This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Xmas Legs Small Present Present
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
IT
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Italy version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions >  Blog > Excavating an Iron Age Dun in the Scottish Highlands

Excavating an Iron Age Dun  in the Scottish Highlands
History Scotland

Excavating an Iron Age Dun in the Scottish Highlands

Posted venerdì 8 dicembre 2017   |   736 views   |   General Interest   |   Comments (0) Recently published research reveals the discovery of a dun and the complex history of an archetypal Iron Age settlement in Scotland

This archaeological ruin was discovered in 2010 by Forest District staff in Comar Wood in Strathglass near Inverness, and an archaeological survey and excavation were subsequently carried out on behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland. The appearance of the monument before excavations commenced in 2013 suggested that the site was possibly a broch or a dun. These stone-built structures have long been a dominant feature in the study of the Scottish Iron Age, and their classification and development has provided much debate.

It is difficult to accurately interpret the features of such sites from survey alone, and within the surrounding landscape of Strathglass, a wide range of potentially contemporary sites were known, including forts, duns and brochs. Few of these sites have been excavated or investigated in any detail. Only excavation could provide evidence that might help to address the recent identification of the central Highlands as a ‘black hole’ in terms of understanding the context of enclosed places by the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework panel.

Comar Wood Dun occupies a prominent site overlooking Strathglass. The central dun structure comprised a circular drystone wall with inner and outer facing stones, appearing as a large roundhouse with an internal diameter of c. 13m. Although portrayed as simple in form, duns are a very diverse class of monument, possessing a variety of ground plans, which include the possible roofed ‘dun-houses’ as well as the much larger ‘dun enclosures’ that were almost certainly unroofed and were more like the much later Irish ring forts. A good interpretation for this site would be that it was a dun-house – a substantial monument that is too small to be a fort and could have been roofed – within a defensive enclosure.

The excavation revealed that Comar Wood Dun had been constructed during the second half of the first millennium BC. Evidence for two burning events was uncovered, after both of which events the site was rebuilt and reused for several centuries before final abandonment. The rebuilding of Comar Wood Dun is consistent with other Iron Age Atlantic roundhouse sites. However, in stark contrast to many brochs, the excavations at Comar Wood failed to produce any dateable small finds, which has also been the case for other duns. The lack of material culture suggests either that the occupants thoroughly cleaned out debris in a methodical manner, before or after abandoning such sites, or that they were only used temporarily, possibly as places to retire to in times of strife. The reuse of these sites and lack of artefactual material suggest that they were not elite settlements, but probably related to more autonomous farming communities establishing a presence and control over territory.
That so few artefacts were recovered, and such little domestic debris encountered, may suggest that the Comar Wood Dun evolved from a local defended roundhouse into a meeting place, a monument located centrally that could have been visited occasionally.

Like most of the forts, duns and brochs distributed along Strathglass, the Comar Wood Dun’s location took full advantage of extensive views; whether to work on established lines of sight between contemporary structures, to provide a defensive location, or to represent a symbol of status within the wider landscape. With its impressive dimensions, including a possible towering conical roof, outworks and its location set on the edge of rocky knoll whose slopes fall quickly towards the valley floor, the monument would certainly have displayed an element of identity and prestige.
 
While further excavation of this site and other similar sites would reveal much more information, the excavation Comar Wood has shown that ‘keyhole’ investigations, designed to assess archaeological potential and recover information to a pre-determined plan, can provide valuable information and usefully increase the current corpus of knowledge.

The full results of this research, which was funded by Forestry Commission Scotland, ARO23: Excavation and Survey at Comar Wood Dun, Cannich, Strathglass, Inverness-shire by Mary Peteranna and Steven Birch is freely available to download from the ARO website Archaeology Reports Online: www.archaeologyreportsonline.com

For more great articles like this get the Jan - Feb 2018 issue of History Scotland below or subscribe and save.

Single Issue - Jan - Feb 2019 Replica & Mobile Edition included
€5,49
Or 549 points
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only € 5,00 per issue
SAVE
9%
€14,99
Or 1499 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only € 5,00 per issue
SAVE
9%
€29,99
Or 2999 points

View Issues

About History Scotland

History Scotland is Scotland's premier history magazine, providing fascinating features on topics from all branches and periods of Scottish history and archaeology, written by leading historians, archaeologists and museum curators. The magazine is

More great content like this...

For more great articles like this subscribe to History Scotland today.

History Scotland
Annual Digital Subscription for €29,99 saving 9%

Most read articles this month


The 5 Best Aviation Magazines

The 5 Best Aviation Magazines

Get ready to take your knowledge of aviation to new heights with our carefully curated list of aviation digital magazines. More...
The 5 Best Fishing Magazines

The 5 Best Fishing Magazines

Avid fisher? Or simply passionate about the pastime? Feed your fishing thrills with our 5 best fishing magazines from Pocketmags and cast your line with confidence today! More...
A Review of Dazed Magazine by Pocketmags

A Review of Dazed Magazine by Pocketmags

It is not about the latest ‘it’ bag or must-have accessory of the season, it is not about which celebrity was the best-dressed at last week’s awards ceremony or who has committed a serious fashion faux-pas. It is fully about redefining the status quo and challenging our conception of beauty - it is the one and the only Dazed magazine. More...
The 5 Best Baking Magazines

The 5 Best Baking Magazines

Passionate baker or dessert lover, here at Pocketmags there’s a digital magazine to make all your sweet dreams come true! More...
The 5 Best Scale Modelling Magazines

The 5 Best Scale Modelling Magazines

Start creating your very own miniature world today with one of our 5 best scale modelling magazines! More...
The 5 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Magazines

The 5 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Magazines

Inspire your meat-free lifestyle with our 5 best vegan and vegetarian digital magazines! More...
SURPRISE MAINLAND PACKAGE

SURPRISE MAINLAND PACKAGE

You don’t have to stay on a Greek island to enjoy Greek diving with all the trimmings, and ‘best-kept secret’ Epidavros offers its own argument for a mainland base. STEVE WEINMAN reports More...
The 5 Best Music Magazines

The 5 Best Music Magazines

Whether you’re an active listener, player or can get up and boogie to your favourite jam, here at Pocketmags, we have the 5 best music magazines to keep the beat alive in you all year round. More...
DIVING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

DIVING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

A manta ray called Mathilde was just one big reason why SIMON MORLEY will never forget his recent trip to Socorro, San Benedicto and Roca Partida – the main Revillagigedo islands More...
The 5 Best Wedding Magazines

The 5 Best Wedding Magazines

Are you dreaming of a white wedding? With luscious flowers, the sweetest melodies and a cake oh, so fluffy? Why not turn that dream into a reality with the most reliable and inspirational sources around? More...
Vouchers Carte Regalo Un abbonamento rivista è il regalo perfetto , ma avrete bisogno di qualcosa da mostrare il grande giorno. Altro
Modalità di pagamento Pocketmags Payment Types
A Pocketmags si ottiene Fatturazione sicura Ultime offerte HTML Reader Regali Loyalty Points