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Broch (Iron Age)

Site Name Feranach

Classification Broch (Iron Age)

Canmore ID 6680

Site Number NC82NW 1

NGR NC 8441 2730

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes ( - 1977)

NC82NW 1 8441 2730.

(NC 84412730) Broch (NR)

OS 6"map, (1962)

The remains of a broch, consisting of a wall 15'6" thick containing a stair gallery and four mural chambers as well as a guard chamber off the entrance passage on the west. The wall stands to a height of 7' to 8' externally and is visible for a height of 7' above the internal debris which chokes the courtyard and the chambers. There is no evidence of outworks having existed.

(Summary from RCAHMS 1911)

A broch as described and planned by the RCAHMS. The wall is 4.2m wide at the entrance narrowing to approximately 3.6m. The courtyard is about 11.0m in diameter.

Visited by OS (JB) 1 February 1977


Field Visit (7 March 1991)

This broch is situated towards the leading edge of a slight terrace on the N side of the Strath na Frithe and enjoys extensive views to the W. It measures 11m in diameter within a wall 3.4m in thickness, which is built of roughly squared blocks up to 1m across, and stands up to 2.5m in height. The entrance, which is on the W, is about 1.2m in height; a door-check is visible and there is a guard-chamber accessed from the S side of the entrance passage. There are five intra-mural chambers and traces of an intra-mural stair in the longest of the chambers on the N-NE. There are entrances to the chambers on the N and NW from the court; that to the NE has an opening into the court above the entrance. The interior is choked with rubble and the structure has been robbed, in particular on the E.

(KILD91 28)

Visited by RCAHMS (DCC) 7 March 1991.

Publication Account (2007)

NC82 2 FERANACH NC/8441 2730

This is a well-preserved broch of the rare transitional type, albeit of unusual design, in Kildonan, Sutherland. It is about two miles above the junction of the rivers Helmsdale and Frithe, situated on the side of the Strath of Kildonan, 30.5m (100ft) above the river. There are several features in Level 2 which confirm that the structure is a hollow-walled broch. The interior wallface survives to a height of about 2.14m (7ft) above the debris which may be 0.9 - 1.2m (3 - 4ft) deep; the outer face stands up to 2.14 - 2.44m (7 - 8ft) in places.

The entrance is on the west, 4.73m (15.5ft) in length, 76cm (2.5ft) wide at the outer end and with door-checks 1.68m (5.5ft) from the outside. The passage then widens to 1.19m (3ft 11in), narrowing again to 1.07m (3.5ft) at the inner end. Five lintels are in position 1.07m (3.5ft) above the debris, and a sixth lies on the ground in front. The innermost lintel appears to be part of the scarcement running round the interior wallface [3]. A guard cell opens off the right side and measures 1.83 by 1.53m (6 by 5ft); the doorway to this cell is not apparent but its lintel may just be visible [3].

There are five other intra-mural cells, at about 4, 2, 12.30, 8.30 and 7 o'clock; the one with its doorway at 8.30 is 10.8m (36ft) long and could be classed as a gallery; it may contain the mural stair [2] but any steps are invisible under rubble. There are traces of an upper gallery on top of this with three lintels of the lower visible on the east, at 12 o'clock [3]. This upper gallery has openings to the interior at 8.30 o'clock (on top of the doorway to the lower level, which can only be seen from the intra-mural space) and at 11 o'clock; both these openings must be well above the level of the scarcement, which should be hidden under the rubble [3]. Swanson suggests that it is unlikely that a stairway can be here if it is founded at ground level because it could not have cleared the corbelled roof of the cell at 12 o'clock; however if it started to rise immediately clockwise of the doorway at 8.30 o'clock there would probably be enough room.

Over the lintel of the doorway to the elongated cell at 7 o'clock are two super-imposed lintels forming a void. The lower lintel projects 0.5m forward from the upper and suggests that it is part of the otherwise buried scarcement [3]. The three cells in the south-eastern and southern arc are normal small, elongated chambers with rounded ends.

There are no signs of outworks or anything else around the broch.

Dimensions: interior diameter c. 11.0m [1]; wall thickness (at entrance) 4.73m. The wall proportion may thus be about 46%.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC 82 NW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 106 - 07, no. 314 and fig. 36: 3. Swanson (ms) 1985, 803 - 06 and plan: 4. RCAHMS 1993.

E W MacKie 2007


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