excavations have also demonstrated earlier medieval phases, but though it has often been assumed a likely site for a prehistoric predecessor (eg the Scheduling document), there is no evidence that this was the case.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Irreconciled issues:  Post-medieval stronghold

Location

X:  -693777  Y:  8073825  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -6.232307  Latitude:  58.503432  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Western Isles

Historic County:   Ross-shire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Barvas

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:  20.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

Medieval to post-medieval

Reliability:  B - Medium

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

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  If there is an earlier fortification here it is overlain by the later stronghold

Artefactual:  No details.

Investigations

Named topographical feature on 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Ross-shire, Island of Lewis 1853, sheet 1), which also shows four of the buildings as ruins. Good series of oblique aerial photographs taken by RCAHMS Aerial Survey Programme in 2004 and 2011

1st Identified Written Reference (1865):  Description by Captain F W Thomas, possibly from information supplied by Rev M Macphail (Thomas 1890, 365-9; RCAHMS DC25544)
Excavation (1866):  Trench dug by Rev M Macphail (Barrowman 2006)
Other (1914):  Description (RCAHMS 1928, 7, no.15)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1969):  Surveyed at 1:2500 by the OS
Other (1992):  Scheduled
Earthwork Survey (2000):  Survey by GUARD (RCAHMS MS/725/287)
Excavation (2001):  Evaluation by GUARD (Barrowman 2001)
Geophysical Survey (2001):  Survey by GUARD
Excavation (2002):  In advance of footbridge (Barrowman 2002)
Excavation (2005):  Barrowman 2005
Excavation (2006):  Barrowman 2006
Excavation (2007):  Barrowman 2007

Interior Features

Series of rectangular buildings, one of which is the stump of a tower

Water Source

Pond identified by RCAHMS in 1914

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

Surface

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

Uncertain content

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

Finds

All finds are medieval to post-medieval

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:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  1:  Entrance into the Post-medieval stronghold faces onto the ravine on the S, but there was also access from the sea.

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (South):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

Stone faced turf rampart

Enclosed Area 1:  0.48ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.5ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  

Number of Ramparts:  1

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

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

Turf core

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

Barrowman, C (2001) 'Dun Eistean, Ness, Lewis, Western Isles (Barvas parish), promontory enclosure and dun; medieval fortification'. Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 2 (2001), 99-100, fig 40

Barrowman, C (2002) 'Dun Eisdean, Ness, Lewis, Western Isles (Barvas parish), dun and medieval fortifications'. Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 3 (2002), 119

Barrowman, R C (2005) 'Dun Eistean Archaeology Project, Western Isles (Barvas parish), fortified settlement on sea stack'. Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 6 (2005), 144

Barrowman, C (2006) 'Dun Eistean Archaeology Project, Western Isles (Barvas parish), excavation'. Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 7 (2006), 171-2

Barrowman, R C (2007) 'Dun Eistean Archaeology Project, Western Isles (Barvas parish), excavation'. Disc Exc Scot, New Ser, 8 (2007), 195-196

Burgess, C 2008 Ancient Lewis and Harris, Lewis: Hebridean Archaeological Interpretation Programme, 61-2, no. 3 (with plan)

RCAHMS (1928) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Ninth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles. HMSO: Edinburgh

Thomas, F W L (1890) 'On the duns of the Outer Hebrides'. Archaeol Scot 5 (1890), 365-415

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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