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Druim an Duin,dun

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Argyll, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.063 / 56°3'46"N

Longitude: -5.5657 / 5°33'56"W

OS Eastings: 178123

OS Northings: 691306

OS Grid: NR781913

Mapcode National: GBR DDMP.KDP

Mapcode Global: WH0J2.GVXX

Entry Name: Druim an Duin,dun

Scheduled Date: 16 April 1964

Last Amended: 10 May 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2420

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: North Knapdale

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Mid Argyll

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument is a prehistoric defended settlement dating probably from the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). The upstanding remains comprise a massive wall enclosing a roughly oval area approximately 13.5m NE-SW by 9.5m transversely. This well-preserved dun occupies a commanding position at the N end of a ridge that runs from the head of Caol Scotnish to Bellanoch, and is protected by steep slopes to the E and a sheer rocky drop to the W. Access to the fort is from the S along the ridge. Today it sits in a forestry clearing. The monument was first scheduled in 1964, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is roughly oval in plan but truncated on the W, 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, 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

Defended settlements of this type are generally thought to date to the later first millennium BC, although some were built or re-used well into the first millennium AD. Although now overgrown with vegetation, the upstanding remains survive in excellent condition. The monument retains many interesting structural and architectural features, such as the intramural chamber with its corbelled roof and lintelled passage, and door checks and bar holes. This monument has the potential to enhance our understanding not only of the design and development of duns, but also of other types of broadly contemporary, defended settlements in Scotland, including brochs, with which it shares some architectural features.

The enclosing wall has a general overall thickness of 4.8m to 5.2m, although along the western edge, where the wall has collapsed due to erosion, it is as little as 0.75m wide. At its greatest height, on the S side, the wall stands to about 1.6m high. Two opposing entrances pierce the wall, to the NNE and SSW. On the NNE, a gap of about 1m at the external face of the dun leads to a passage, approximately 5m in length and 1m in height, which widens to 1.5m as it reaches the interior. Approximately 1.5m from the outer face of the entrance passage there are two opposing doorjambs, each formed from a single upright slab. The entrance passage on the SSW side is about 5m in length, with an opening at the exterior of about 1.3m, widening to 1.8m at the internal face. The passage way survives to lintel height (approximately 1.5m). Two upright slabs form the jambs and, immediately N of the eastern jamb, there is a bar-hole which extends into the wall for at least 1m. To the N of the bar-hole, a narrow corridor in the eastern elevation of the entrance passage leads to an intramural chamber. The corridor still retains its lintels and is about 1m in length and 1.2m in height. The intramural chamber has largely collapsed, although part of the corbelled roof survives. In the dun interior, there is evidence of a secondary rebuild around the inside of the northern wall, which would have blocked the entrance on the NNE. This is the only visible internal feature, but it suggests that the site may have a long chronology and a complex development sequence.

Immediately N and S of the dun, there may have been outlying works forming two annexes, but it is not clear whether these are contemporary with the dun or the result of stone clearance during excavations which took place by the Society of Antiquaries in 1904-5. As there is no mention of them in the 1904-5 excavation report, it is likely that at least some of the more obvious terraces are the result of more recent works. The 1904-5 excavations recovered a number of finds, including part of a rotary quern and a steatite 'cup'. However, the excavations seem to have been limited mainly to stone clearance and there is high potential for important buried deposits to survive in the interior of the dun and in the immediate surrounding area.

More extensive excavations on similar settlements elsewhere in Argyll have revealed structural and artefactual evidence which suggests that a range of domestic and agricultural processing activities took place within duns. Such remains can further our understanding of the nature of Iron Age society and economy in this part of Scotland, including its agricultural basis and its contacts further afield. High potential also exists for the survival of environmental evidence, including a buried land surface beneath the dun walls which could preserve information about the nature of the environment when the site was constructed.

Contextual characteristics

This is one example from a class of over 110 enclosed and defensible structures in mid-Argyll, which are variously known as enclosures, forts and duns. Most of these structures were built most likely to offer some protection to individual families or small groups, although some of the larger examples could possibly also have had a variety of other functions, perhaps serving as a central place for the wider community. Defensive structures of this type reveal long periods of use and re-use and, despite the difficulties of classification of these various types of defensive monuments, they are likely to reflect the distribution of later prehistoric communities in Scotland. Monuments of this type are often located in naturally defensive, strategic locations where they dominate the landscape, and they often overlook important seaways and routeways.

The natural topography at Druim an Duin provides a naturally defensive site. It is situated at the N end of a ridge of high ground which is protected to the N and W by steep slopes, and to the W by sheer cliffs, with access afforded only from the S along the spine of the ridge. This location at the head of the ridge commands extensive views over the valley bottom, which would have been one of key N-S routes through the Keillmore peninsula. There are numerous duns in the area and the position of this fort in relation to other duns in mid-Argyll is also of interest: another dun is located just over 600m to the ESE at Barnluasgan, for instance. Further study can improve our knowledge of the placing of defended settlements in relation to the wider landscape and to each other.

Associative characteristics

The site is labelled as 'Fort (Remains of)' on the first edition Ordnance Survey map. The name 'Druim an Duin' means 'ridge of the fort'. National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved example of a defended settlement of probable Iron Age date, with high potential for the survival of important archaeological remains and deposits. The site has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the construction, use and abandonment of defensive sites of this period, and the nature of their occupation and re-use over time. It can also increase our knowledge of the architectural development and regional variation of Iron Age defensive structures in Scotland, and of the positioning of defensive settlements in relation to each other and to the wider landscape. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand early Scottish communal fortifications in Argyll and further afield.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland




Christison, D 1905b, 'Report on the Society's excavations of forts on the Poltalloch Estate, Argyll, in 1904-5', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 39, p. 28-52, figs. 13-16.

MacKie, E W 1997c, 'Dun Mor Vaul revisited: fact and theory in the reappraisal of the Scottish Atlantic Iron Age', in Ritchie, G The archaeology of Argyll, Edinburgh p. 142.

RCAHMS 1988a The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, prehistoric and early historic monuments, p. 1, no. 293. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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