[Rubh’ an Dùnain] is . . . an open time-capsule waiting to be examined
– Martin Wildgoose,
Sowing the seeds of a new community
Formally protected as an Historic Monument by the Scottish government in 2017, Rubh’ an Dùnain continues to generate international interest. Historians, archaeologists and students of Gaelic and Celtic heritage – as well as a curious public – want to understand more about this mysterious and beguiling land.
Archaeologists believe that, until the middle of the 1800s, this now-forgotten settlement had been in continuous occupation for perhaps 5000 years. The enthusiasm, knowledge and persistence of experts like Roger Miket, Adam Welfare, Martin Wildgoose and Dr David Macfadyen has delivered a solid foundation of knowledge which deserves now to be further developed.
In this section, Dr Colin Martin, the eminent marine archaeologist who has been leading recent research at the site, introduces the latest thinking about the landscape and Professor Hugh Cheape of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig explains the role Gaelic language and culture can play in deepening our understanding of the past.
As worldwide interest in Skye grows, Rubh' an Dùnain itself is stimulating fresh ideas. A new piece of performance art involving designers, photographers and musicians from four countries, was filmed in 2019 at various locations on the island, chosen because of the Viking harbour connection with Rubh' an Dùnain.
There is a palpable sense that Rubh' an Dùnain, empty today save for the sheep, the curlew and the oystercatcher, could once again deliver a thriving community – at least online. It contains aeons of undiscovered history; it is steeped in the language and culture of the Gael, the Celt and the Viking; it boasts wild natural habitats and unparalleled scenery – all of which have enormous potential for the historian, the scientist, naturalists and scholars of all ages.
Time then now to consider its future . . .