There are twenty duns, or ancient forts, in Tiree, it is said, but I have only seen eight, and examined two [..]. These duns, in the popular imagination, are all connected with Ossian's heroes, and I have had some difficulty in convincing the people that I am not in search of gold. There is a rhyme which says that Fionn left his gold in Dun Shiatar, which is situated near Hynish.
Ancient Sculpturings In Tiree. By Ludovic Maclellan Mann. From the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. 56
February 13, 1922.
The article mentions (with illustrations) cup marked stones at Gott Bay, Cornaigmore, Cuigeas, including some on a Standing-stone at Balinoe and others on the natural rock surface of floor of Kirkapoll Chapel.
There doesn't seem to be much if anything left of the stones of the dun wall here at Balephuil, according to Canmore. But it was built in a very well protected spot, on a corner of a rocky stack sticking out into the sea.
I like this story a lot.
One night toward the close of the eighteenth century, when a certain Dugald Campbell was tending the cows belonging to the farm of Baile-phuil, on the coast of Tiree, a small, red cow came among the herd. The Baile-phuil cows immediately proceeded to set about it with their horns. When it fled, they followed it. Dugald joined in the pursuit, during which, as he himself testified, the little, red cow at one moment seemed to be quite near him, and at another moment very far off. The chase was brought to an abrupt end when the little, red cow entered the face of a rock, and thus disappeared from view, never to be seen again by human eye.
In relating this incident, Dugald Campbell insisted that he had the greatest difficulty in preventing the Baile-phuil cows from following the intruder into the face of the rock.
From The peat-fire flame by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (1937). The cow of course is a red fairy cow, one of the cro sith which you might find on Tiree.
There is a folk-tale still told in Tiree of how an islander, when crossing the machar near Kennavarra, came within sight of [a cu sith, or fairy dog] crouching by a sand-dune, and immediately altered the direction in which he was making for home. Reflecting on this sinister spectacle the following morning, he resolved to put his courage to the test, and re-visit the sand-dune. Upon the sand at this point he discovered the imprints of a dog's paws, "as large as the spread of his palm." The imprints he traced for some distance, until they came to an end. He saw no dog anywhere, nor any beast likely to have left marks of this kind; and so he concluded that the object he had seen the previous evening was not of earthly origin, and must have been a faery dog.
From The peat-fire flame by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (1937). As he explains, they are a creature of ill omen and move swiftly and noiselessly. They bark three times, 'and there is usually a fair interval between each bark, which gives to the terror-stricken hearer a chance of making for safety before he hears the third bark. Otherwise he is liable to be overtaken and destroyed by the faery dog'. Just to warn you.
Canmore's record for the fort (in the area of Ceann a' Mhara) is here.
Perhaps, unless we except the so-called "Druidical" Standing-stone in Balinoe, the oldest memorial in Tyree, older even than the Culdee Churches, is the Clach a Choire, the ringing-stone - literally the "kettle" stone- which stands a little removed from the shore near Balephetrish, not far from the old marble quarries. It is a mass of stone, roughly cubical, balanced upon one edge, and computed to weigh about ten tons. When struck, no matter where, or however slightly, it sends forth a clear ringingnote. The people have a tradition that the stone is hollow and contains gold, but happily they have also another tradition to the effect that when the ringing-stone is cleft, Tyree will sink. On the surface of the stone are some thirty circular indentations, which I think most persons familiar with such things in other places, would unhesitatingly suppose to be cup-markings, but which, it is only fair to say, are also explained away as traces of many years of experimental stone-tapping. Apart from the fact that it seems hardly likely that even in the course of ages, native curiosity would compass so prominent a result, there is nothing to differentiate this rock from others admittedly "cup-marked" elsewhere, and they are found in great numbers in the British Isles and in Scandinavia.
I rather like the wording of this earlier commentary on the rock:
At Balphetrish there is the famous Ringing Stone. Its dimensions are 7 feet by 6 square, and 4 1/2 feet thick. It is of a dull grey colour, very hard and compact, and totally different from the surrounding rocks. It is evidently spotted with stars of black mica. Its hardness is so great that it is not possible with a common hammer to break off even the smallest bit. It is not intersected by any vein or cutter. Its solidity and equal texture must account for the clear metallic sound, for when struck on any place with a stone or a hammer, it sounds or rings like brass or cast iron. It has for ages past excited the admiration of the common people.
It excites my admiration too and I'd definitely like to see it, but I would try to resist trying to break a bit off.
From The Scots Magazine volume 60 (1798).
Photos of the cup-marked stone in its dramatic bay.
The record says "There can be no doubt that these markings are artificial and, while several of them are unusually large, the presence among them of many small circular cups, indistinguishable from prehistoric cup-markings, suggest that the whole assemblage may be prehistoric in origin (RCAHMS 1980). "