Hillfort: OS Grid Reference – NM 8544 0366
There’s two real ways to get up here: one from the Oban-Kilmartin roadside; the other from Ford village. I’d go for the latter as it avoids the traffic. Walk up the track to Salachary from the village centre, heading west. It’s a gradual uphill climb and after about half-a-mile (past six or seven cup-marked rocks) the great hill rises to your left. Dun Dubh is to your right. Climb over the fence and head for the hilltop.
Archaeology & History
It’s my opinion that this fort, above all others in the region apart from Dunadd, was of paramount importance to our prehistoric ancestors. The reason being that it’s the great pyramidal hill to which the line of tombs in the Kilmartin Valley align, three miles to the south. This prehistoric alignment was quite intentional (if you’ve got your doubts, gerrup there & have a look for y’self — you’ll soon change yer mind).
The main part of the structure is an irregularly-shaped construction with walling on all sides, measuring about 40 yards by 20 yards. Much of it is pretty well defined – though has been vandalized by various doods in the past: one bunch being a film-crew who used the site in the early 1980s! Inside the main walled fortress are several ruins. The Royal Commission (1988) report told:
“Much of the interior is occupied by a rock spine which is surmounted by a modern cairn, but the NW half is relatively level and it contains, in addition to the modern round-house…and and an S-shaped structure associated with film-making, a number of ruined stone foundations. On the north side there is a rectilinear building, and between the modern round-house and this rectilinear building, there is a further structure…an arc of walling, but its precise shape cannot now be determined without excavation.”
Dun Chonallaich means “the fort of King Connal’s people,” and although much denuded, is well worth the clamber for a short archaeological day out. A curious “gaming-board” was found here (see photo). A portable cup-marked stone in the fort’s southern wall is a modern artifact.
It’s a lovely view from up here too. This is one of many places I’ve sat during a raging thunderstorm. One helluva buzz, believe me!
- Gillies, H. Cameron,The Place-Names of Argyll, David Nutt: London 1906.
- Royal Commission for Ancient & Historic Monuments, Scotland, Argyll, volume 6, HMSO 1988, pp.160-61.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian