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Dun Chibhich, fort 400m north west of Druimyeonbeg, Gigha

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.6868 / 55°41'12"N

Longitude: -5.7479 / 5°44'52"W

OS Eastings: 164519

OS Northings: 650069

OS Grid: NR645500

Mapcode National: GBR DF5P.CZ0

Mapcode Global: WH0KX.PB48

Entry Name: Dun Chibhich, fort 400m NW of Druimyeonbeg, Gigha

Scheduled Date: 30 June 1972

Last Amended: 10 May 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3230

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Gigha and Cara

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The fort survives in a stable and relatively good condition, in an area of rough grazing. It takes advantage of the natural defence offered by near-vertical rock faces around its northern end and very steep drops to the W and E. The only easy approach is from the SW. This natural defence is enhanced by a sub-oval, outer wall around the fort's southern circuit. The enclosure wall remains an impressive and substantial feature. It stands more than 1m in height and is over 3m wide in places. There is a well-defined entrance, 1.5m wide, in the SE part of the wall circuit, with a step or threshold at the mouth of the entrance passage. Most of the walling is obscured by vegetation, but in places the lower courses are visible. Vegetation also obscures the remains of any buildings and structures surviving in the interior, although a sunken court measuring 13.5m by 7.5m has been recorded previously, immediately inside the entrance.

This fort is of particular interest because of its larger than usual size and, consequently, the possible variety of functions it performed for its prehistoric builders and occupants. Elsewhere, similar forts have been shown to have a greater time-depth than is obvious from the above-ground remains, sometimes with the discovery of Bronze Age (earlier) and medieval (later) artefacts and structures, as well as different phases of Iron Age use. Dun Chibhich may also have been in use over an extended period. Given the good state of preservation of the enclosing wall and the relative remoteness of the location, it is likely that substantial buried remains may survive here, including buildings and occupation debris. The site has high potential to enhance our understanding of the origins, date, nature and development sequence of large defensive sites in western Scotland. Buried deposits, features and structures can elucidate the economic and agricultural basis of the settlement, provide insights into the contacts and social status of the people who built and occupied the site, and allow us to determine the duration of occupation of the fort.

Contextual characteristics

The word 'dun' is commonly applied to smaller defensive structures than Dun Chibhich, typically those less than 20m in diameter, which are likely to have been the homesteads of single families. The classification of Iron Age strongholds in Scotland is an ongoing topic of debate among researchers, but Dun Chibhich is considered to be a fort because of its size. Forts are much less common than duns in western Scotland, representing around 10% of the total number of defensive enclosures. This fort is one of a cluster of five broadly contemporary, but smaller defensive sites in Gigha, all of which are named as duns, including the coastal dun at Dun an Trinnse 930m to the NNW and another dun in the interior of the island, Dunan an t Seasgain, 745m to the NE. Researchers have suggested that the location of forts and duns is significant and that they were deliberately positioned to be intervisible, and were also intended both to be visible from the sea and to command good views out to sea. Dun Chibhich has a prominent position on the island atop one of the highest knolls, from where there are commanding views not only to Islay, Jura and Kintyre to the E, but also across the western and eastern sea channels which flank Gigha. Further study of Dun Chibhich and its function alongside the cluster of smaller duns in Gigha has high potential to enhance our understanding of the date, settlement pattern and use of defensive sites in the later prehistoric period.

Associative characteristics

Dun Chibhich is traditionally said to be the approximate location of a 'giant's grave', that of a local chieftain Kifi who, according to folklore, is buried in a stone enclosure to the S of the fort. A substantial sub-rectangular structure is visible in aerial photographs to the S of the fort, but no recorded archaeological evidence is available for its date or function.

National Importance

The monument comprises a prehistoric fort, likely to date to the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). The fort survives as a substantial turf-covered wall enclosing an area of approximately 37m by 25m, with associated buried remains. The fort is located in the centre of the island of Gigha and occupies a rocky knoll crowning the NE end of a prominent ridge at 45m above sea level. It has extensive views in all directions. 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 circular on plan, measuring 70m in diameter, 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.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a good example of a later prehistoric fortification, with its natural defences enhanced by a substantial stone wall. It has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular of defensive sites in western Scotland and its islands and in the Irish Sea region. Dun Chibhich has particular importance as the largest defended site on Gigha among a group of broadly contemporary strongholds. There is high potential for well-preserved archaeological remains to survive within and immediately outside the fort. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our ability to appreciate and understand early Scottish communal fortifications.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1971, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, volume 1: Kintyre, p 70. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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