Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2778: Dun Canna  

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

HER:  Highland HER MHG9142

NMR:  NC 10 SW 1 (4530)

SM:  2419

NGR:  NC 1116 0080

X:  211160  Y:  900800  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

Dun Canna is situated on a precipitous and rocky coastal promontory at the N end of the beach in Camas Mor. Its defences comprises two elements: an inner enclosure on the crest of the seaward end, from which the ground slopes down to a sheer cliff everywhere except the NE, where gullies cutting in to either side have created a relatively narrow neck; and an outer enclosure taking in a larger and less precipitous area of the promontory on the landward side of the neck. The inner enclosure is roughly sub-rectangular on plan and measures about 43m from NE to SW by a maximum 13m transversely (0.05ha) within a wall reduced to a band of rubble spread between 3m and 5.5m in thickness; a run of outer face is visible at the SW end. A gap in the wall at the NE end was proposed by Charles Calder and Kenneth Steer as the position of the entrance (1949), but in 1974 John Macrae of the OS could not detect any hollow through the band of rubble here. The wall of the outer enclosure has been more massive, in places spread no less than 12m thick, though the wall itself ranges between 2.8m and 4.3m in thickness; the lines of both faces can be identified, the inner standing up to 1.2m high. A gap beside the ruin of a cottage set into the rubble on the NE is the result of later disturbance, probably to give access to the plots of lazy-beds that have been cultivated across the interior, but there is an original entrance in a re-entrant above the cliff-edge forming the NW margin of the promontory. Here the terminals of the walls overlap in such a way as to expose the left-hand side of the visitor approaching from the exterior; Calder and Steer found a check three courses high exposed in its S side. The outer wall encloses an additional 0.13ha, returning along the cliff-edge on the NW towards the inner enclosure, but petering out on the SE on the landward side of the gully forming the neck. While the configuration of the defences was construed as a citadel and annexe by Calder and Steer, there is no reason that the outer was not a fort of about 0.22ha in its own right.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -578108  Y:  7958166  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -5.193234  Latitude:  57.956407  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Highland

Historic County:   Ross-shire

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Lochbroom

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

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:  ✓  Overlain by a post-medieval cottage and the interior has been cultivated with lazy-beds

None:  No details.

Investigations

A range of ground-based and aerial views are held by RCAHMS, and others by Highland HER

1st Identified Map Depiction (1875):  Named in Gothic type on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Ross-shire 1881, sheet 7) and annotated '(Supposed Danish Fort)'
Earthwork Survey (1947):  Plan and description (Calder and Steer 1949, 74-5, fig 4; RCAHMS RCD 4/1-2)
Other (1964):  Scheduled
Other (1973):  Noted and photographed by Helen Nisbet (1975, 15)
Other (1974):  Revised at 1:10,000 by the OS

Interior Features

Featureless apart from the lazy-beds

Water Source

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

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:  3:  Discontinuous circuit

Number of Possible Original Entrances:  2:  Inner and outer entrances in separate circuits

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (Northeast):  Over-lapping:  Outer wall, oblique approach exposing left side
Entrance 2 (Northeast):  Oblique:  In outer wall
Entrance 2 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  Identified by Calder and Steer in the inner wall

Enclosing Works

Two walls, the outer cutting off the promontory and the inner enclosing its seaward end. Despite Richard Feachem's assertion that both walls are heavily vitrified, there is no evidence that this is the case (Feachem 1963, 149; Nisbet 1975, 15)

Enclosed Area 1:  0.05ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  0.22ha.
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.2ha.

Total Footprint Area:  0.36ha.

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  The outer wall cuts off an area of about 0.22ha on the summit area, but the ground falls away to the cliff-edge at the seaward end, giving an overall area enclosed of about 0.36ha

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  The inner has a complete circuit, but the outer is a promontory work

Number of Ramparts:  2

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  1
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  1

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:  ✗  The outer wall, enclosing an additional 0.13ha has been described as forming an annexe to the inner enclosure, ut there is no reason to believe they are contemporary and that the outer enclosure has not been a free-standing fortification.

References

Calder and Steer, C S T and K A (1951) 'Dun Lagaidh and four other prehistoric monuments near Ullapool, Ross and Cromarty'. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 83 (1948-9), 68-76

Feachem, R (1963) A guide to prehistoric Scotland. Batsford: London

Nisbet, H C (1975) 'A geological approach to vitrified forts, part II: bedrock and building stone'. Sci & Archaeol 15 (1975), 3-16

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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