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An Caisteal, dun

A Scheduled Monument in Oban South and the Isles, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.3129 / 56°18'46"N

Longitude: -6.2261 / 6°13'33"W

OS Eastings: 138742

OS Northings: 721418

OS Grid: NM387214

Mapcode National: GBR CD01.2XW

Mapcode Global: WGYDB.BLF9

Entry Name: An Caisteal, dun

Scheduled Date: 29 October 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10622

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: Kilfinichen and Kilvickeon

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban South and the Isles

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises a dun, visible as upstanding remains. Duns are fortified settlement sites of Iron Age date (around 500 BC to AD 500).

The monument occupies a conspicuous position on the summit of a rocky crag, about 550m SE of Bunessan and at about 60m OD. On the N flank the ground falls away steeply, but on the S, where there is a saddle affording relatively easy access, the dun is overlooked by higher ground.

Partial excavation was carried out in 1960, during which the entrance and the SW part of the interior were examined, and a section was cut through the dun wall on the S.

The dun is irregular on plan and measures approximately 8.2m E-W by not more than 8.8m transversely, within a drystone wall of varying thickness, from about 4m on the S to 6.1m by the entrance. No inner facing-stones were discovered in situ during the excavation, probably because of stone-robbing. Within the body of the wall, an outward-facing revetment was traced intermittently around most of the S half of the perimeter.

Similar features have been noted in other duns on Mull and at fortified sites elsewhere in Argyll. In this case, however, the revetment is exceptionally well built for an intramural feature, and it is possible that this is in fact the original outer face of the dun wall, to which an outer skin was added at some later date, perhaps to preserve its stability.

An unusual entrance is situated on the W side. The entrance passage narrows from 1.6m wide on the outer face to only 0.6m wide at its inner end. The outermost 1.3m length of the N passage-wall is stepped back, making the passage roughly L-shaped on plan. This expansion on the outer face would have made the entrance more vulnerable to attack, which suggests that it was not part of the original design, but the result of later alterations.

During excavation an orthostatic stone slab was found blocking the entrance at the point where it increases in width, and a similar slab was discovered lying on the floor of the passage at its mouth. These may have been used to close the passage (instead of the more usual wooden doors), or they may have been displaced from the passage wall. The innermost slab could originally have served as a door-jamb.

Apart from three crude hearths, the excavated portion of the interior contained no significant structures. Among the artefacts recovered were several small sherds of coarse native pottery, the upper stone of a rotary quern, and a small fragment of micaceous schist bearing a cup-shaped depression.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material is likely to survive. It is sub-rounded in shape, with maximum dimensions of 56m N-S by 62m E-W, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to an understanding of later prehistoric defended settlements and economy. Its importance is increased by its proximity to other monuments of potentially contemporary date.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NM32SE 2.


Fairhurst H 1964, 'An Caisteal: an Iron Age fortification in Mull', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 95, 199-207.


Photographic references:

RCAHMS 1960 A41518PO (H Fairhurst).

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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