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Dun Carloway



Here's some folklorey information scattered through an article called 'On the Duns of the Outer Hebrides' by, curiously, 'the late Captain F W L Thomas', in Archaeologica Scotica volume 5 (1890).
Dun Charlobhaidh (pronounced Doon Karlovay), Uig, Lewis."

... In Lewis they have a tradition that when these towers were being built a row of men reached from the dun to the shore, from whence the stones were passed from hand to hand; and that the towers being conical, they were built to such a height that only a single stone or flag was required to close the top.

... Donald Cam Macaulay and a famous blacksmith called the Gow Ban (Gobha Ban = Fair Smith) went to the Flannan Isles in summer; when the Morrisons of Ness, hearing they were away, came and seized all their cows that were on the Uig moor. None dare offer resistance to the Morrisons, but on the return of the Macaulays their wives met them on the beach to tell them of the foray. The Macaulays at once crossed Loch Roag in pursuit, and on nearing Dun Carloway they saw their cattle grazing there, and guessed from that the Morrisons were in the castle. The Macaulays rested that night on a hill close by, and early next morning Donald Cam and the Smith went out to reconnoitre.

Not far from the dun was a fire, over which rested a large kettle, wherein was a whole carcase of one of the cows plundered by the Morrisons; and the cook was asleep near it. Donald Cam told the Smith to hold the man till he took the meat out of the kettle, which he did. As soon as the beef was out of the kettle the Smith threw the cook into it. The beef was put into the Smith's plaid, and carried to the Macaulays for their breakfast.

Donald Cam then stalks the sentry at the door of the dun and kills him. The Smith is directed to prevent escape by the door, while Donal Cam climbs up the walls by means of two dirks or daggers, using them as steps, changing them by turns until he got to the top of the uncouth edifice. This dun, upon a superstructure at the top, is closed by a large flag(?). When Donald Cam got to the top he told his men to pull heather and make it into large bundles; these he threw into the area of the dun, and, calling for fire, he sets light to the heather, and smothers and burns all the inmates.

Donald Cam then demolished Dun Carloway; - that old fabric, built in the fourth century by a giant, called Dearg Mac Nuaran. There are two similar duns in the parish of Uig, built and inhabited by two brothers of Dearg, named Kuoch Mac Nuaran and Tidd Mac Nuaran.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st February 2010ce

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