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Archaeology Hebrides : Stac Dhomhnuill Chaim, Lewis

Hebridean Archaeological Sites

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Stac Dhomhnuill Chaim, Lewis

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Stac Dhomhnuill Chaim is situated near the village of Mangersta in Uig.

Oral tradition tells that it was once a hideout and fortress for the well-known outlaw and hero, Dhomhnuill Chaim MaCaulay who lived in the late 16th/early 17th centuries. It is a dramatically shaped stack, nearly 50m high, but only 20m in diameter on top, and is joined to the mainland via a 60m long knife-edge or spine of rock, which was originally passable as a small path - Donald's sister "Big Anne" is said to have carried large vessels of milk across this path for Donald when he was in residence. A similar refuge is said to have been used by Neil MacLeod, a friend and ally of Donalds, over on the island of Berisay.

In 1890 Captain F. W. L. Thomas:Stac described it as "quite inaccessible, except on the land side, where a narrow path leads up the steep brae. A wall, from 4 to 5 feet thick, defends it on the land side, in which, at the south end, there is a gap or gateway, 2 feet wide. The gate would be extremely dangerous to force, as the cliff is close in front of it. There are the ruins of a cottage, 18.5 by 10 feet interiorly, and the walls 4.5 feet thick, on the terre pleine of the rock, as also a sheep-pen attached to the wall."

Today the narrow path across the isthmus has all but gone, but the buildings can be seen clearly from the adjacent cliffs.

In 2006, a local descendant of Dhomhnuill Chaim visited the site in conjunction with the STAC (Severe Terrain Archaeological Campaign), and found a large piece of pottery, which has since been identified as early pre-historic, possibly Neolithic.

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SMR Database Entries

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has an extensive online Sites and Monuments Records database, with in-depth details about the historical, cultural and archaeological sites and monuments in the Hebrides. This site is featured in this database, and the list below gives links to read more. These links will open in a new browser window / tab.

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