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Broch (Iron Age), Settlement (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Site Name Burrian

Classification Broch (Iron Age), Settlement (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Canmore ID 1607

Site Number HY21NE 17

NGR HY 2888 1538

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Sandwick
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

HY21NE 17 2888 1538.

(HY 2888 1538) Burrian {NR}

O.S.6" map, Orkney, 2nd ed., (1903).

The remains of this probable broch, of which the eastern half has been completely removed, are so ruinous and overgrown that details can be obtained only with the greatest difficulty.

A small segment of the outer wall survives on the S., 8 ft long by 4 ft high, with the usual batter. The over-all diameter was probably 60-65 ft, with walls 13 or 14 ft thick.

Some irregularities of the surface suggest either a wall partially surrounding the broch, or associated out- buildings.

Underground chambers, human bones, deer horns and ashes have been found during partial excavations. (Name Book 1880).

RCAHMS 1946; New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845 (C Clouston)

Burrian, a long, low mound, 2.0 m. maximum height, contain- ing the mutilated remains of a broch at its NE side, and situated on a low peninsula on the west shore of the Loch of Harray, is generally as described by the Commission, except that the broch walling is reduced to a height of 0.4 m. A possible section of broch walling is exposed in the eastern slopes of the mound, and several large stones, on top of the mound and inside the broch, are set on edge.

Disturbed ground to the SW of the broch may indicate possible outbuildings - no trace of a wall partially surrounding the broch was seen. This area contains numerous large stones protruding through the turf, forming no set pattern.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 18 May 1966.


Publication Account (2002)

HY21 3 BURRIAN 2 (HARRAY) ('Burrian, Loch of Harray')


Very ruinous, probable broch in Sandwick,

situated on a low promontory on the west side of the Loch of Harray; it was apparently partly excavated before 1880 but no further information is available [6, 86]. Most of the east half has apparently been removed but a small segment of the curved outer wall face, with the “usual batter”, was noted on the south in 1928 [3].

Dimensions: the diameter was from 18.3- 19.8 m (60-65 ft.) and the wall 4.0 - 4.3 m (13-14 ft.) thick. There are faint suggestions of an outer wall or of outbuildings. A quern “of Pictish type” was recovered from the loch nearby [2].

Sources: 1. OS card HY 21 NE 17: 2. Fraser 1924, 25: 3. RCAHMS 1946, 2, no. 680, 253-4: 4. Hedges et al. 1987, 86: 5. Clouston 1841, 54-5: 6. Fraser 1924, 25..

E W MacKie 2002


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