Vitrifaction

One night, Dun Deardail's last, was different. The process of vitrifaction occurs when a timber-framed stone-built rampart is destroyed by fire and the heat generated is so intense that the core of the stone rampart melts. Large blocks of burnt and conglomerated stone rubble can still be seen within the walls of the upper citadel and the lower enclosure.

Vitrifaction is not a deliberate construction method (as the original timber laced rampart would have been much more stable) and is unlikely to have been the result of accidental fire. The heat required to melt the rock is such that the fires must have been deliberately set, the ramparts heaped with additional wood.

DunDeardail vitrification

This artist’s reconstruction captures the drama of the final hours of Dun Deardail.

Dun Deardail was deliberately destroyed perhaps symbolically by victorious attackers, or perhaps as a ceremonial event following the death of a tribal chief or king. We may never know for sure.