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Dun Ringill - Isle of Skye, Scotland
Iron Age Fort
National Grid Reference: NG 562 171

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How To Get There

From Broadford take the B8083 heading for Elgol. This is indeed a "long and winding road" - take it slow, take it easy - enjoy the scenery. When you reach Kilmarie take a left off the main road, signed to Kilmarie Old Burial Ground. Park just around the corner by the graveyard. Just back around the corner is a bridge over the stream. Cross this and then head out along the coast. You'll need to follow the coast path for about a mile to reach Dun Ringill.

This ruinous Iron Age fort is a place that I had long wanted to visit. I had tried to find it once before with inadequate maps and after failing miserably vowed that I would return suitably equipped. Finally that chance arrived during August of 1999. We were staying in a B&B at the south east coast of the Strathaird peninsular. Dun Ringill was just a few miles up the road.

This site had long held a fascination for me. You see, I'm a fan of Jethro Tull. Ian Anderson used to live in the house by Old Kilmarie Burial Ground and in 1979 he wrote a song inspired by Dun Ringill and the thousands of years of human endeavor that surrounded his home. Once I had confirmed my suspicions that Dun Ringill was a genuine site and not just a bit of poetic license I became committed to finding it.

The structure that awaited me bore more resemblance to a burial mound of some kind than a fort. It sits precariously atop the cliffs and looks like it should crumble away into the sea at any minute. The walls describe a rough "D" shape in plan measuring about 20 meters by 17 meters with an entrance to the northwest. The interior was full of fallen stone, weeds and thistles and looked too dangerous to explore in detail without at least a sturdy hard hat. I did explore enough to notice that there was space for a sturdy wooden door in the entrance and the holes in the walls for the bar which would have once secured it are still there.

 

In the wee hours I'll meet you
down by Dun Ringill -
watch the old gods play
by Dun Ringill.

We'll wait in stone circles
'til the force comes through -
lines join in faint discord
and the Stormwatch brews
a concert of Kings
as the white sea snaps
at the heels of a soft prayer
whispered.

Extract from lyrics of "Dun Ringill" from the Jethro Tull album "Stormwatch" © 1979 Chrysalis Record Limited

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