Dun Mac Sniachan, Benderloch, Argyll

Hillfort:  OS Grid Reference – NM 9032 3822

Also Known as:

  1. Dun mac Uisneachan
  2. Dun Uisnach
  3. Beregonium

Early plan of the Fort, 1885

Archaeology & History

This is a fine-looking monument amidst a fine piece of landscape!  The site was constructed over various centuries, beginning in the Iron Age, with the earliest parts being the traces of walling on the outer edges.  This first section of the fort “measures about 245m in length by a maximum of 50m in width internally,” and much of it can still be traced all along the full length and breath of the geological ridge upon which it sits.  However, the timber-laced walls that stood all round the edges have, obviously, all but disintegrated.  This earlier part of the fort, wrote Richard Feacham (1977),

“was superceded by a small subrectangular, now vitrified fort, about 170 feet long by 60 feet wide, and by a circular and probably vitrified dun measuring about 60 feet in diameter.”

View of the Dun (Smith 1885)
Looking out from the dun

There was ample water supply for the people who may have lived on this ridged fortress, as there is still a fresh water spring on the southeast edge of the hill.  And it seems pretty obvious that this fort was occupied for some considerable time into the Common Era, as material remains found amidst excavation work here at the end of the 19th century, “including metalwork of Roman date…suggests an occupation in the early first millenium AD.” (Harding 1997)

Folklore

The folklore and legends of this site (aswell as the surrounding district) are considerable, and for now I must refrain from writing all there is (it’d take me ages!). Needless to say, R. Angus Smith’s (1885) fine old history and folklore work  is the source of much material.  Smith told us that,

“There are many stories about it.  It has been called the beginning of the kingdom of Scotland, the palace of a long race of kings; also the Halls of Selma, in which Fingal lived; the stately capital of of a Queen Hynde, having towers and halls and much civilization, with a christianity before Ireland; whilst it has also been considered to be that which the native name implies, simply the fort of the sons of Uisnach, who came from Ireland, and whose names are found all over the district, and who in the legend are reported to have come to a wild part of Alban.”

References:

  1. Feacham, Richard, Guide to Prehistoric Scotland, Batsford: London 1977.
  2. Harding, D.W., “Forts, Duns, Brochs and Crannogs,” in The Archaeology of Argyll (edited by Graham Ritchie[Edinburgh University Press 1997]).
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Argyll- volume 2, HMSO: 1974.
  4. Smith, R. Angus, Loch Etive and the Sons of Uisnach, Alexander Gardner: London & Paisley 1885.

Links:

  1. PSAS: Dun mac Sniachan & other Local Antiquities

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.489198, -5.407095 Dun Mac Sniachan

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