Dunadd is an Iron Age and later hillfort near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute. Originally occupied in the Iron Age, the site later became a seat of the kings of Dál Riata. It is known for its unique stone carvings below the upper enclosure, including a footprint and basin thought to have formed part of Dál Riata's coronation ritual. On the same flat outcrop of rock is an incised boar in Pictish style, and an inscription in the ogham script. The inscription is read as referring to a Finn Manach and is dated to the late 8th century or after.

Dunadd is mentioned twice in early sources. In 683 the Annals of Ulster record: 'The siege of Dún At and the siege of Dún Duirn' without further comment on the outcome or participants. In the same chronicle the entry for 736 states: 'Aengus son of Fergus, king of the Picts, laid waste the territory of Dál Riata and seized Dún At and burned Creic and bound in chains two sons of Selbach, i.e. Donngal and Feradach.'

The site was occupied after 736, at least into the 9th century. It is mentioned twice in later sources, suggesting that it retained some importance. In 1436, it is recorded that 'Alan son of John Riabhach MacLachlan of Dunadd' was made seneschal of the lands of Glassary; the chief place of residence of the MacLachlans of Dunadd lay below the fort. In June 1506, commissioners appointed by James IV, including the earl and bishop of Argyll, met at Dunadd to collect rents and resolve feuds.

Because Dunadd is mentioned in early sources, and is readily identifiable, it has been excavated on several occasions (1904–05, 1929, 1980) and has one of the most important ensembles of finds from any early medieval site in Scotland. Finds range from the 6th to the 8th centuries AD. These include tools, weapons, quernstones, imported pottery and motif-pieces and moulds for the manufacture of fine metalwork (especially jewellery).



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Founded: 8th century AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in United Kingdom


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User Reviews

Sam March (16 months ago)
One of the best forts I’ve been to, actually something to see. Has some spectacular panoramic views from the top, and a great information boards for you to read. The climb to the top is nice, but can be a bit challenging in slippery conditions or for those who struggle with mobility. Would highly recommend, if not just to see if you could become the king or queen of Scotland.
L Ellix (17 months ago)
Free entry, steep climb. This rocky outcrop is where the Gaelic Kings ruled from the 500s to the 800s AD. It's worth noting that there's almost nothing of the buildings and structures left up there, but you still get a sense of the drama. The footprint where all the king's placed their feet is impressive, and there are some drawings in the rocks too. Incredible how they've survived so long, unprotected. The children loved it.
Mike Muldoon (19 months ago)
Interesting fort with bags full of history and good views from the top. Easily accessible by car with a decent sized car park (though also makes a good cycling destination).
Grigoris Godevenos (23 months ago)
Old hillfort with one of the best real estate locations for the standards of Iron Age! Reach the top and you are treated to some amazing views! You truly feel like the king of Dal Riata!
Robert Manson-Sawko (2 years ago)
A fantastic place. Haunting story of the Dal Riata kings. Evocative views on the surrounding marshland. KEEP DOGS ON LEADS, even if you can't see any sheep. It's quite rocky and even a small chase can end up in a mishap.
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