The secrets of Derdriu’s fort uncovered

Excavations at Dun Deardail copyright Peter Devlin 2

A fascinating glimpse into the construction – and destruction – of an Iron Age fort in Glen Nevis are the focus of a new publication from the Nevis Landscape Partnership.

Launched today (Friday 23 February) at The Highland Bookshop in Fort William, The Archaeology of Dun Deardail describes the recent excavations – and explores the ancient Celtic myth of The Sorrow of Derdriu.

The hillfort was destroyed in a catastrophic fire in 310 BC – but was this accidental or deliberate? The fire was so intense that it melted the stones of the rampart together, and large blocks of conglomerate stone can still be seen.

Lizzie Cooper, Programme Manager with the Nevis Landscape Partnership, said:

"The Dun Deardail project has been a great focal point for the community, with volunteers from near and far coming to help out and lots of interest from local schools.

"Everybody who has been involved in the project has played an important part on this journey into the past.

"We’ve learned more about how the fort was built, the activities that took place here and even how it was destroyed and abandoned.

"It is a fascinating location that deserves to be far more widely known and this new publication is a great place to start."

Matt Ritchie, Archaeologist with Forest Enterprise Scotland said:

"The wonderful thing about archaeology is that for all the forensic investigation and laboratory analysis, we still need to use our imagination to recreate the past. Was Dun Deardail – Derdriu’s fort – the home to an exiled Celtic celebrity, burned down when she returned home?"

As well as welcoming archaeological volunteers and schools to the site throughout the project, the team also arranged a well-attended annual heritage festival and open day, encouraging local people to engage with the project.

The wider Nevis Landscape Partnership also helped tackle the issue of erosion resulting from visitor footfall by securing several million pounds worth of path repair on the Ben.

The Dun Deardail Archaeology Project, designed in line with Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy, was funded by Forest Enterprise Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Nevis Landscape Partnership.

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of the Forestry Commission and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  3. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus bidh e a’ toirt seachad comhairle air poileasaidhean coilltearachd agus air riaghladh. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta as leth Ministearan na h-Alba.
  4. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  5. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6508 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.