Ancient Monuments

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Arduaine, dun 65m north west of The Old Cottage

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

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Latitude: 56.2363 / 56°14'10"N

Longitude: -5.5552 / 5°33'18"W

OS Eastings: 179769

OS Northings: 710544

OS Grid: NM797105

Mapcode National: GBR DDN7.B68

Mapcode Global: WH0H9.MJW1

Entry Name: Arduaine, dun 65m NW of The Old Cottage

Scheduled Date: 17 March 1976

Last Amended: 10 May 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3847

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: Kilninver and Kilmelfort

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises a prehistoric defended settlement of a type known as a dun, likely to date to the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). It survives as an oval-shaped enclosure, measuring roughly 18m by 13m, defined by the remains of a turf-covered wall spread to 4m thick on average. The dun occupies the summit of a substantial rock outcrop in an area of rough grazing and bracken. It stands at 60m above sea level and has commanding views over Loch Melfort to the N and the surrounding land. The monument was first scheduled in 1976, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is circular, measuring 50m in diameter, to include 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. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground elements of an aerial mast and post-and-wire fence, to allow for their maintenance.

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The dun survives as a low oval-shaped wall circuit, with breaks in its NNE and SW arcs suggesting the position of entrances. Some sections of inner wall facing are visible in the northern half of the monument, but in the main the walling has been reduced to a low bank of stony debris obscured by vegetation. The uneven interior surface is also obscured by vegetation, but it is likely that this originally contained structures, either free-standing or butted against the enclosure wall. The dun is likely to contain archaeological evidence for structures and occupation activity.

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 the wall and within the dun interior. Future examination of the dun 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 people lived and worked, the extent and nature of trade and exchange, and the nature of the agricultural economy. The monument therefore has the potential to contribute to our understanding 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. It belongs 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. 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 tend to be located on locally high ground, along prominent coastal routes or within easy reach of the coast, as in this case.

The dun at Arduaine occupies a prominent position atop a locally high summit. It lies only some 325m from the S shore of Loch Melfort and overlooks the seaward passage into Loch Melfort, as well as much of the surrounding landscape. It is likely to have been intervisible with broadly contemporary sites and was perhaps part of a network comprising defended settlements along the coastline of Argyll. As well as visibility, defence was undoubtedly an important factor in locating the dun here, given the natural protection provided by the steep slopes surrounding the enclosure wall.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

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 to survive within and immediately outside the dun. 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 and early historic periods.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as NM71SE 10. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPIN 857.


RCAHMS 1975, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 2: Lorn, p 79, no 154. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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