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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


Scotsburn House

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Fort (Prehistoric), Outworks (Prehistoric)

Site Name Scotsburn House

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible), Fort (Prehistoric), Outworks (Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 14578

Site Number NH77NW 6

NGR NH 7148 7616

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Logie Easter
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NH77NW 6 7148 7616.

(NH 7148 7616) Dun (NR)

OS 25" map, (1968)

In cleared woodland on a grassy eminence which is bordered by a ravine in the W and by natural slopes in the S, is a dun, within a sub-circular outer defence, augmented by additional outworks to the NNW at the easiest approach.

It measures c. 13.0m in diameter between the centres of a mutilated rubble wall, surviving to a maximum height of 1.0m internally and 2.0m externally, spread to c. 7.0m wide. No wall faces can be seen, and the small size of the stones suggests a timber-laced construction. An outcrop is incorporated in the wall in the SW. The entrance is in the NNW. Within the dun is a depression choked with stones; it may have been a well.

The outer defence, enclosing an area c. 35.0m in diameter, survives in the W as a ruinous wall spread to c. 2.5m, with occasional facing stones visible suggesting a wall thickness of c. 2.0m, and elsewhere as a stony scarp c. 2.0m maximum height. The entrance is in the NNW, coincident with the dun entrance. The base course of the outer wall face can be seen at the foot of the scarp to the E of the entrance, and three inner facing stones in the roots of a tree suggest that the wall was about 6.0m wide at this point. The W side of the entrance is formed by the wall turning outwards then back to the SW to end on the brink of the ravine. Outer facing stones are visible intermittently for about 8.0m. The outermost defence in the NNW protecting the entrance is another ruinous wall commencing at the ravine and running parallel to the inner defence for a distance of c. 40.0m before petering out. There are indications that it may have continued to encircle the dun, but this is uncertain. There is an ill-defined break opposite the other entrances. In the NE and SE are two depressions, probably later quarry scoops. ISSFC 1902; Visited by OS (N K B) 23 November 1970.

Photos and records held by G Mortimer, Bothwell Rd, Hamilton, Lanark. letter written July 1985.


Field Visit (October 1978)

The remains of what is probably a broch stand 600m WSW of Scotsburn House. It measures 6m in diameter within a wall spread to about 7m in thickness. The broch is surrounded by an outwork, and on the W there are two additional ramparts and ditches.

Visited by RCAHMS October 1978

Sources: ISSFC 1902; DES 1969, 46-7; DES 1970, 45

Field Visit (October 1978)

Scotsburn House NH 714 761 NH77NW 6

The remains of what is probably a broch stand 600m WSW of Scotsburn House. It measures 6m in diameter within a wall spread to about 7m in thickness. The broch is surrounded by an outwork, and on the W there are two additional ramparts and ditches.

RCAHMS 1979, visited October 1978

(Transactions of the Inverness Scientific Society and Field Club, v, 1895-9, 361-2; DES, 1969, 46-7; DES, 1970, 45)

Field Visit (10 March 1981)

Undoubtedly this defensive work can be considered as a broch based on its size and shape, but the total absence of any exposed facing stones and structural details, and the incorporation of rock outcrop in the wall suggests that it is more likely to be a dun. Only rubble stones are visible, hence the suggestion that the wall may have been timber-laced.

Visited by OS (N K B) 10 March 1981.

Excavation (8 July 2014 - 31 July 2014)

NH 71480 76160 (NH77NW 6) As part of the Northern Picts Project surveys and excavations have been undertaken from 2012 to 2014 on six Atlantic roundhouses on the Tarbat Peninsula, to track the nature of settlement in this landscape in the first millennium BC to AD. Work was undertaken at this site from 8–31 July 2014.

The monumental roundhouse at Scotsburn House occupies a spur of land on the southern edge of a natural terrace at c120m OD. The site sits on a steeply sloping summit of a low hill that overlooks the land surrounding Nigg Bay on the N shores of the Cromarty Firth. Immediately to the W is a steep ravine leading to the Balnagown River and to the N are the hills of Strath Rory on which the hillfort of Cnoc An Duin, c2km to the SE, lies. The roundhouse is strategically located at the end of the Strath, a major route westward and at the base of the largest hillfort in Easter Ross. Prior to excavation the upstanding remains of a large thick-walled dry-stone walled

roundhouse could be identified on the summit of the hillock, previously referred to as both a broch and a dun (RCAHMS 1979). Encircling the house is a series of well preserved outworks, which include a stone enclosure wall that surrounds the roundhouse, which in turn is flanked by two earthen

banks and ditches which can each be traced to the edge of the ravine. A break in the outworks at the N indicates the likely position of an entrance through the enclosures. Due to heavy vegetation and extensive piles of rubble, the exact dimensions of the house and its walls or location of its entrance has yet to be identified, but is c15m.

A 20 x 2m long evaluation trench was positioned across the outworks and the wall of the roundhouse. The wall of the roundhouse was not excavated but the upper surface was exposed by de-turfing and removal of loose rubble. The wall was 4.2m wide and consisted of an inner and outer wall with a probable intra-mural void, c1m wide, located between them. Between the wall of the roundhouse and enclosure wall a 7m wide area with well preserved evidence of extra-mural activity surrounding the roundhouse was exposed. The foundations of two thin dry stone walls were partially exposed, a linear wall running almost parallel to the roundhouse wall and a curvilinear structure with a flagstone floor. Cobbled surfaces, thick layers of charcoal-rich occupation deposits and extensive areas of daub and turf suggest that these walls are the stone bases of turf and timber structures. A mortar stone was recovered from the surface of

one of the occupation horizons between the structures, along with extensive deposits of burnt grain. Between the enclosure wall and the inner earthen bank was a 3m wide heavily ironpanned metalled surface. Rutting and repeated repair on its surface suggested it was a well used route into the complex. Between the inner and outer bank and beyond the outer bank two rock-cut ditches showed signs of re-cutting and shoring

with stone-slab revetting. Other indications of an extended period of occupation of the enclosed areas beyond the house was the repair and remodelling of the enclosure wall on two separate occasions and the consolidation of both earthen banks with stone revetting.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: University of Aberdeen Development Trust in partnership with the Tarbat Discovery Centre

Candy Hatherley, Aoife Gould and Gordon Noble – University of Aberdeen

(Source: DES)

Measured Survey (20 April 2015 - 21 April 2015)

Site surveyed at a scale of 1:500 using plane-table, self-reducing alidade and dGPS.

Visited by RCAHMS (GFG) 20-21 April 2015.


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