Ancient Monuments

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Creag Aoil, fort 670m WSW of Tulloch Beag

A Scheduled Monument in Oban North and Lorn, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.2444 / 56°14'39"N

Longitude: -5.5362 / 5°32'10"W

OS Eastings: 180994

OS Northings: 711386

OS Grid: NM809113

Mapcode National: GBR DDQ6.LWX

Mapcode Global: WH0H9.X9WT

Entry Name: Creag Aoil, fort 670m WSW of Tulloch Beag

Scheduled Date: 19 December 1975

Last Amended: 15 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3786

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort)

Location: Kilninver and Kilmelfort

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises a prehistoric defended settlement or promontory fort likely to date to the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). It survives as low, turf-covered rubble walling enclosing a natural, steep-sided headland. The walling cuts across the headland on the S side, creating a roughly D-shaped enclosure. The monument is under rough grazing at approximately 30m above sea level and has commanding views westwards and to the N and E towards Luing and across Loch Melfort. The monument was first scheduled in 1975, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan and extends to the base of the rock outcrop on which the monument is sited. 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.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The fort takes advantage of the natural topography here, which is an easily defended coastal headland. It is protected on its W, N and E sides by near vertical rock faces which fall to the shore 15m below. The approach is from the S, on the landward side, across gently sloping land. The enclosed area of the headland measures approximately 32m by 17m. The remains of the enclosing wall are spread up to 3m wide in places. This is now only a very low feature, but would have been much more substantial when it was in use. The position of the entrance is probably indicated by a gap 1.5m wide roughly half way along its length. Previous fieldwork suggests that the walling was curvilinear, creating a crescent-shaped outwork at the S end of the promontory. The interior is overgrown and uneven and no structural evidence has been recorded.

Overall, the footprint of the monument is intact and it survives in reasonably good condition. Despite the relatively slight appearance of the perimeter wall today, there is high potential for the survival of buried deposits and features beneath and beyond it. The interior is uneven and featureless above ground, but is likely to seal important structural features, occupation and environmental remains. Future examination of the fort 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 its occupants 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 character of Iron Age settlement, and the design and development of these defended enclosures.

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. Duns and forts are believed to have been occupied by single families or larger groups, depending on their size. 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.

The design of this example is interesting in that it uses the natural landform and a single substantial wall to enclose a promontory and produce a defensive site, rather than building a fort on the summit of locally high ground. Its prominent position offers extensive views across the surrounding land and seaways, and it is likely to have been visible from the sea by approaching vessels. Its relationship with other forts and duns around Loch Melfort merits further research: it may have formed part of a network of similar sites along the coast and was probably intervisible with at least the dun at Arduaine, to the SW. Together with these other forts and duns, the monument has high potential to contribute to our understanding of the Iron Age occupation of this part of Argyll.

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 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 fort. 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



RCAHMS records the monument as NM81SW 7. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPIN 1070.


RCAHMS 1975, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 2: Lorn, p. 67. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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