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Broch Of Redland

Broch (Iron Age), Carved Stone (Period Unassigned), Club (Weapon) (Stone)

Site Name Broch Of Redland

Classification Broch (Iron Age), Carved Stone (Period Unassigned), Club (Weapon) (Stone)

Alternative Name(s) Steeringlo

Canmore ID 1982

Site Number HY31NE 12

NGR HY 3780 1715

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

HY31NE 12 3780 1715.

The site of the Broch of Redland or Steeringlo is marked by a slight elevation, about 50ft above sea-level, in a cultivated field some 200 yds from the east side of the Finstown-Rendall road, about half a mile due east of the farm of Redland. The site was, at one time (J Fraser 1927), in a peat moss that was probably a swamp or shallow loch when

the broch was erected. Excavated in 1858 by Farrer (G Petrie 1873), the broch-wall was only 9ft thick, enclosing a space 27ft in diameter. Sufficient of the wall remained to show the encircling gallery, 2ft 6 ins broad, between an outer wall 3ft 6 ins thick and an inner wall 3ft thick. At one point the broch-wall, evidently beginning to bulge, had been propped up by a rudely built facing, one of the building-stones of which, 17 ins long by 10 ins wide by 7 ins thick, had sculptured on its larger end a spiral line of four turns, outer diameter over 6 ins. The stone is in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS). (PSAS 1868 (Donations); J Y Simpson 1868 (Appendix) Near the centre of the court was a partly rock-cut well.

The site was surrounded by a moat, outside which was a circular ring of stones, about 5ft apart, but of no great dimensions.

The structure was completely demolished about the year 1874 and, since then, the ground has been regularly cultivated. At the time of the visit (18 August 1928) a well-made handled stone club was picked up on the site. It is now in the NMAS.

A symbol stone is said to have come from the neighbourhood of the broch (see HY31NE 15).

(The comparative thinness of the walls suggests that this structure may be a galleried dun, rather than a broch)

RCAHMS 1946.

The site marked by a circular, grass-covered mound, known locally as the Broch of Redland. It measures about 22.0m in diameter by c.0.8m in height. The area is no longer cultivated, and is reverting to marsh.

The mound is surrounded for the most part by a wide grassy bank c.0.3m. high, which is most prominent on the NW and S sides. On the NW side it rises to a height of c.0.7m over a distance of about 40.0m The bank may represent the outer edge of the moat. No sign of the circle of stones was seen.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS(RL) 9 June 1966.

'The Orkney Herald' describes the ongoing excavations at Redland Broch in 1862.


Publication Account (2002)

HY31 16 REDLAND (‘Broch of Redland’, 'Stirlingo')


This is the site of a solid-based broch near Stirlingo, Firth, which was excavated by Farrer in 1856 or 1858 [5, 62] and was almost completely destroyed about 1874. The ground has since been under cultivation but is was a peat moss at the time of the excavation, and may have been a shallow loch in Iron Age times [3]. Petrie made some sketches of the building at the time of excavation [5, 63, fig. 3.11] but the broch plan shows almost nothing.

On excavation the broch was found to be smaller than usual, 13.7 m (45 ft.) in overall diameter with an internal diameter of 8.2 m (27 ft.) and a wall 2.7 m (9 ft.) thick: the wall proportion is thus 40.0%. The wall was 9 ft. thick. A partly rock-cut well with steps leading down to it was found in the central area and Petrie sketched a cross section of this [5, 63, fig. 3.11]. The broch is said to have been surrounded by a moat.

A mural gallery 2 ft. 6 in. wide (not shown in Petrie’s sketch) was observed running round the wall at the time of the excavation. Graham (1947; 61) suggested that it may have been a basal gallery, a view supported by Hedges [5, 64]. However Petrie says that “when exposed, the walls of this broch were of sufficient remaining height to show the encircling gallery, which was 2.5 ft. in breadth, the wall outside the gallery being 3.5 ft. thick, and the inner one 3 ft. in.” [3]; this may mean that the gallery was an upper one and that the structure was a solid -based broch. The wall had begun to bulge outwards in ancient times and appeared to have been shored up by a “rudely built facing” [2].

Finds: parts of a stone quern and a stone vessel were found, as well a piece of red pigment (perhaps haematite) [3] and a stone “club” [4]. A stone incised with a spiral was found in the secondary construction built against the outer wall face.

Sources: 1. OS card HY 31 NE 12: 2. Petrie 1890, 84-5 and 87: 3. Petrie 1927, 53: 4. RCAHMS 1946, 2, no. 320, 91: 5. Hedges et al. 1987, 62-4.

E W MacKie 2002

Geophysical Survey (July 2009)

HY 3780 1715 Students from Orkney College, under the supervision of staff from the Orkney College Geophysics Unit (OCGU) undertook three days of geophysical surveys at Redland in July 2009. The work consisted of gradiometer, earth resistance and topographical surveys. A few lines of GPR and ERT were also carried out over the mound.

The gradiometer results were magnetically quiet, which suggests that this was not an area of intensive settlement and therefore highly unlikely to have been a broch. Although it is known that the monument was situated in bog until relatively recently, the lack of magnetic enhancement seems unlikely to have been caused by water logging and suggests a non-domestic function. In contrast, the earth resistance data reveals a stone-built circular structure within the mound, thought likely to be a chambered cairn or similar non-domestic feature. Topographic survey demonstrated that the site mound is very regular and is surrounded by a ditch

and a bank. The size and regularity of this feature may also support the idea that this site is unlikely to be a broch.

Archive: OCGU

Funder: Orkney College, UHI

Mary Saunders – Orkney College Geophysics Unit

Resistivity (May 2010)

HY 3780 1715 In May 2010 students from Orkney College,

under the supervision of staff from ORCA Geophysics,

carried out a 0.16ha earth resistance survey using twin,

double dipole and wenner electrode arrays. The results from

all arrays showed a circular high resistance anomaly. This

probably related to a substantial stone structure measuring

c20m in diameter with c4–5m thick double walls and is

architecturally very similar in appearance to a broch. Gaps

recorded in the outer wall may reflect areas of collapse;

however, it is also possible that one may indicate the location

of an entranceway, although no corresponding gaps were

recorded in the inner wall at any of these locations. An area

of lower resistance surrounding the circular structure may

reflect a ditched feature or topographic variation around the

building. The linear moderately high resistance anomalies

visible running approximately NE–SW around the building

are likely to correspond to modern drains.

Archive: ORCA Geophysics

Funder: Orkney College, UHI


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