Dun Suladale, Isle of Skye: an Enigmatic Broch Site
In the summer of 2015, AOC carried out a comprehensive survey of Dun Suladale, Isle of Skye, on behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland for Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy. This enigmatic broch site sits high on a rocky knoll with commanding views in all directions. The roughly coursed drystone walls survive to a maximum height of 2.4m and are up to 3.7m wide. Four lintel stones cap an entrance on the north-west side, which also has an oval chamber to one side. This feature is interpreted as a guard-cell, a common feature of brochs. Though the presence of much rubble prevents detailed interpretation of these features, it seems as though the entrance passage would have been at least 2m in height, which is unusual – often, you have to crouch to get through the door! Further cells are found in the south-west and north-east of the broch walls. Directly opposite the entrance is a doorway leading to a set of narrow, intra-mural steps (below, lower image). These would have led to a second storey within the broch. The height of this second floor is not known as no scarcement ledge survives within the interior.
Outside the broch, around the base of the rocky knoll, lie the remains of a settlement comprising small sub-rectangular and sub-oval structures. Stretches of wall can also be identified in the broch interior and it is likely that these remains represent secondary re-use of the site, perhaps in the early historic period. It is quite common to find evidence of later re-use of broch sites after abandonment, perhaps because they were placed in prime locations and also because of the easy availability of stone for building.
A range of survey methods was employed, comprising laser scanning, photogrammetry and total station survey, as well as a detailed written and photographic record. Combined, these techniques ensure accurate recording and informed interpretation. The site was chosen as a great candidate to help forward the survey methodology and archaeological visualisation of brochs. Earlier in the year, it was also photographed by Ed Martin, using a remote-controlled hexacopter – the low cloud only adding to the sense of mystery.
The sights and sounds of life within the broch are now long gone. All that remains is the archaeology beneath our feet and the age-old masonry of the broch itself – an impressive stronghold with amazing views.