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The fort of Dun Deardail was probably built around 100 BC to 100 AD. Its first ever archaeological excavation took place in late 2015 as part of the Dun Deardail project. The aim was to increase our understanding of the hillfort and protect it for the future.

We believe the fort may have been occupied and perhaps rebuilt on several occasions through time, from Celtic fort through to Pictish citadel. The fort dominates the glen and would have been visible for miles around, its colourful flags and banners proclaiming the power of the tribe to whom it belonged. The name may be tenuously connected to the Irish legend of Deirdre of the Sorrows.

The fort occupies the summit of a prominent knoll on the north-facing spur of Sgorr Chalum on the south-west side of Glen Nevis. It overlooks the River Nevis some 300 metres below at the valley bottom. The fort has recently been archaeologically surveyed. It is pear-shaped in plan and covers an area of some 1250 square metres.

The exterior and interior

With the exception of a few small eroded patches, the entire fort is covered by grassy turf, with blocks of vitrified masonry poking through in places. The interior slopes down towards the south west with several breaks of slope forming levelled areas within the interior. Some of these may be natural but it is more likely that they are man-made and the upper ‘citadel’ level may once have hosted the main timber-built building.

The entrance to the fort is situated at the west end by the north west corner of the fort, and appears as a slight dip in the rampart. A path up the steep north west slope to the entrance may indicate the original access to the fort.

Visiting Dun Deardail fort

The exact location of Dun Deardail fort is grid reference NN 127 701.

The Dun Deardail trail to the fort leads from the Glen Nevis car park. Note that this walk leads onto an exposed hillside, so please make sure you have appropriate clothing and footwear.

All the forests and sites we manage are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.

Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.