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Dun Chroisprig, dun, Islay

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.7682 / 55°46'5"N

Longitude: -6.4542 / 6°27'15"W

OS Eastings: 120732

OS Northings: 661742

OS Grid: NR207617

Mapcode National: GBR BFGG.LGD

Mapcode Global: WGYGX.T8RX

Entry Name: Dun Chroisprig, dun, Islay

Scheduled Date: 6 June 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13306

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: Kilchoman

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument is a prehistoric dun (a defended settlement), likely to date from the Iron Age, some time between 500 BC and AD 500. The dun occupies the summit of a rocky knoll at 60m above sea level. The knoll is some 50m from a sandy shore on the Rinns of Islay and overlooks Machir Bay and the Islay coast, but is overlooked by high ground to its rear (SE). The dun is roughly circular and its drystone wall stands over 1m high in places. The dun interior is approximately 12m in diameter. Several significant architectural features are visible, including a single entrance in the WNW and parts of two substantial intra-mural galleries within the N and SE arcs of the dun wall. A probable outwork runs around the summit of the knoll, offering further protection for the dun.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan and extends to the base of the rock outcrop on which the monument is sited. The scheduled area includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to 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 survives as an impressive ruin and retains much of its structural and architectural detail. Some parts of the dun wall still stand over 1m high and are up to 5m wide, though they are around 3.5m thick on average, with some of the outer facing-stones visible. At least three courses of facing-stones are also visible in the entrance, which is 1.5m wide. The remains of the two intra-mural galleries are both around 1m wide on average. The southern gallery seems to be set at a slightly higher level than the northern and has been traced over a distance of about 11m. The galleries were roofed with lintel stones supported by rough corbelling. In places collapse from the dun wall has accumulated downslope, where it may seal deposits relating to the dun's occupation and construction. Outside the dun, the intermittent remains of another wall follow the outer edge of the summit; this is probably an outwork or additional defensive feature. In the SE corner of the knoll summit, this outwork comprises two overlapping walls, about 1m apart, suggesting that it may have been reinforced. In the SW part of the knoll, a further detached section of walling may also reflect a later adjustment.

The dun survives in good condition overall, with its footprint and much of its structural form intact and largely visible. This suggests there is high potential for the survival of important structural, artefactual and environmental evidence below and within the upstanding elements of the dun and its outwork, and beneath the collapsed material. Future investigation could provide detailed information about the date, form and construction of the dun, and the relationship between the dun and the outwork. Examination of the interior could contribute to our understanding of how this exposed site was used, and how this may have changed over time. Buried artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence can contribute to our understanding of how the dun's occupants lived and worked, the extent and nature of trade and exchange, and the nature of the wider agricultural economy. Pollen and other environmental analyses can indicate the character of the contemporary landscape. Overall, this monument has the capacity to enhance our understanding of the nature of Iron Age settlement and the design and development of these small defended enclosures.

Contextual characteristics

This type of relatively small, defended settlement characterises much of the coastal occupation of Argyll and Atlantic Scotland in later prehistory. Islay is particularly abundant in duns, with 49 known examples, mostly clustered on the Rinns and in the S and SE of the island. They belong to a much broader category of later prehistoric settlement, which includes brochs, forts, crannogs, duns and hut circles. Altogether, over 500 of these 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. Dun Chroisprig is fairly typical in occupying a steep-sided coastal knoll and taking advantage of its natural defences. However, the presence of much higher ground to its immediate E and S may partly account for the additional outworks, which are unusual for duns in this area.

Dun Chroisprig is part of a wider network of broadly contemporary sites in Islay and Argyll, including another dun located only 370m to the NW. Researchers have suggested that such sites were positioned in places which would have been visible from far afield and from other contemporary sites; and that this was just as important as having good visibility from a monument. A comparative study of these monuments and their wider landscape context could enhance our understanding of site location and settlement patterns during later prehistory in Islay and further afield. Overall, Dun Chroisprig has high potential to enhance our understanding of later prehistoric life in Islay and in Argyll.

Associative characteristics

The monument is depicted by name on the first edition Ordnance Survey map. In the 1930s the site was visited by the notable archaeologist, V Gordon Childe, who commented on its positioning.

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, small 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 dun and its outwork. 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 future ability to appreciate and understand the occupation of Argyll in the later prehistoric and early historic periods.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

References

Childe, V G, 1935 'Notes on some duns in Islay', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 69, p. 84.

Newall, F, 1962 'Dun Chroisprig', Discovery Excav Scot.

Newall, F, 1966 'Dun Chroisprig', Discovery Excav Scot.

RCAHMS 1984 The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 5: Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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