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Publication Account

Date 1995

Event ID 1016756

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/event/1016756

This spectacular broch stands on the valley floor near the river, a position offering no apparent defensive advantages. About one third of the wall still stands to a height of some 10.10m, and only the broch of Mousa in Shetland is better preserved.

The outer wall of the broch tapers inwards as it goes up in the characteristic 'cooling-tower' profile. The base of the wall is largely solid, but above this there are still four galleries and part of a fifth. The double wall construction, bonded together by slabs forming the ceiling of one gallery and the floor of the next, can be seen in the broken ends of the wall.The entrance has one door check and a good barhole. A cell opens off the entrance passage to the right. Inside to the left is a doorway leading to a cell with corbelled roof on the left, and a stairway on the right, with seventeen steps remaining. The rest of the stair is lost for it runs into the fallen part of the wall, but it may well have led to a passage or landing, as at Dun Troddan (no. 84) with a door onto the upper floor, before continuing up to the wallhead.

This broch has two scarcement ledges, and the upper one some 8.90m above the floor is a unique survival, not found anywhere else. It possibly supported a conical thatched roof completely covering the interior.

The first gallery, level with the floor carried on the first scarcement ledge, has carefully finished walls and was obviously used, if only for storage, but the walls of the other, narrower galleries are extremely rough with sharp stones sticking out. Above the entrance door a series of apertures or voids in the inner wall are carried up to the present top of the wall. This was, at least in part, a design to lessen the weight on the lintel over the door. Another set of voids starts high in the wall and there was originally a third set above the stair door. These puzzling voids did not give access to the galleries, for they are crossed by many lintels with only narrow gaps between, but they would have admitted air and may have helped to ventiate the galleries and stop them getting damp and smelly. Among the objects found in the broch when it was cleared out in 1914 were three stone ramps, used with oil and a floating wick, several rotary quernstones and some spindle whorls.

Outside the door to the broch are further structures built of very large blocks, including an outer entrance with passages leading off right and left round the broch. This may be part of an outer wall which once surrounded the whole broch, forming an enclosure with houses in it. However the rectangular structure with very thick walls to the left of the entrance could be considerably later than the broch and not necessarily of the same date as the outer entrance.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).

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