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Eilean Àraich Mhòir, dun 730m NNW of Tigh na Croit

A Scheduled Monument in Kintyre and the Islands, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.8027 / 55°48'9"N

Longitude: -5.4881 / 5°29'17"W

OS Eastings: 181488

OS Northings: 662106

OS Grid: NR814621

Mapcode National: GBR DFTC.YR8

Mapcode Global: WH0KG.NDTY

Entry Name: Eilean Àraich Mhòir, dun 730m NNW of Tigh na Croit

Scheduled Date: 28 June 1972

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3183

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: Kilcalmonell

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a prehistoric dun (a defended settlement) likely to date from the Iron Age, between 500 BC and AD 500. The dun occupies the summit of Eilean Àraich Mhòir, a narrow rocky headland about half-way along the eastern shore of West Loch Tarbert. The dun comprises a roughly oval circuit of low, turf-covered drystone walling, which encloses an uneven interior measuring approximately 21m by 9m. It sits at approximately 15m above sea level and has commanding views in all directions, but especially to the S, across Kintyre, and seawards over West Loch Tarbert. The monument was first scheduled in 1972, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The visible wall probably represents the remains of an external wall enclosing one or more buildings, rather than forming a roofed structure on its own. The wall broadly follows the perimeter of the summit. The S and W arcs of the dun contain rock outcrops. Down slope of the summit, around the NW circuit of the rock outcrop, a platform rises gently from S to N and may be an associated feature, either a routeway or a lower level. To the S of the dun, there is a natural cleft and a drop to a level surface delimited by further rock outcrops, where associated activities may have taken place. On the ENE side, a 5.5m wide gap in the walling suggests the position of an entrance.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan and bounded mainly by the base of the rock outcrop on which the monument is sited. On the S side, it includes an area of ground abutting both this rock outcrop and an adjacent outcrop. The scheduled area includes the remains described above, an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, and adjoining land essential for the monument's support and preservation, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground remains of a post-and-wire fence to allow for its maintenance.

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The overall footprint of the monument is intact and, despite some invasive vegetation, it survives in a relatively good and stable condition. There is high potential for the survival of buried deposits within and around the dun. Future examination of the dun could provide detailed information about its date, form and construction, and investigation of the interior could contribute to our understanding of how it was used and how this may have changed over time. Buried artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence can contribute to our understanding of how people lived and worked, the extent and nature of trade and exchange, and the nature of the agricultural economy. Pollen and other environmental analyses can indicate the character of the contemporary landscape and provide evidence for how the inhabitants managed and farmed the land. The monument has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the nature of Iron Age settlement in Argyll in general, and the design and development of these small, defended enclosures in particular.

Contextual characteristics

This type of relatively small, defended settlement characterises much of the coastal occupation of Argyll and Atlantic Scotland in later prehistory. It belongs to a much broader category of later prehistoric settlement, which includes brochs, forts, crannogs, duns and hut circles. Altogether, over 500 later prehistoric settlements are known in Argyll. It is believed that duns represent the remains of the living spaces of small groups or single families. They are largely a coastal phenomenon and tend to be located on locally high ground, along prominent coastal routes or within easy reach of the coast.

This dun has a striking location in terms of its setting and visibility, which suggests that it may have been located with reference to other broadly contemporary and intervisible sites along the shoreline of West Loch Tarbert and nearby. Indeed, this site appears to have been selected as much for its visibility to and from West Loch Tarbert as for its defensive qualities. Much of the work needed to create an easily defended site was obviated by building it on a substantial and steep-sided rock outcrop. This dun may have occupied a sentinel position, overlooking any approach by sea from the W or by land and sea from the E. In this sense it may well have been part of a network of intervisible and broadly contemporary sites.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The overall footprint of the monument is intact and, despite some invasive vegetation, it survives in a relatively good and stable condition. There is high potential for the survival of buried deposits within and around the dun. Future examination of the dun could provide detailed information about its date, form and construction, and investigation of the interior could contribute to our understanding of how it was used and how this may have changed over time. Buried artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence can contribute to our understanding of how people lived and worked, the extent and nature of trade and exchange, and the nature of the agricultural economy. Pollen and other environmental analyses can indicate the character of the contemporary landscape and provide evidence for how the inhabitants managed and farmed the land. The monument has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the nature of Iron Age settlement in Argyll in general, and the design and development of these small, defended enclosures in particular.

Contextual characteristics

This type of relatively small, defended settlement characterises much of the coastal occupation of Argyll and Atlantic Scotland in later prehistory. It belongs to a much broader category of later prehistoric settlement, which includes brochs, forts, crannogs, duns and hut circles. Altogether, over 500 later prehistoric settlements are known in Argyll. It is believed that duns represent the remains of the living spaces of small groups or single families. They are largely a coastal phenomenon and tend to be located on locally high ground, along prominent coastal routes or within easy reach of the coast.

This dun has a striking location in terms of its setting and visibility, which suggests that it may have been located with reference to other broadly contemporary and intervisible sites along the shoreline of West Loch Tarbert and nearby. Indeed, this site appears to have been selected as much for its visibility to and from West Loch Tarbert as for its defensive qualities. Much of the work needed to create an easily defended site was obviated by building it on a substantial and steep-sided rock outcrop. This dun may have occupied a sentinel position, overlooking any approach by sea from the W or by land and sea from the E. In this sense it may well have been part of a network of intervisible and broadly contemporary sites.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular, the design and construction of later prehistoric, small defended settlements in western Scotland, and their place in the wider economy and society. There is good potential for well-preserved archaeological remains surviving within and immediately outside the dun. These buried remains can tell us much about the people who built and lived in the settlement and the connections they had with other groups. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the occupation of Argyll in the later prehistoric and early historic periods.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the site as NR86SW 1. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPIN 3932.

References

RCAHMS 1971, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 1: Kintyre, 85, no. 209, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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