Hillfort: OS Grid Reference – NM 8640 0479
Also Known as:
From Ford village, take the track that goes uphill (west) running near the edge of the forest-line. Keep going until you hit the top of the forest and the large rocky hill above you (on your right) is where you need to be heading. The rise to your left is Dun Chonallaich. Walk around the bottom of the hill until you get to the other side (you should be 100 yards or more above the tree-line) where you’ll notice a ‘pass’ running west, with a rocky knoll above you on your right. That’s it!
Archaeology & History
Thought to date from the Iron Age, the remains here cover an area 15 yards by about 25 yards. Remains of walling around the edge of the summit nearly a yard wide in places define quite clearly where the ‘fort’ was centred. The entrance to the site was found on the northwestern side. In more recent times however, animal pens have intruded on the remains here and the archaeological remnants are much denuded.
Samhain fires were lit on the larger ridge above this ruined fort until recent years, as some old local folk will tell you. These Halloween fires (done to celebrate the old New Year) were stopped a short time after the new ‘owner’ of the Auchinellan Estate (on whose land Dun Dubh is found) took exception to them and, for all intent and purpose, deemed them a fire hazard! The lady in question who inherited the Estate was in fact a devout christian who took exception to the local “pagan” goings-on, contrary to the beliefs of the previous Estate owner, who not only allowed such old events, but played a part in them. Local folk hereabouts, not surprisingly, aint too keen on their part-time dictatorial christian neighbour.
The fires up here were also related to the linear cemetery at Kilmartin. Here the giant tombs all line up & point to Dun Chonallaich, behind which hides the more flattened top of Dun Dubh. When the Halloween fires were lit on top of this, the glow from behind the great pyramid of Chonallaich all the way down to Valley of the Kings, was spectacular! One wonders just how long the local people had been doing this…
- Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Argyll – volume 6, HMSO: Edinburgh 1988.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian