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Dun Bharabhat

Stone Fort / Dun


The broch or galleried dun is on a small islet in Loch Bharabhat. The approach is a 600m walk from the road (B8059) into Bernera, crossing over the bridge into the island from the Lewis mainland. Accessibility but worthwhile. The dun was robbed early last century to build a sheep dipping tank, but sufficient remains to the site one of great interest. Dun Bhatabhat is an 'island dun', a defensive structure built on a small island with a 33m long causeway approach; it is one of a number of such structures to be found in the Western Isles.

Recent excavations have produced some surprises. Far from being the simple (i.e. solid walled) dun as recorded much earlier this century, it has features akin to a broch. One radio carbon date suggests 650BC for a primary structure and another, around 100BC, indicates a secondary occupation before abandonment. What is interesting about these dates is that they are earlier than the dating plan suggested for duns on the Scottish Atlantic coast.

The dun once had a double set of walls, like a broch, with a stair case in one intra mural gallery. At some time in the dun's history there w2as a second structure outside its walls which now lies in the waters of Loch Bharabhat. This has proved to be an excellent time capsule from which various objects have been recovered, pieces of heather rope, animal bones and straw, all of which have to be correctly assessed and placed in an appropriate time context.

The whole site is of interest because the underwater excavation complements the work being carried out on the land based dun and is the first time the two techniques have been used hand in hand.

About one quarter of the dun wall still survives to a height of 3m and is about 2.4m thick. A lower gallery is visible with a chamber at intermediate height.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th December 2016ce

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