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Greystell Castle

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Greystell Castle

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Graysteil Castle; Loch Rangag

Canmore ID 8273

Site Number ND14SE 4

NGR ND 1795 4167

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Latheron
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Caithness
  • Former County Caithness

Archaeology Notes

ND14SE 4 1795 4167.

(ND 1795 4167) Greysteil Castle (NAT) Broch (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

The bare ruins of a broch, about 69ft in overall diameter, with a wall 14 to 15ft thick, and 12ft in maximum height, occupy a spit of land. The base of the exterior is visible at several points. The entrance, from the landward side, is ruined beyond recognition, but has had a guard chamber on the right, the back wall of which is visible. A mural chamber, 11ft long by 5ft wide, is exposed in the N wall.

An 8ft thick wall, concentric with the broch, and about 26ft from it, curvess across the neck of the spit. Through its centre, a passage 6ft wide and walled on either side, leads to the broch entrance.

The ruins are known as 'Greysteil Castle'.

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

'Greysteil Castle' is a broch with an outwork situated on a probably partly artificial peninsula on the E side of Loch Rangag.

The broch survives as a mound of partly turf-covered debris spread to 20.0m diameter and about 4.0m maximum height. There are several outer facing-stones in the S and W arcs but none are visible elsewhere, although the overall diameter appears to have been between 18.0 and 18.5m. The inner face can be traced intermittently giving an internal diameter of 9.0m but as this is at the top of the mound it probably represents the diameter above the scarcement. The guard chamber on the N side of the debris-filled entrance passage in the E and part of a mural chamber in the NW, are as described by the RCAHMS. The base of the

broch mound is encircled round the W half by the remnants of a modern stone wall.

The curving outer wall appears to spring from the broch wall in the N and S. It is boulder-faced and varies in width between 3.3m in the N and 2.0m at the central entrance where the outer face is exposed to a height of two courses. The space between this entrance and the broch entrance is spanned by a boulder-flanked approach about 6.0m long and 2.0m wide. Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (I S S) 21 April 1972.

Greysteil Castle, a broch with outworks, is as described in the previous field report. The existence of a raised beach about 0.5m above the present surface of the loch indicates beyond doubt that the peninsula upon which the broch stands was formerly an island, and may have been a crannog. On the landward side of the present isthmus is a heather-covered bank in which some stone is exposed. It is about 1.0m average height and 3.0 to 4.0m wide, and extends N-S for a distance of 26.0m, protecting the landward approach. Some 11.0m from the N end of the bank is a gap, with a turf-covered causeway extending from it across the isthmus to terminate on the outwork, but not at the entrance. Either this causeway is contemporary with the broch and the outwork later, or the broch and outwork were built at the same time and the causeway served an earlier structure, ie. a crannog.

Visited by OS (N K B) 6 December 1982.

Scheduled as 'Graysteil Castle,... Loch Rangag,... the remains of a partially-excavated broch.'

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 18 October 2006.


Publication Account (2007)


ND/1795 4167 (visited 22/7/63)

This probable broch in Latheron, Caithness, stands on the east shore of Loch Rangag on a low spit of land projecting into the water. The structure is built of irregular blocks of igneous or metamorphic rock and is unexcavated so that little can be seen but a mound of stones. A few facing stones of the outer face are visible in the south and west arcs, suggesting an overall diameter of 21m (c. 69ft).

The inner face can be traced inter-mittently, suggesting an internal diameter of 9.0m (29.5ft) [1], but as this is at the top of the mound it probably represents the dia-meter above the scarcement. The wall would appear to be from 4.27-4.58m (14-15ft) thick. The entrance faces east, towards the shore, and there are traces of a guard cell on its right. The Commission noted a mural cell on the north about 3.3m (11ft) long and 1.5m (5ft) wide [2]. A curved outer wall 2.4m (8ft) thick, concentric with the broch and about 7.93m (26ft) from it, crosses the neck of the short promontory; there is a 1.8m (6ft)-wide gateway through it.

A recent report [1] mentions a raised beach about 0.5m above the present surface of the loch and implies that the promontory on which the broch stands was formerly an island, and may have been a crannog. There are indications of a stone causeway leading from the broch to the shore along the isthmus, and which appears to be earlier than the outwork wall. The possibility thus exists that the causeway belongs to an earlier crannog on which the broch was built, or that broch and causeway are contemporary and the promontory wall is later.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 14 SE 4: 2. RCAHMS 1911b, 60-1, no. 222.

E W MacKie 2007


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