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Dun Domhnuill, dun 70m NNE of Seafield

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.606 / 55°36'21"N

Longitude: -5.6824 / 5°40'56"W

OS Eastings: 168152

OS Northings: 640868

OS Grid: NR681408

Mapcode National: GBR DFBW.ZXW

Mapcode Global: WH0LB.PC85

Entry Name: Dun Domhnuill, dun 70m NNE of Seafield

Scheduled Date: 28 December 1971

Last Amended: 15 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3092

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: Killean and Kilchenzie

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises a prehistoric defended settlement of a type known as a dun, likely to date to the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). The dun survives as a low, roughly oval-shaped enclosure, with traces of internal features. It measures approximately 15m NW-SE by 7.5m transversely, with its entrance and approach from the SW side. It occupies the higher ground of a substantial, locally distinctive knoll, at around 15m above sea level, in an area of mixed rough grazing and unimproved land. It is located on the coastal strip of west Kintyre, between the shoreline some 50m to the W and a N-S trending ridge which rises immediately E of the dun. The monument was first scheduled in 1971, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan and is defined by the base of the rock outcrop on which the monument is sited, and includes an area extending W and SW of the 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 elements of a post-and-wire fence and a drystone wall to the immediate N of the outcrop, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The dun enclosure occupies most of the summit of a substantial rock outcrop. The outcrop is a naturally defensive location with steep or sheer sides to the N and E, but more sloping ground to the S and W, where the approach and entrance to the dun is likely to have been. The outline of the enclosure wall is clearly discernible beneath the turf and vegetation cover, together with intermittent traces of the outer and inner faces. Around the SW and parts of the W side, however, the edge of the knoll has collapsed, taking with it part of the wall; this debris is likely to contain displaced archaeological material from the construction and use of the dun. The interior of the dun is uneven, but the low outline of a sub-rectangular structure, measuring approximately 5.5m by 3m, has been recorded previously, which may be a secondary feature.

Overall, the footprint of the monument is intact and it survives in reasonably good condition, despite the relatively slight appearance of the perimeter wall and its partial collapse. There is high potential for the survival of buried deposits and features beneath and beyond the wall and within the dun interior. 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. The monument has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the nature of Iron Age settlement and the design and development of this type of prehistoric defended enclosure.

Contextual characteristics

This type of defended settlement characterises much of the coastal occupation of Argyll and Atlantic Scotland in later prehistory. They belong 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, as in this case.

This example is interesting because of its position right on the west coast of Kintyre, with a seaward outlook and clearly visible from the sea. Combined with its prominent knoll-top position, this suggests that defence and visibility were chief among the factors which determined its siting here, rather than proximity to agricultural land, for instance. Dun Domhnuill is one of a series of duns along this coast, with at least another four recorded within less than 2.5km to the N and S. They may have formed part of a network of broadly similar intervisible sites along the coastline. Dun Domhnuill has high potential to contribute to our understanding of the Iron Age settlement of Kintyre and further afield.

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 NR64SE 20. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPIN 3159.

References

RCAHMS 1971, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 1: Kintyre, p 83, no 202. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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