Ancient Monuments

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Dun an Trinnse, dun 325m north west of Ardailly, Gigha

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

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Latitude: 55.6946 / 55°41'40"N

Longitude: -5.7539 / 5°45'14"W

OS Eastings: 164187

OS Northings: 650962

OS Grid: NR641509

Mapcode National: GBR DF5N.P6S

Mapcode Global: WH0KX.L487

Entry Name: Dun an Trinnse, dun 325m NW of Ardailly, Gigha

Scheduled Date: 30 June 1972

Last Amended: 10 May 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3229

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: Gigha and Cara

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises a prehistoric dun, likely to date to the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). The dun is located on the summit of a steep-sided rocky knoll, at 15m above sea level, overlooking Garbh Phort on the west coast of Gigha. It is visible as the remains of a sub-oval wall drawn around the margin of the knoll to enclose an area of approximately 13.5m by 12m. The monument was first scheduled in 1972, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, to include the remains described above and 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. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground remains of all fences 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 occupies the northern part of a small coastal promontory, with two sheltered sea inlets to the N and S and a neck of adjoining land to the E. The dun sits on the summit of a steep-sided rocky knoll, which affords it strong natural protection. Access to the dun is easiest from the S and W, over less steep ground. The entrance was positioned in the W, where there is a break in the low, turf-covered walling around the edge of the knoll. A number of outer facing-stones can be seen intermittently around the flanks of the knoll below the summit. Interestingly, the lowest course of the outer facing-stones continues across the entrance, thereby providing a step or threshold at the outer end of the passage; a similar feature was observed at the broadly contemporary fort, Dun Chibhich, 950m to the SSE. The interior is slightly sunken and lies more than 1m below the top of the surviving internal wall, which may reflect the exposed nature of this location. There are no visible features in the interior, apart from the ruin of a secondary rectangular building, which partly overlies the dun wall.

Overall, the footprint of the monument is intact and it survives in good condition, despite its exposed coastal location. 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 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 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 type of defended settlement characterises much of the coastal occupation of Argyll and Atlantic Scotland in later prehistory. Duns belong to a much broader category of later prehistoric defended 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 they tend to be located on locally high ground, along prominent coastal routes or within easy reach of the coast, as in this case.

Dun an Trinnse is one of a cluster of five similar duns on Gigha, which together offer high potential to investigate the relationships between a group of broadly contemporary strongholds in an island setting. Researchers have suggested that duns are often positioned for their seaward views, their visibility to seafarers, and sometimes their inter-visibility. Dun an Trinnse occupies a sentinel position with extensive views westwards over the sea channel and a line of sight to Islay and Jura; it would also have been clearly visible from the sea. This monument has high potential to contribute to our understanding of the Iron Age occupation of Gigha, Kintyre and further afield.

Associative characteristics

The dun is depicted on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map where it is labelled 'Fort'.

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 and their place in the wider economy, society and landscape. There is good potential for well-preserved archaeological remains to survive on the site. These buried remains can tell us much about the people who built and lived in the dun, 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 historic periods.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS 1971, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 1: Kintyre, p 82, no 199. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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