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A fine example of a Hebridean broch, apparently occupied to the 18th century.

Uniquely Scottish

Dun Beag is a good example of a broch – a type of fortification found only in Scotland. There are well over 500 of them across the country, the majority in northern and western Scotland and the islands.

Brochs emerged in the Iron Age, around 2,300 years ago. They stopped being built in the early centuries AD.

Brochs developed from strong circular houses into tall, imposing buildings. They were drystone structures formed of two concentric walls, with a narrow entrance passage at ground level and small cells entered off the central area. A stone stair corkscrewed its way between the two walls to the top.

A safe house

Dun Beag perches on top of a rocky knoll. The surviving remains of the tower-like structure stand around 2m high, and the interior measures some 11m across within walls about 4m thick. The entrance, on the east, is narrow, and the door-checks to either side show it was once closed by a timber door.

Even in its ruined state, Dun Beag shows the ingenuity of Scotland’s Iron-Age farmers, faced with a threat whose nature we can only guess at. Once inside, three openings are visible in the broch wall. One leads to a small chamber, perhaps a guardroom. A second takes you to a long narrow gallery within the wall thickness. A third goes to the stone stair that rose to the wallhead, of which some twenty steps survive.

It is impossible to tell the original height of the wallhead above ground level. But judging by more complete examples (such as the two Glenelg brochs, < Dun Telve> and <Dun Troddan> on the mainland opposite Skye), a height of around 10m seems likely.

  • The location – on the summit of a rocky knoll with splendid views across Loch Bracadale towards the Western Isles.