Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Broch Of Houlland

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Broch Of Houlland

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Canmore ID 766

Site Number HU35SW 3

NGR HU 3449 5388

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Administrative Areas

  • Council Shetland Islands
  • Parish Sandsting
  • Former Region Shetland Islands Area
  • Former District Shetland
  • Former County Shetland

Archaeology Notes

HU35SW 3 3449 5388.

(HU 3447 5388) Brough of Houlland (OE)

O.S.6"map, Shetland, 2nd ed.,(1903).

The remains of a broch, now reduced to foundation level and so much overgrown that it is not easy to trace even the periphery of the outer wall, but the over all diameter would appear to have been 55' 6". Outside there has been an irregular stony rampart of no great width or height, which has been much robbed. On the east side it has been entirely removed.

RCAHMS 1946. Visited 1931.

The Broch of Houlland, 15.7m in diameter, generally as described by the RCAHMS The alleged outer rampart appears more like a field wall, and from it run several low field banks. It cannot be ascertained whether these are contemporary with the broch, as they also connect with walls associated with the nearby croft. There are vague traces of outbuildings around the broch.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS(NKB) 7th June 1968.

HU 3449 5389 As a result of damage caused during refurbishment of an electricity line, two small trenches were opened up on the summit of a broch mound at Tumblin during May 1998.

The broch is visible as a mound, 16m in diameter. Large stones and boulders protrude from the mound, which is pitted with a number of depressions where it appears to have been robbed of stone. The broch mound was disturbed in the 1970s when the original electricity line was erected and again in May 1998 when the redundant wooden pole and metal stay were removed. Overall, the site is in good condition. The purpose of the excavation was to record the sections and assess the level of disturbance.

Evidence from both Trench 1 and Trench 2 allowed the development of the site to be divided into four phases, the final three of which were post-abandonment.

Trench 1: Phase I represents the possible remains of a wall that may have formed part of a structure built some time after the middle of the Iron Age after the broch had fallen out of use. Protruding from the N- and W-facing sections were four large stones that appeared to be part of a structure. Each overlaid the

end of the stone next to it, forming a line that was slightly curved. Any other structural remains were either destroyed when the pit was dug or extended beneath the sections. There was no dating evidence for the structural remains.

Trench 2: Phase I in this trench revealed a short linear section of wall that was orientated E-W. On the SE side, the face of the wall, at least 1m thick, was clearly defined. Behind it, a number of large stones may have been a less well-constructed or rubble core. If it survived, the other side of the wall did not come within the boundaries of the trench. The wall remains probably belong to a structure that was built after the broch was abandoned. This is supported by the fact that the wall does not follow the alignment of the broch walls.

Twelve pot sherds were found in Trenches 1 and 2, all characteristic of Iron Age pottery. Trench 1 also produced a loomweight, and six fragments of oyster shells were found in Trench 2. All the small finds were found in the fills of the modern pits and therefore were residual. The finds indicate that this disturbance was restricted largely to features from the late Iron Age and damage to the broch was limited.

There is a possibility that the wall remains in Trench 2 are related to the structural remains in Trench 1, as they share a similar alignment. However, the remains differed in character and appearance, with the wall being much more substantial.

Sponsors: Balfour Kilpatrick, Shetland Amenity Trust.

A Purdy 1998


Publication Account (2002)

HU35 3 HOULLAND ('Broch of Houlland', 'Tumblin')


Probable broch in Sandsting. Traces of a circular building remain, with a diameter of about 16.93 m (55 ft. 6 ins). The supposed outer rampart [2] is probably a field wall [1].

In 1998 two small trenches revealed various fragments of walling which seemed to post-date the broch; Iron Age potsherds were also found [3].

Sources: 1. OS card HU 35 SW 3: 2. RCAHMS 1946, vol. 3, no. 1396, 101: 3. Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1998, 84-5.

E W MacKie 2002


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions