Until the 1970s, Kilpatrick was thought to be the remains of a cashel wall, an Irish form of early Christian monastery. Excavations have revealed it to be a complex site with several stages of occupation. It includes:
- a Bronze Age short-cist
- a circular structure above the cist, believed to be an Iron Age dun
- a turf bank, joined to the dun and probably post-medieval in date
The dun is 16.8m wide with a wall up to 4.6m thick, with at least one chamber. The cist below the dun’s floor level suggests this was once the site of a burial cairn, or a cairn was perhaps rebuilt as a dun in the Iron age.
The turf bank, or cashel wall, is about 120m by 130m, or enclosing an area of about 2.1 hectares. It incorporates a series of small rectangular structures on its south-east side.
A historic landscape
Two hut circles lie to the west of Kilpatrick Dun enclosure, and at least another three circles can be found to the east. Further east is a multi-phase Bronze Age kerb cairn.
The surrounding landscape has been farmed since at least the Bronze Age, 4,500 years ago. Further archaeological remains certainly lie beneath the peat that formed here during global cooling in the first millennium BC.
Kilpatrick Dun is one of several prehistoric monuments on Arran’s west coast. It lies a few miles south of Auchengallon, a kerbed cairn previously interpreted as a stone circle, and the prehistoric landscape at Machrie Moor.