In 1997 David Gilmour, the chairman of CMSNA (Clan Morrison Society of North America), was approached by society members seeking information about the Morrison Dun (fort) at the Butt (tip) of Lewis. They inquired about the ruins and the site’s history. David communicated with the Chief, who was also interested in the topic, and he, in turn, contacted archaeologists at the University of Glasgow.
While nothing is known about the man who gave his name to the dun, Eystein was a common Nordic name. Located in the townland of Cnoc Aird, Dun Eystein is a natural island stronghold situated at the Ness, or northern extremity, of the island of Lewis. It is separated from the mainland by a precipitous ravine 12 metres deep and wide. At high tide, the sea floods the ravine and isolates Dun Eistein from the mainland. The island is a steep sided plateau with the remnants of buildings and a defensive wall on the landward side.
The CMSNA subsequently raised US$33,000, and launched an investigation of the site. The first phase (in the year 2000) involved a preliminary survey of the island that focused on the the Dun, the stone wall which originally faced the mainland, and the other stone habitations on the island.
The second phase, in May-June, 2001, consisted of a Geophysical Survey of the Dun. In 2002 a road to the Dun was completed, and a footbridge was constructed to link the Dun to the mainland.
The University of Glasgow’s results can be found at http://www.guard.arts.gla.ac.uk/projects/duneistean.html
Comunn Eachdraidh Nis
Ness Historical Society:
Another web site which may be of interest is that of the Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar (Ko-air-le nan Eel-ian She-ar), the Council for the Western Isles. This is the local governing body which oversees the Western Isles, including Lewis. Their web site is at
Also on of our own Clan Morrison Australia members has shared a link to some wonderful photos of his trip to Dun Eistean (Eistein). You can view them here.