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Bridge Of Lyth, Hill Of Works

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Bridge Of Lyth, Hill Of Works

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Canmore ID 8842

Site Number ND26SE 2

NGR ND 2903 6255

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

ND26SE 2 2903 6255.

(ND 2903 6255) Hill of Works (NAT)

Broch (NR)

OS 6" map (1970)

Hill of Works broch has an internal diameter of 29ft and a wall thickness of about 13 ft and has apparently had no guard chamber. It stands to a maximum height of 4ft in the interior and 2ft 6 ins on the exterior.

In the central court is a well, to which steps descend, and portions of flags protrude through the covering of vegetation. A secondary wall projects from the internal wall of the broch at the end of the entrance passage.

A concentric wall runs around three-quarters of the circumference of the broch, at a distance of 3 to 4ft, terminating on the WSW and SSE at the ends of approaching passges. The remaining segment has been faced with a scarcement.

At a distance of 26ft from the broch on the N and 50ft on the S is an encircling ditch about 45ft wide. It survives to a depth of 10 ft on the N, is less well defined on the S, and has disappeared on the W.

The broch was excavataed by Sir Francis Tress Barry in 1900, producing fragments of coarse hand-made pottery, some of which, together with other finds from the broch, are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS). Lying on the floor of the mural chamber were the remains of two skeletons.

The area between the broch and the ditch does not appear to have been explored.

Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1904; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1909; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

The Hill of Works broch, situated in a small copse, is generally as described above. The steps to the well are no longer discernible, and only vague traces of the concentric wall, 1.0m from the broch, can still be seen. No traces of the scarcement around the S periphery of the broch could be found. Outside the ditch in the N, there is a semicircular earthen bank, 0.8m high.

Immediately S of the broch are several heaps of stones, probably spoil from the excavated site.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 15 September 1965

Hill of Works broch, which is becoming increasingly obscured by vegetation, is as described by the previous authorities except that the scarcement in the S is now evident, with the top of the broch's outer face above it visible as a slight change of slope.

Visited by OS (JB) 6 May 1982

Broch, 'Hill of Works'. Diameter: 70m. Excavated monument 2m high with much facing visible. Entrance lies on the WSW.

R J Mercer, NMRS MS/828/19, 1995


Publication Account (2007)

ND26 7 HILL OF WORKS ('Barrock Broch') ND/2903 6255

This probable solid-based broch in Bower, Caithness, stands on flat ground. It was excavated in 1900 by Sir F Tress Barry and the only available account of the work is that compiled by the Royal Commission. Barry's plan is reproduced here. A much more recent plan of the still visible remains was made by Swanson [5]. Some trees grow on the site but the broch is still well preserved [5].

The main entrance is on the west-south-west and is 3.97m (13ft) long, 1.02m (3ft 4in) wide at the outer end with a pair of door-checks 2.4m (8ft) from the exterior. From the plan these seem to have been built, rather than made from projecting slabs on edge; however the masonry in this area is now broken down [5]. The passage behind them is 1.2m (4ft) wide.

A mural cell was at 8 o'clock and may have contained the stair, though this is not marked on the plan; this is a common position for a broch stair. The remains of two skeletons (presumably human) were found on its floor. Swanson observed another break in the inner face at about 2 o'clock which she thought might be another doorway [5], even though the original plan does not show one.

A well with steps leading down into it was found in the floor in front of this cell and slightly clockwise from it and there are various flagstones on edge in the interior which might be secondary. A line of masonry continues the right side of the entrance into the interior for 2.1m (7ft). The maximum height of the wall at the time of excavation was 1.2m (4ft).

There seems to have been a concentric face of masonry around the outer face of the broch, forming in effect a long curved passage around the structure. Another long passage containing a sharp bend, presumably secondary, leads to the main entrance and also connects with the concentric passage. Yet another passage leads outward from the latter at about 2.30 o'clock; part of the concentric wall can still be traced, as can the lines of the approach passages [5]. An outer ditch can still be traced running two thirds of the way round the broch, 7.9m (26ft) from it on the north and 15.25m (50ft) on the west; it is obliterated elsewhere. No doubt there were outbuildings between the ditch and the broch but they do not seem to have been explored. A stony rampart lies beyond the ditch [5].

Dimensions: internal diameter 8.85m (29ft), external c. 16.47m (54ft), so the wall proportion is about 48%. Swanson gives the internal diameter as 8.6m [5].

Finds [3]: these include 4 sandstone whorls; 1 handled stone cup [3] and the basal half of 1 large pottery vessel similar to those found at Keiss North (ND36 5) [2].

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 26 SE 2: 2. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 38 (1903-4), 252 (find): 3. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 43 (1908-9), 17 (finds): 4. RCAHMS 1911b, 1-2, no. 3 and fig. 1: 5. Swanson (ms) 596-99 and plan.

E W MacKie 2007


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