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Allt An Duin, Skelpick

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Allt An Duin, Skelpick

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Canmore ID 6265

Site Number NC75NW 6

NGR NC 7235 5752

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NC75NW 6 7235 5752.

(NC 7235 5752) Broch (NR)

OS 6"map, (1964)

The remains of a broch impressively situated on a rocky knoll towering about 100 feet about the plain. It measures 8.4m in diameter within a wall 4.2m broad and about 3m high internally. The outer face is visible to a height of 1m to 2m for almost the whole circuit. A ledge-type scarcement can be seen on the inner wall face (MacKie 1975). The entrance passage, which is said to be 0.6m wide, and to curve southwards (RCAHMS 1911) is still indentifiable in the NW, one of the roofing lintels being exposed in situ (MacKie 1975), Miss Young (1964) notes a triangular lintel-stone lying outside the entrance and so dates the broch to the 2nd to early 3rd centuries AD. She also notes that it is defended by an earth and stone bank (RCAHMS 1911).

At the foot of the slope of the knoll on the east are three 'huts' 3m to 4m in diameter and a rectangular building, all later than the broch (OS 6"map, 1964).

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; A Young 1964; E W MacKie 1975; Visited by OS (J L D) 2 May 1960.

A broch with outworks generally as described by the previous authorities, except that it measures internally 9.0m E-W by 8.2m and the wall varies in width from 6.4m in the S to 3.8m in the E. (The marked increase in wall width in the S is probably due to the appreciable slope upon which the wall is built in this arc.) The entrance in the W arc is well-defined; no guard chambers are apparent. Within the broch on the N. side, the scarcement mentioned by MacKie can be seen.

The summit of the hill appears to have been scarped, and two discontinuous lines of stones in the W probably demarcate the entrance approach to the broch. At the base of the scarp in the east is an outer defence comprising a wall revetted on its inner side by large stones visible intermittently. There are traces of a further outer wall or bank below the broch on the NW side. To the N is a pond with a dam at its W side, this and the "huts" and 'rectangular building' are later than the broch.

Visited by OS (J B) 20 December 1978.


Publication Account (2007)

NC75 2 ALLT AN DUIN 1 (‘Allt a' Chaisteal')

NC/7235 5752

This probable broch in Farr, Suther-land, stands on top of a high and steep conical rock knoll overlooking the fertile valley of the river Naver (visited 9/7/63 and 19/7/85). The slope down towards the river from the broch is steep and difficult but less so on the other side where it descends to higher moorland. The site is about a mile from the river and curiously situated in that there are one or two eminences of rock down in the valley, and much closer to the farmland at the bottom, which would have made suitable broch sites. The broch is built of lumps of igneous or metamorphic rock and the collapsed debris effectively conceals its structural features.

The entrance is on the north-west and a very large and thick triangular rock lies on the turf in front of it; it was probably the front lintel. A long flat thinner stone, probably another lintel, lies displaced behind it, suggesting the onetime presence of a chamber over the entrance. The entrance itself is 5.34m (17.5ft) long and there is a door-check, made from an upright slab, on the right and about 1.6m from the outside. A clear ledge-type scarcement is visible on the inner wallface on the east side (opposite the river) and is about 15cm (6in) wide. There are no signs of mural galleries.

There are obvious signs of a secondary wall against the interior face from about 6 to 12 o'clock and again at about 3.30 o'clock. It is distinct from the scarcement ledge yet seems to join the left side of the entrance passage without a break. This suggests that one side at least of the entrance was re-faced – an unusual arrangement which might explain the apparent absence of the left door-check.

There are faint traces of a stone structure on the west side of the terrace outside the broch, and of another on the east; part of a stone wall can be seen in a gully to the north-west of the broch. These are all shown on Swanson's plan [6].

Dimensions (authors measurements): from 6-12 o'clock, external diameter 20.13m (66ft), internal diameter 9.61m (31.5ft): from 9-3 o'clock, 20.13m (66ft) and 9.91m (32.5ft): the wall proportion is therefore 51.5%. A different set of measurements [1] give 8.4m for the internal diameter and 4.2m for the wall thickness: the wall proportion would then be 50.0%.

Sources: l. NMRS site no. NC 75 NW 6: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 60-1, no. 182: 3. Young 1962, 185: 4. MacKie 1965, 221: 5. Stuart 1867, 296: 6. Swanson (ms) 1985, 716-19 and plan: 7. Close-Brooks 1995, 31.

E W MacKie 2007


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