Ancient Monuments

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Caisteal Suidhe Cheannaidh, dun 470m north west of Achnacraobh

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

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Latitude: 56.3692 / 56°22'9"N

Longitude: -5.192 / 5°11'31"W

OS Eastings: 202954

OS Northings: 724232

OS Grid: NN029242

Mapcode National: GBR FCKW.GJW

Mapcode Global: WH1J1.65VM

Entry Name: Caisteal Suidhe Cheannaidh, dun 470m NW of Achnacraobh

Scheduled Date: 26 January 1978

Last Amended: 15 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4120

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: Kilchrenan and Dalavich

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises a prehistoric dun, likely to date to the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). Known as Caisteal Suidhe Cheannaidh, this is one of the best-preserved duns in Lorn. Almost circular in plan, the lichen-covered walls still stand to a maximum height of over 2m and are up to 5m thick, enclosing an area of 11.9m by 13.1m. The dun occupies a commanding position at 210m above sea level, on the highest part of the E end of a rock ridge, overlooking the valley that runs between Taynuilt and Kilchrenan. The monument was first scheduled in 1978, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to b e scheduled is circular, measuring 40m in diameter centred on the dun. 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, 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 dun is protected on all sides by steep slopes, except on the W where there is a gentle approach along the crest of the ridge. The outer face, which consists of large stones measuring 1.65m by 0.6m and o.45m in thickness, rises with a slight batter to over 2m in height ion the W. The inner face still stands to an average height of 2m in about nine courses, though its base is now obscured by fallen stones. It is recorded that the dun stood to a height of about 6m before it was quarried for stone to be reused in nearby field walls. The entrance is on the NE and measures 1.75m externally, with large blocks forming the outer corners. The passage through the wall is checked for a door at a point 1.7m from the outside, where it widens to 2.1m. The inner portion of the passage, 2.4m in length, has slightly curved sides which seem to be corbelled inwards at the top, but this may be due to settlement of the stones. Some excavation was undertaken in the interior in 1890, during which several hearths were discovered, as well as the bones of horse and deer.

The footprint of the monument is intact and it survives in excellent condition. There is very high potential for the survival of buried deposits and features beneath and beyond the wall and within the dun interior, as confirmed by the results of the 1890 excavation. Future examination of the dun could provide detailed evidence for 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 in this vicinity. The monument has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the nature of Iron Age settlement and the design and development of these small defended settlements.

Contextual characteristics

This dun shares some characteristics with broch sites, for example, in its general dimensions, the slight batter to the walls, and some details of the entrance. However, there are no indications of stairs or galleries within the thickness of the walls. Its classification as a dun is probably more accurate, albeit a particularly substantial and elaborate example. Defended settlements of various types characterise much of the coastal occupation of Argyll and Atlantic Scotland in later prehistory, including brochs, duns, forts and crannogs. Altogether, over 500 later prehistoric settlements are known in Argyll.

It is believed that duns generally represent the remains of the living spaces of small groups or single families. However, Caisteal Suidhe Cheannaidh stands out not only for its remarkable state of preservation, but also because of its substantial nature and the sophistication of its design. Its construction would certainly have involved considerably more labour and materials than most Argyll duns, which suggests that it may have been a high status site and possibly fulfilled a number of functions. This is also suggested by its positioning in the landscape. Caisteal Suidhe Cheannaidh dominates the local topography and has extensive views to the N, S and E, the latter two directions overlooking the approaches. It is located at a strategic natural junction between Loch Awe and the River Awe, and would have been clearly visible on the skyline. A key view from its entrance is towards Ben Cruachan in the NE, which may have been deliberate. Researchers believe that visibility to and from this type of monument was important, as evidenced by its prominent position in the landscape and the fact that it overlooks a natural route-way. It may have been a hub in a network of similar sites in the area. This monument has high potential to contribute to our understanding of the Iron Age occupation of Kintyre and further afield.

Associative characteristics

The name 'Caisteal Suidhe Cheannaidh' is Gaelic for castle or fort, seat or resting place, possibly of Kenneth or king, which indicates that this has been recognised as a significant site throughout history. The monument is named 'Caisteal Suidhe Cheannaidh' and labelled a fort and on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey map.

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 high potential for well-preserved archaeological remains to survive within and immediately outside the monument. 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 ability to appreciate and understand the settlement of Argyll in the later prehistoric period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



On 23 March 2012 Andrew Fulton wrote to the owner and agent informing them about the scheduling assessment. We received confirmation of ownership and, on 8 May 2012, James Bruhn, Lindsay Farquharson and Susan Buckham visited the monument. James Bruhn wrote to all interested parties on 22 June 2012 to confirm our intention to progress this rescheduling. No issues have been raised.

RCAHMS records the site as NN02SW 1. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPIN 1621.


Christison, D, 1891, 'Excavation of the fort "Suidhe Chennaidh", Loch Awe and description of some Argyleshire cairns', PSAS, 25, 118-27.

RCAHMS 1975, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 2: Lorn, p 81, no 159. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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