Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC2864: Dun Lagaidh  

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HER:  Highland HER MHG45426

NMR:  NH 19 SW 3 (12142)

SM:  2523

NGR:  NH 1423 9135

X:  214230  Y:  891350  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

This fort, which is overlain by a broch and latterly utilised for a medieval castle, occupies the elongated crest of a rocky and steep-sided hillock that stands at the foot of the mountain on the SW shore of Loch Broom where it narrows SE of Ullapool. Excavations in 1967-8 by Euan MacKie focused on the broch, which he demonstrated overlay the wall that probably forms the E end of the fort; at this point it measured some 4.5m in thickness and was pierced by an entrance 1.2m to 1.5m wide with a floor of steeply sloping native rock. The wall of the fort here showed no signs of heat or burning, though traces of vitrifaction can be found elsewhere on the circuit at the W end of the fort, and in what seems to be an outer line of defence crossing the ridge to the E; this latter was a timber-laced wall 2.4m thick and the excavation not only exposed large masses of vitrifaction in its core, but also two rows of horizontal beam-holes in its inner face. In view of the scale of vitrifaction in this outwork and probably in the W end too, it is curious that the wall beneath the broch was apparently unburnt and raises the possibility that the various elements of the fort that have been identified do not all belong to the same phase of fortification. Indeed, it is not possible to trace the line of the wall along the flanks of the hill, though its line cannot have strayed far from the lip of the summit area. Thus it is possible that the wall exposed by MacKie beneath the broch belongs to a much smaller enclosure occupying the very summit of the hillock. Leaving this caveat aside, the fort is probably roughly oval on plan, enclosing an area measuring about 75m from E to W by about 35m transversely (0.25ha). The overlying broch measures 10.6m in diameter within a wall about 3.6m in thickness and in addition to a mural stair on the WSW had an entrance passage with two sets of door-checks and a guard chamber on the ESE. Beneath its floor MacKie uncovered what may have been an earlier hearth and a mass of overlying charcoal that he believed were associated with the destruction of the fort.

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed

Location

X:  -571519  Y:  7940674  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -5.134041  Latitude:  57.872945  (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:  50.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

Three 'old' dates two of which fall in the 800 to 400 BC bracket, but the third is slightly earlier. A fourth date falls about the 9th century AD and a fifth to the 12th century AD. this latter confirming a terminus post-quem for the construction of the cast provided by hoard of coins with dates about AD 1180-1242.

Reliability:  C - Low

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

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Occupied by the broch and a medieval, castle

Artefactual:  No details.
C14:  Five old radiocarbon dates

Investigations

RCAHMS and Highland HER also hold photographic material

1st Identified Map Depiction (1875):  Named in Gothic type and annotated '(Pictish Tower)' on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Ross-shire 1881, sheet 22)
Earthwork Survey (1947):  Plan and description by RCAHMS (Calder and Steer 1949, 68-72; RCAHMS RCD 6/1 & 6/3)
Other (1964):  Surveyed at 1:10,560
Other (1965):  Scheduled
Excavation (1967):  Directed by Euan MacKie (1967; 1976; 214-9; 2007)
Excavation (1968):  Directed by Euan MacKie (1968; 1976; 214-9; 2007)
Earthwork Survey (1968):  Contoured plan by Euan MacKie
Other (1970):  Surveyed at 1:2500 by the OS

Interior Features

Featureless apart from the broch

Water Source

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

Surface

Broch

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

Excavation

Focused on elements of the broch

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

A bronze razor and an iron spearhead seem to belong to teh earlier occupation of the fort, while from the broch came a bone pin and a counter of medieval date, in addition to the bon handle of a knife, several square sectioned iron nails, several fragments of bronze sheet, a bronze ring-headed pin, an iron bridle bit and a boar's tusk.

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:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (East):  Simple Gap

Enclosing Works

Single wall for most of the circuit with an outer at one end

Enclosed Area 1:  0.25ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.3ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✓  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✓  Probably a complete circuit

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:  ✗  

References

Calder and Steer, C S T and K A (1949) '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 (p 149)

MacKie, E W (1967) 'Lochbroom, Dun Lagaidh vitrified fort and broch', Disc Exc Scot (1967), 47

MacKie, E W (1968) 'Lochbroom, Dun Lagaidh', Disc Exc Scot (1968), 41-2

MacKie, E W (1976) 'The vitrified forts of Scotland', in Harding, D W (ed) Hillforts: later prehistoric earthworks in Britain and Ireland. Academic Press: London, New York & San Francisco, 205-35

MacKie, E W (2007) The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC-AD 500: architecture and material culture, the Northern and Southern Mainland and the Western Islands. BAR British series (2 V). British Archaeological Reports: Oxford

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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