Breaking New Ground at Dun Deardail Hillfort

From the 14th to 28th of August 2015, Nevis Landscape Partnership will be breaking new ground at Dun Deardail, as a team of volunteers conduct the first excavations of this enigmatic site with the support of archaeologists from AOC Archaeology Group (AOC). Dun Deardail is a vitrified hillfort; its wooden and stone defences were burned at such high temperatures, and for such a long time, that the stone fused together. This phenomenon was previously thought to be unintentional, the result of accident or attack, but experimental archaeology has shown that vitrification occurs only after long periods of burning: the fires must have been fed and stoked, suggesting that vitrification was an intentional process.

Having never been dug before, very little is known about the hillfort at Dun Deardail and the people who built it. This first phase of excavations at will reveal new information about the fort, from details about the construction of the defences to learning whether the traces of any buildings remains in the interior, and will also aim to date the site. The project runs over three years, and the results of 2015’s excavations will inform further work which will take place in 2016 and 2017.

Volunteers will receive training in a range of archaeological skills, both onsite and during off-site workshops held locally in the evenings. Local school pupils will visit the site and learn about archaeology and the people of the Highland hillforts. Visitors are most welcome during the excavations, and an Open Day will take place on Saturday 22nd of August, with guided site tours running at 11am and 3pm. Meet at the Braveheart car park at 10.15am or 2.15pm for transport to site, or if you’d like to make your own way to the summit on foot, we’ll see you up there at 11am/3pm.

To register to take part in the excavations, please get in touch with Project Manager Martin Cook or (0131) 440 3593.

To find out more, please contact Nevis Landscape Partnership: (01397) 701088 or or find them on Facebook at

Excavations at Dun Deardail are taking place in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) as part of Nevis Landscape Partnership, which is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Banner image © FCS by Rubicon Heritage
Side image © FCS by Caledonian Air Surveys