Dun Dornaigil Broch

Dun Dornaigil (Dornaidilla), an ancient broch on the River Hope in Strathmore. 10 miles from the turn off on the A838 at Hope along the beautiful road that gives access to Ben Hope, slightly farther on, Dun Dornaigil Broch, Glen Golly and to Altnaharra.

 

A distinguishing feature is the massive triangular lintel over the debris-blocked entrance. It stands 1.8m to 3.3m high but rises to 6.7m on the north-east. Only the outer face of the wall survives: the inner one has collapsed and now a modern buttress supports the surviving wall.

This broch of which there are over 500 examples in Scotland was a local response. Built quickly but carefully with local materials it could give a small number of people shelter against every form of attack except prolonged siege or attack with heavy weapons. These methods were unknown outside the hands of the Romans who never penetrated this far in strength.

When a lookout on the wallhead saw a hostile band appearing the farmers would leave their fields scatter their cattle to the hills and head for the broch. With the door firmly closed defenders on the wallhead could throw down stones or unpleasant substances on anyone trying to scale the walls. The long narrow entrance passage made it impossible to use battering rams on the door. The design of the brochs suggests their builders were sure that if they held off the first attack their assailants would move on. The fact that brochs throughout Scotland were abandoned as a means of defence in the first of second century AD suggests that there were major changes in society. This could have involved a lessoning of tensions and thus a need for defence or a change in fighting methods, which made brochs obsolete.

Dun Dornaigil Iron Age Broch a preserved defensive tower OS Map Reference NC457450 This ruined broch, standing in a superb position on a low terrace on the River Hope in Strathmore has been carefully preserved, not restored, and is most impressive although it cannot be entered. Within the wall’s thickness a stone stairway gave access to several narrow galleries. The structure is owned by Historic Scotland. It is an excellent example of a Pictish broch with walls 14-feet thick and it is 27-feet in diameter in the interior. This Iron Age Broch also known, as Dornadilla would have stood twice as tall its high drystane walls formed a complete circle pierced only by a single narrow entrance. The walls were hollow and within their thickness a stone stair gave access to several narrow galleries probably used for storage. The inner courtyard would have held a thatched wooden dwelling which house d a small farming community who had built the broch as a shelter against marauding raiders. Who these raiders were is unknown, perhaps feuding neighbours from along the glen or pirates seeking slaves to sell. During the last centuries BC and first Ad life in most of Europe was troubled. Shortages of land led to movements of people which led to pressure on land this led to conflict and conflict led to building of defences.

Just south of Ben Hope lies the Dun Dornaigil Broch

 

The Iron Age Broch south of Ben Hope (NC456450) is an excellent example of a Pictish broch, with its triangular lintel. The walls of the broch are 14-feet thick and it is 27-feet in diameter in the interior. Dun Dornaigil (Dornaidilla), an ancient broch on the River Hope in Strath More, 10 miles from the turn off on the A838 at Hope along the beautiful road to  Altnaharra This ruined broch, standing in a superb position on a low terrace on the River Hope in Strathmore has been carefully preserved, not restored, and is most impressive although it cannot be entered.  A distinguishing feature is the massive triangular lintel over the debris-blocked entrance.  It stands 1.8m to 3.3m high but rises to 6.7m on the northeast. Only the outer face of the wall survives, the inner one has collapsed and now a modern buttress supports the surviving wall. Within the wall’s thickness a stone stairway gave access to several narrow galleries. The structure is owned by Historic Scotland. It is an excellent example of a Pictish broch.

 

When this broch was built also known, as Dornadilla, would have stood twice as tall its high drystane walls formed a complete circle pierced only by a single narrow entrance. The walls were hollow and within their thickness a stone stair gave access to several narrow galleries probably used for storage. 

 

 The inner courtyard would have held a thatched wooden dwelling, which housed a small farming community who had built the broch as a shelter against marauding raiders. Who these raiders were are unknown, perhaps feuding neighbours from along the glen or pirates seeking slaves to sell.

During the last centuries BC and first AD life in most of Europe was troubled. Shortages of land led to movements of people, which led to pressure on land, and this led to conflict and conflict led to building of defences.

 

This broch of which there are over five hundred examples in Scotland was a local response. Built quickly but carefully with local materials it could give a small number of people shelter against every form of attack except prolonged siege or assault with heavy weapons. These methods were unknown outside the hands of the Romans who never penetrated this far in strength.