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Field Visit

Date 20 August 1909

Event ID 1095760

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


25. Broch, Castle Cole or Caisteal na Coille. This is perhaps the most picturesquely situated broch in the county. It. occupies an almost impregnable position on the left bank of the Blackwater, about 2 m. above the junction of that stream with the River Brora. Below a gorge where the Blackwater has cut its way through cliffs which rise to a height of 70' or 80' is an isolated rock, precipitous towards the river, which flows past it on two sides, and steep to landward. From the moorland in rear of it, it is cut off by a gully down which a small stream flows. On this rock stands the broch. It is entered from the ESE. through a passage 12' 10" in length, 2' 8" in width at the exterior end, and 3' 6'' in the interior. At 5' in from the outside is a rebate of 6” on either side for a door, and 4' 8" further in is a similar rebate 8" wide. On the right of the passage beyond the first door check, but at what exact distance is uncertain owing to the ruin of the wall, was the entrance to a guard chamber. It led through a passage some 4' in length, one lintel of which at the inner end, measuring 3' 7" in length, still remains. The chamber, which is largely filled with debris, measures, as far as exposed, 5' 8” in length by 5' in breadth. Two lintel slabs remain in position at the exterior end of the entrance to the broch, and the height of the doorway at present is about 5'. The broch is circular in the interior, with a diameter of 21'. Towards the SW., above the river, the wall has entirely disappeared to the foundation, which is 12' across. On the N. the wall is 8' high, which is the greatest height in the interior, and on the exterior the greatest elevation is towards the E., where it is 10' high. At its greatest height the wall is 10' in thickness. There are remains of a chamber in the thickness of the wall visible 6' from the back wall of the guard chamber. The upper part only is exposed above the debris with which it is filled and is 4' wide; its length is unascertainable. At a point 11’ 6” back from the inner end of the entrance on the S. side and 4' in from the interior, the wall of another chamber is visible among the ruins. Neither of the entrances to these chambers remains apparent. At 6' to the left of the entrance on the interior is a recess on the present ground level 2' square, and at intervals in the interior about the same level are four other small square recesses, measuring three of them respectively 1' 4" across, 1' 6", and 9". Where the wall has fallen away there are indications of another, and above the first two recesses from the right of the entrance are others measuring 1' x 10". The third and fourth recesses from the right of the entrance are at 6" higher level than the other two. The base of the rock on the landward side has been protected by a wall running for a part of its length along the top of a rocky outcrop.

A small portion of it is visible at the SE. and towards the N. A similar wall appears to have encircled the summit (fig. 1 and Pl. I.).

See Antiquaries, xv. p. 310 (plan); Anderson, The Iron Age,

p.85 (illus.); Agriculture of Sutherland, p. 170 (illus.); New Stat. Acct. Suth., etc., xv. p. 154; The Scottish Gael, i. p. 17.

OS 6-inch map: Sutherland Sheet lxxxviii.

RCAHMS 1911, visited (AOC) 20th August 1909.

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