Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

We will be making some essential changes to our website hosting which will affect our websites from Friday 6 – Monday 9 December. During this time, this website will not be available.

We thank you for your patience while we work to improve the stability of our websites. For further updates, check our Twitter @HistEnvScot.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

Shapinsay, Broch Of Steiro

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Shapinsay, Broch Of Steiro

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Canmore ID 3066

Site Number HY51NW 10

NGR HY 5019 1635

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

HY51NW 10 5019 1635.

(HY 5020 1635) Ancient Building (NAT) (Site of)

OS 6"map, Orkney, 2nd ed.,(1900).

On a rocky bank overhanging the beach are the very scanty remains of a broch, known as the "Broch of Steiro" It has been almost totally destroyed by the sea and appears to have had an overall diameter of about 60ft.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 1928

The remains of a broch at HY 5019 1635. The name "Broch of Steiro" is no longer known. Only the NE arc survives under a turf-covered mound. The inner face is visible in the shore line for a length of 11.0m and a maximum height of 1.2m, and one or two stones of the outer face visible in the E give a wall thickness of 3.6m. Within the wall, 0.7m inside the inner face, are two fragments of another built face, which seems to be for stabilizing purposes rather than part of a gallery. Within the broch, against the inner face, is a slab on edge set at right angles to the face.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS(AA) 3 October 1972

A fragment of the NE arc of the circuit of a broch tower survives in a now severly sea-eroded mound (it suffered heavy damage in the gale of February 1984). The exposed inner face shows a scarcement measuring 0.6m in width, as well as a rubble-filled opening at the same height, which may have given access to a stair or gallery. On the E side, the broch wall, (here 3.6m thick below scarcement level), is cut by a secondary wall that must have been built after the broch tower had been substantially dismantled. On the W side of the mound there are traces of outbuildings and a severely truncated naust.

Name Book 1880; RCAHMS 1946; 1987, visited July 1984


Orkney Smr Note (July 1984)

The two inward-facing wall-faces recorded by OS are the

inner face of the broch wall below and above a scarcement 0.6m

wide. At the central point of the surviving arc there seems to

be an alcove set back into the wall at scarcement level, possibly

the access to a gallery or stair. the edge-slab mentioned by OS

has gone and the site has suffered severely in the SE hurricane

of February 1984. There are traces of outbuildings on the W side

where an edge-slab is exposed in the shoreline. There is a

much-truncated naust built against the W edge of the mound. On

the E side of the surviving arc, the broch's main wall is cut by

a secondary curved wall indicating that the broch tower must have

been substantially dismantled when this was built. E from here

outside the broch is exposed a solid paved floor, laid directly

on natural clay and with rubble above it.

Information from Orkney SMR (RGL) Jul 84.

Publication Account (2002)

HY51 2 STEIRO ('Broch of Steiro')


Probable broch on Shapinsay I., consisting of scanty remains on the rocky bank overhanging the beach below; the building has almost been completely destroyed by the sea, but an arc of masonry of the inner wall face survives on the north-east, suggesting an overall diameter of c. 18.3 m. A scarcement is reported on this [4] which is why the site is classed as 'probable'. On the east side there is a second wallface against the interior of the building and apparently cutting it; the broch would have to have been substantially demolished before this was done [4]. A few stones of the outer face suggest a wall thickness of 3.6 m [1]. There are traces of outbuildings on the west.

Sources: 1. OS card HY 51 NW 10: 2. RCAHMS 1946, 276, 2, no. 779: 3. Hedges et al. 1987, 120: 4. Lamb 1987, 11.

E W MacKie 2002


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions