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Dun Borve


<b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by LesHamiltonImage © Les Hamilton
Nearest Town:Uig (17km NNW)
OS Ref (GB):   NG459478 / Sheet: 23
Latitude:57° 26' 57.32" N
Longitude:   6° 14' 9.8" W

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<b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by LesHamilton <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by LesHamilton <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by LesHamilton <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by LesHamilton <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dun Borve</b>Posted by GLADMAN


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Visited: September 23, 2018

Dun Borve, situated at an altitude of 180 metres on the hillside just east of the village of Borve, was probably the final outstanding broch I had yet to visit on the Isle of Skye. All too often it had been bypassed en route to other sites to the north and west of the island. But it proved somewhat trickier than I had anticipated.

There was no problem parking at the farm as advocated by Gladman (blue marker), but where was that stile? The hillside now seems to be isolated by high fences and padlocked gates, with 'Danger do not enter' signs attached. So I walked down the road west into the community of Borve, a few metres past the first two houses, to find the moorland just two grassy fields distant: and there were convenient gates for access (white markers on the map above).

Entering the first field from the road, head diagonally left almost to its far corner, where an open gate leads to the second field. Then head diagonally right to its far corner where another gate leads out to the hillside. Thereafter it is just a 400 metre walk to the broch. Time taken, about 15 minutes.

Although Dun Borve is an almost featureless pile of long displaced stones at close quarters, it is well worth venturing up the hillside from where it offers its most striking profile. Down at the broch, the only major structure is a row of a few large outer foundation blocks on the southwest. As stated below, the exercise is well worth the effort for the views the broch offers.

By the way, if you are using an up-to-date map of Skye, the A856 is no more. Both the former A856, and the section of the A850 from Portree to Borve, were reclassified as the A87 when the Skye Bridge opened in 1995.
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
29th September 2018ce
Edited 9th September 2019ce

Now if this had have been one of my beloved upland cairns... this particular Citizen Cairn'd would have been performing cart-wheels of un-restrained physical abandonment... metaphoric cart-wheels, of course. Jeez. Give me a break. But no. Sadly the massive cairn which now surmounts this hilltop, boasting an equally monumental vista towards Portree and The Red Cuillin, represents the totally shattered debris of what was apparently once a great broch. Yeah, let's not beat about the bush.... it is totally wrecked, only the additional, outer defence line betraying the defensive nature of the site.

What a pity. In such a wondrous location even a hint of a surviving broch would have been, well.... I'll leave the adjective up to you. However, having said that, and to paraphrase the great Eric Morecambe, most of the constituent parts of the broch are still here. Just not necessarily in the right order! Hence a substantial degree of vibe still lingers, like the ghostly spirit loathe to stop frequenting the favourite 'haunt'. And of course there are the exquisite views. Yeah, I'd recommend a visit.

I approach from the mind-blowing, seemingly totally forgotten chambered cairn at Kensaleyre; however since I'm not exactly 'structured' in my wanderings, I guess most will probably venture out from Portree; if so, take the first turning to Borve on the A850 (to the right) - that is before the junction with the A856. Follow the road uphill to the right and park in the farmyard. I met the rather tough looking farmer here... as you might expect... who was only too happy for me to visit as long as I moved my Sassenach arse so he could move his tractor around unhindered. In short, I reckon he shares the vibe, you know? The indefinable love of what makes this land what it is. Told me he would love to see the broch excavated and restored to give some impression of what once stood here. Anyway, if he's not around a stile allows access uphill... then trend right and the shattered broch is impossible to miss.

Oh, and don't forget the pretty decent stone row 'in town'.
9th July 2012ce
Edited 9th July 2012ce


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An old man in Borve was very much later than his neighbours in cutting his corn. One day he was standing looking at it, and he said aloud, "This corn is ready to be cut." Waking next morning this easy-going old gentleman saw, to his amazement, his corn cut and put up in stooks.

The next morning he was met by a man about four feet high and dressed in blue clothes. (This probably meant for green, as my informant, Donald Murchison, while working in the garden always called grass "that blue sing.") The old man asked the stranger where he had come from. "From Dun Borve," answered the little man, "and want pay for cutting the corn."
"What pay?" queried the old crofter.
"A few potatoes and a little pot," was the reply.
This seems a floating reminiscence of the demands of the much-dreaded tinkers, for, of course, potatoes were entirely unknown in the days when this story was first told. However that may be, the demands in this case were acceded to, and now hardly a day passed without the little man or his still less wife appearing with new requests.

The nuisance became quite intolerable, and the old man beat his brains for a means whereby he might put a stop to it. He at last hit on a plan. One day, when his troublesome visitors were as usual asking for something, he suddenly called out, "Dun Borve is on fire with all in it, dog or man." Instantly the fairy disappeared and from that time troubled the ingenious old man no more.

But at Portree Market he once more saw the little man. Unwisely, he spoke to him, and the fairy said, "How will you be seeing me?"
"With this eye," said the old man.
Instantly the fairy put spittle in the eye indicated, and, though the old man retained the normal use of it, the supernormal power disappeared.
p205-6 in
Folk-Lore of the Isle of Skye
Mary Julia MacCulloch
Folklore, Vol. 33, No. 2. (Jun. 30, 1922), pp. 201-214.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd May 2007ce

Very close to the stones at Borve is a broch, which was once inhabited by the fairies. For some reason the local villagers didn't get on with their otherworldly neighbours and were determined to get rid of them. One day they hatched a plan, and early the next morning surrounded the fairies' fort. They raised a huge racket, shouting that the fort was on fire. The fairies rushed out at once. On realising they'd been duped, they felt so disgusted that they promptly left the district.

However, perhaps the fairies ultimately got their own back, because the village of Borve has never flourished.

The story was collected by Grinsell, for his 'Folklore of prehistoric sites in Britain' (1976) - I haven't noted his source.

He also mentions the name of the site, which like the 'River Avon' is a double naming: Dun and Borve both mean fort, in Gaelic and Norse respectively.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd December 2003ce
Edited 3rd May 2007ce