Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Due to scheduled maintenance work by our external provider, background aerial imagery on Canmore may be unavailable

between 12:00 Friday 15th December and 12:00 Monday 18th December


Carn Mor, Birchfield

Broch (Iron Age)

Site Name Carn Mor, Birchfield

Classification Broch (Iron Age)

Canmore ID 12495

Site Number NH49NE 3

NGR NH 4903 9926

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Kincardine (Sutherland)
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NH49NE 3 4903 9926.

(NH 4903 9926) Carn Mor (NR)

OS 6"map, Ross-shire, 1st ed., (1875)

Carn Mor, a large cairn according to the 0NB, an uncertain broch according to Graham (A Graham 1949), and a much ruined broch according to Watson (W J Watson 1904). In 1888 it stood 5-6 ft high, and the overall diameter was about 65 ft. (R Pococke 1887)

Name Book 1875

Carn Mor, a broch, surviving as a mound of tumbled stones, about 2.0m high, on a low natural knoll. The outer wall face can be seen on the S side for a length of 12.0m and a maximum height of 3 courses (See Illustration Card) with traces of the inner face in the same arc indicating a wall thickness of 4.3m. All other details are obscured by tumble or destroyed by robbing from the E.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500 (Visited by OS (R D L) 24 May 1963)

Visited by OS (N K B) 30 September 1969

Carn Mor (NAT) Broch (NR) (remains of)

OS 6"map, (1969)

The broch is as described. An overall dimension of 16-17.0m diameter is estimated.

Visited by OS (J M) 27 October 1976


Field Visit (10 September 1943)

Broch (probable), Birchfield.

This monument, noted as a cairn with the name ‘Cairn Mor’ on the 6-inch OS map, stands on a slope at the edge of the cultivated fields, above the haughs of the Oykell, at about 175 ft above sea-level. The site is about 150 yds N of the highway, and a quarter of a mile W of the entrance to the avenue of Birchfield. It consists of a mound of stones measuring 66 ft from N to S by 80 ft from E to W and showing much evidence of disturbance; in particular there is a shallow depression in the summit, and clear signs of rushed stones extending under the turf well beyond the limits of the exposed debris as measured. Within the E sector of the depression a concave stretch of masonry appears, one or two courses in height and measuring 9 ft 6 in along the chord; measurements of the curvature of this arc suggest that it is part of circle only 16 ft in diameter, but too much importance should not be attached to this point owing to the dilapidated state of the masonry and the large error that might have been introduced through the slipping out of place of even one or two of the stones on which the calculation was based. No remains of structure survive apart from this stretch of facing, but there are large numbers of straight-sided slabs – evidently building-stones – scattered among the debris. It can be said with confidence that this monument is not a chambered cairn, and there is every likelihood that it is a broch.

Visited by RCAHMS (AG) 10 September 1943.

OS 6"map, Sutherland, 2nd ed., (1907)

Publication Account (2007)

Square NH49

NH49 1 CARN MOR 2 ('Birchfield')

NH/4903 9926

This probable broch in Kincardine, Sutherland, survives as a mound of tumbled stone and was once considered to be a cairn [1]. The outer wallface, showing to a maximum height of three courses, can be seen on the south side for a length of 12.0 m; traces of the inner face in the same arc suggest that the wall is 4.3m thick here [1]. No other details are now visible among the rubble.

However in his comments on Bishop Pococke's tour of the area in 1760, Kemp says that in 1887 the inside of the “Birchfield broch” was "still standing, 5 or 6 feet in height and 33 feet in diameter."; he also says that "The outside diameter was about 65 feet." [3, 113, f.n. 4], though no source is given for these statements. If this was the second site mentioned by Boece early in the 16th century as standing near the Dornoch Firth ("There are preserved, in a certain valley in Ross, two edifices of antiquity, monuments of a round shape, made in the form of bells." (See NH68 1), It might be thought that reference was being made to the two brochs in Glen Beag, near Glenelg (NG81 2 and NG81 3); though now in western Inverness-shire the border with Ross-shire is only a few miles to the north of the glen. However Boece’s reference to the town of Tain makes it clear that they were on the Dornoch Firth (see Dun Alisaig)) then Carn Mor 2 may also have been a high tower just under five hundred years ago. However it is not clearly marked as 'Dun' on Pont's map (see the entry for Dun Alisaig – NH68 1) [4] even though the place names of the nearby farms are recognisable there. The second bell-like tower may in fact have been Leachonich (NH68 2) below.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NH 49 NE 3: 2. Graham 1947, 96: 3. Kemp (ed.) 1887: 4. Stone 1991: 5. Watson 1904, 19.

E W MacKie 2007


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions