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Dun Eistean the Ancestral Morrison Stronghold… Click for Full Sized Pictures!

Posted on March 27, 2011

This is what is left of the one time Clan Morrison stronghold called Dun Eistein ("Dun Esh-ten", possibly from Eystein a common Viking name), the family which held the hereditary Brieveship (judge, guardian, and interpreter of old Celtic Brehon laws) at Habost in the Isle of Lewis under the Lords of the Isles (independent Viking/Gaelic rulers of the West coast of Scotland). The Dun (Gaelic for a fort) is a "sea stack" - an elevated area similar to a mesa or outcrop which is isolated from the mainland of Lewis by the sea at high tide; at low tide the Dun is accessible by foot. The sea stack was probably occupied long before the Morrisons became a clan possibly Celtic time and later Viking age, but it became the base and stronghold of the Clan Morrison until the clan system came to an end.

An artists impression to give a rough idea of what the place looked like hundreds of years ago

I will let the info board do the talking and explaining but as you can see from the map Dun Eistean is a sea stack.

Walking over the bridge and looking down you can see the gap that separates the sea stack from the mainland, at high tide this is covered by the sea.

Seagulls nesting on the stack where the old gatehouse used to be guarding against anybody trying to climb the cliff.

Crossed the bridge and standing on Dun Eistean looking towards the mainland.

Same seagulls nesting on cliff face where the gatehouse would have been, section B on the info board.

Looking towards the remains of the main tower or keep, section G on the info board. This tower and the stack is depicted on the crest of the Clan Morrison.

The tower on this badge is believed to be the tower that used to be on Dun Eistean. The motto of the Morrisons is "Teaghlach Phabbay" which means 'Pabbay Family'. Pabbay is a small island at the north end of the Sound of Harris, now uninhabited.










The tower, or what is left of it, now covered in grass.

Part of the stonework on a corner, the structure was rectangle shaped and maybe have been 3-4 meters high. It may have been a look out tower keeping an eye on approaching boats.

View looking North from the remains of the tower.

View looking East

Looking East at one of the rock outcrops.

View from the remains of the tower looking back towards the bridge that crosses to the mainland.

From here you can see the water pool, what is left of the defensive wall, ruins of turf and stone dwellings, and remains of the kiln house where barley was stored.

Pond for water E on the info board. Defensive wall H1 on info board. Settlement area D on info board. Barley drying kiln C on info board.


This may have been the ravine where the Morrisons hauled up their boats from the sea, there are remains of building at the top of the ravine. This is section F on the info board.

The two pictures above are of carvings of the 'Birlinn' type of boat that was used for hundreds of years by the clans in the Isle of Lewis including the Morrisons. The Birlinn is a Norse-Gaelic variant on the Norse longship, it was clinker built for strength and flexibility same as longships, could be sailed (or rowed for speed), and used for the transport of men, great sea battles, clan feuds, and raids. The top picture is taken from a carving from the tombstone of Macdufie, who died in 1539, and the lower picture is from the tomb of Alasdair Crotach MacLeod (1528 CE) in St Clement's Church at Rodel, on the Isle of Harris.

Closer view of the water pond, there looks like there is a small spring that seeps into the pond. Having a source of water would have been useful in a fort.

Close up of ruins of the settlement area section D on the info board.

Close up of the remains of the kiln that stored barley section C on the info board.

View from defensive wall at settlement area D and H1 on the info board.

View from the road leading to Dun Eistean.

The road leading to Dun Eistean is a 3/4 mile dirt track from the main road.

View Larger Map

Other posts that have a connection to Morrisons...

Nicholsons Leap - click for full sized pictures

Tallest Standing Stone in Scotland - click for full sized pictures


Comments (52) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Great pictures and dialogue will be sending to my sons

  2. I would love to visit this as it is my heritage. I can just feel it. i will visit it one day (soon). So far away but yet I feel as if it is a place I know, uncanny.

  3. I’m not Scots, but the village and the area where i live was settled by Scots of Lewis Isle .
    One of them was Donald Morrison who was the most wanted man in the history of Canada.
    Today we ( some of the villages) created a museum in honnor of Donald Morrison and the people of Lewis and Scotland.
    We honnor their memory and hardship in settling in the new world.

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