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Broch (Iron Age)

Site Name Sallachadh

Classification Broch (Iron Age)

Alternative Name(s) Sallachy

Canmore ID 5069

Site Number NC50NW 1

NGR NC 5491 0922

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Lairg
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NC50NW 1 5491 0922.

(NC 5491 0922) Broch (NR).

OS 6"map, (1967)

The substantial remains of a broch standing on a knoll with walling building up the sloping site. It measures 31ft in diameter within a wall 15ft thick, standing to a height of 10ft to 12ft and well built of various sizes of stones. Only the east segment of the outer face is not exposed (OS {E G C}) The entrance 3ft 4ins wide, is on the SE and has been distorted by comparatively recent rebuilding and the lintels have been removed but a bar-hole is still visible, guard chambers lead off from each side, that on the right being particularly well preserved. In the interior of the broch the entrance to the mural staircase lies to the left of the entrance passage. An oval chamber occurs at the foot of the stair. The wall of an external enclosure springs from the south side of the broch and runs to a distance of 46' to the SE before swinging northwards round the east and north sides to rejoin the west side.

RCAHMS 1911; A Young 1964; Visited by OS (E G C) 20 June 1963.

This broch is as described by previous authorities. Attached to the south side is a fairly modern, subrectangular enclosure, now ruined, which overlays, or partially overlays an outwork which extended around the S, E and NE sides. This outwork is largely obscured by tumble, but here and there, two or three courses of the outer face are exposed. No inner face can be seen, and there is no evidence of the outwork having continued around the west side of the broch.

Re-surveyed at 1:10 000.

Visited by OS (N K B) 3 September 1976.


Laser Scanning (9 October 2007 - 10 October 2007)

NC 5491 0922 As part of a research project into broch architecture, and the Knowledge Transfer Project (a collaborative research project between AOC Archaeology Group and the University of Nottingham) a laser scan survey was undertaken at the broch of Sallachy, Lairg, Sutherland. On 9–10 October 2007 16 scan stations were taken to provide coverage of the structure at an average net resolution of 10mm.

Archive to be deposited in RCAHMS.

Funder: AOC Archaeology Group/University of Nottingham.

Publication Account (2007)

NC50 3 SALLACHADH (‘Sallachy’)

NC/5491 0922

Well preserved solid-based broch in Lairg, Sutherland, standing on a small shallow rock knoll on the west bank of Loch Shin, about 100ft above the water and at the foot of the long slope down to the loch (visited 11/7/63 and 8/7/85).

The interior was cleared out some time before 1909 but no records of this have been found; grass-grown mounds of stony debris lie outside and on either side of the main entrance and are evidently the debris from the interior. However there are still large piles of rubble in the central court so it may not have been cleared down to floor level. Thus the amount of wall concealed by the rubble is uncertain.

Much of the outer face is still concealed by debris, although a good view of the stump of the tower is to be had from the top of the nearby slope. Although the interior wall is exposed to a height of between 2.4 and 2.7m (8 and 9ft) no scarcement ledge is now visible; the upper part of both faces has been rebuilt – to a height of about 1.2m (4ft) in places –in an inferior style of masonry. This is confirmed by the appearance of the ruin from a distance; the wallhead is quite level.

The entrance passage is on the south-east and has been largely cleared; it is about 4.5m (15ft) long but the outer end does not seem to have been fully exposed. There are two cleared guard cells opening off it, their opposed doorways being 2.64m (8ft 8in) from the exterior; each has a sill 51cm (20in) above the passage floor. The doorway to the right guard cell has been crudely re-built, as has the entrance passage, presumably by the excavators; any traces of the door-frame were presumably obscured by this work. The left guard cell is a corbelled chamber which is still largely intact. A bar-hole was noted in 1963 [1]. There are no traces of openings in the interior wallface except for the doorway to the cleared mural stair at 8.30 o'clock, which is 51cm (20in) above the floor inside.

A stair-foot guard cell has also been exposed and as usual opens to the left of the door; it is 2.85m (9ft 4in) long and one lintel (lying radially to the broch) is still in position over the passage. The stair rises to the right and seven steps were preserved at the time of the Commission's visit, some of which can still be seen. There are no traces of intra-mural galleries on the wallhead, presumably because of the re-building activities.

The Commission detected projecting stones – possibly signs of a partly corbelled scarcement – at three places on the inner wall and at a height of nearly 2.7m (9ft) [2]. These can no longer be seen, doubtless because the wall has collapsed to below that level since that time, but in any case the 'scarcement' is unlikely to be original since it must have been well above the re-built level, which is still obvious.

There are signs of an outer wall 14m (46ft) from the broch and south-east of the entrance, which appears to curve in to meet the broch in both directions further round.

Dimensions (author's measurements): external diameter (assuming the walls to be 4.5m or 15ft thick), about 18.9m (63ft) :internal diameter 9.9m (33ft): wall proportion approximately 47.5%.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC 50 NW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 135-36, no. 392 and fig. 55: 3. Young 1962, 185.

E W MacKie 2007


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