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Broch (Iron Age)

Site Name Everley

Classification Broch (Iron Age)

Alternative Name(s) Tofts Of Freswick, Can 057

Canmore ID 9300

Site Number ND36NE 6

NGR ND 3699 6828

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

ND36NE 6 3699 6828.

(ND 3699 6828) Broch (NR) (remains of)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

Everley Broch was excavated by Sir Francis Tress Barry. It had an internal diameter of 29ft and a wall thickness of 15ft 6ins. Only 3 1/2ft of the wall remains and there was no sign of any chambers in 1910. The outbuildings were not excavated. As well as the usual quern stones etc, a small piece of 1st century Samian ware, and a fragment of a 1st century Roman amber glass vessel used as an amulet, were recovered during the excavation. These are now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS). A handled stone cup is also reported from the site.

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910; A Young 1964.

The broch is now visible as a circular grass-covered bank 4.4m wide by 1.0m high, with traces of the inner wall face in the N, NW and S. The W segment of the broch has been almost completely destroyed, and only the amorphous remains of possible outworks could be seen on the S and W. A grass-covered mound, almost square on plan, in which traces of stonework can be seen, lies on the E side of the broch. The name could not be verified and the handled stone cup could not be located.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (R D) 9 September 1965.

Classification of Roman material.

A S Robertson 1970.

No change to the previous field report.

Visited by OS (J B) 12 July 1982.

ND 3 6 (area) As part of a wider study of Iron Age Caithness, the broch settlements at Everley (ND 3699 6828), Keiss Harbour (ND 3531 6108), Keiss Road (ND 3488 6151), Whitegate (ND 3541 6120), Skirza (ND 3940 6844), and Hillhead (ND 3762 5140) were recorded by total station survey in June 2000. Aspects of the artefactual assemblage uncovered during 19th-century excavations by Laing and Tress Barry were also studied.

Sponsor: National Museums of Scotland (NMS).

A Heald and A Jackson 2000

ND 3699 6828 During July and August 2002 work continued at Everley mound (NO36NE 6), a site previously investigated by Sir Francis Tress Barry at the end of the 19th century. The focus was on re-excavating a possible Atlantic roundhouse, a part of the external settlement and a Late Norse building. Re-excavation is part of a wider analysis of work undertaken by Barry on various Iron Age structures. The project also involves re-analysis of artefact collections and survey of upstanding remains.

Limited re-excavation revealed that the roundhouse had been heavily robbed since Barry's work, the wall surviving only to three courses in places. Excavations in the interior showed that Barry stopped at an arbitrary level; he did not reach primary deposits, although our work suggests that such remaining deposits do not survive to any great depth. Interior furnishings, such as a hearth and paving, were also found, together with untouched deposits containing pottery and stone objects. Excavations on other parts of the mound revealed a ?Late Norse building and a ?14th/15th-century rectilinear building.

Excavations and geophysical survey have allowed a better understanding of Barry's excavation methodologies and an assessment of the deposits he excavated. Everley was a large and long-lived site, with the potential to provide new insights into the character of the Iron Age, Late Norse and post-medieval periods.

Sponsors: NMS, University of Edinburgh - Dept of Archaeology, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Highland Council, Russell Trust, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Catherine MacKichan Bursary Trust.

A Heald and A Jackson 2002


Project (1980 - 1982)

Publication Account (2007)

ND36 3 EVERLEY ND/3699 6828

Probable solid-based broch in Canisbay, Caithness, situated on flat ground. It was excavated by Sir F Tress Barry in 1897 when it was a substantial mound; much of it has since been removed by being quarried for stone. Very little information about the first excavation is available apart from the basic dimensions of the building, although some unusual Roman finds were recovered. The site was re-excavated in 2002 and 2003 by Andy Heald on behalf of the National Museums of Scotland (the work is part of a wider project to re-examine the Iron Age of Caithness by a new survey of brochs sites, by selective excavation, and by examining afresh the finds from the old excavations) and much more is now known about it [6, 11 and 12].


The main entrance, on the west-south-west, was 92cm (3ft) wide at the exterior with door-checks 2.44m (8ft) in at which point the passage was 81cm (2ft 8in) wide; the gap between the checks them-selves was only 46cm (18in), unusually narrow. A photograph shows that these were stone slabs set at right angles into the walls. Thereafter the entrance widened to 1.14m (3ft 9in) and to 1.22m (4ft) at the inner end. The height of the broch wall when excavated was not more than 1.07m (3.5ft) and there were no signs of internal doors, intra-mural chambers or stairs in the surviving masonry.

The modern excavations were design to re-examine the “Atlantic roundhouse” [11] , part of the external settlement and a late Norse building. They revealed a broch which, though it had been severely robbed in the intervening one hundred and four years, still had part of its primary floor level intact. These deposits, untouched by Tress Barry, yielded pottery and artifacts.

Finds from Tress Barry’s excavation [4]

Bone objects included 2 pins, 1 needle of 'Iron Age A' type (that is, with a point above the eye) and 8 boars' tusks.

Stone objects included 2 lamps (one a half only), several other oval stone vessels one of which is definitely a lamp, (The lamp, with a wick holder, is shown with the drawings and can be seen near the bottom in the photograph) 1 handled stone cup, 2 whetstones, several hammer-stones, 4 slaty stone discs 5-10cm (2-4in) in diameter, 1 sandstone disc, diameter 4.5cm (1.75in), 5 stone whorls, several querns, presumably the rotary form (only mentioned by Anderson [2]) and half of a rough jet disc. The lower stone of a quern is clearly visible in the photograph, as also is (on the left) a fragment of an upper stone of the rare Traprain type, with a lateral handle groove defined by raised ridges. The photograph also shows what looks like a cup-marked stone (lower left).

Pottery: several sherds, type unspec-ified.

Roman material: 2 fragments of Samian ware, 1 fragment of the hollow rim of a Roman glass bowl, pale yellow-green in colour. The decorated Samian fragment is a late Antonine (mid 2nd century) vessel probably of Dechelette form 72 with barbotine decoration [7, 8]. The glass bowl rim is from a rare ribbed vessel – either a jug (Isings form 52b) or a bowl (Isings form 67c) [9, 70 and 88]; both are thought to have been made in the Seine/Rhine area between about AD 70-160 (I am very grateful to Dr Dominick Ingemark for this information). The only other native sites in Scotland to have yielded this type of vessel are two brochs far away to the south – Leckie in Stirlingshire and Torwoodlee in Selkirk.

From the new excavations: these have not yet been published in detail but the pottery is remarkably similar, in shape and ware, to the grey ‘Orkney jars’ found at Crosskirk (ND07 2).

Dimensions: internal diameter 8.845m (29ft), wall 4.423m (14.5ft) [2] or 4.728m (15.5ft) [3] thick: the average external diameter is therefore about 17.96m (59ft) and the wall proportion is about 50.8%.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 36 NE 6: 2. Anderson 1901, 142-3: 3. RCAHMS. 1911b, 16, no. 36: 4. Proc Soc Antiq Scot , 43 (1908-09), 15 (finds): 5. Young 1962, 183: 6. A. Heald in Discovery and Excavation Scotland 2002: 7. Hartley 1972, 55: 8. Robertson 1970, Table II: 9. Isings 1957: 10. Swanson (ms) 1985, 558-59: 11. Heald and Jackson 2001: 12. A Heald and A Jackson in Discovery and Excavation Scotland 2002, 64-5.

E W MacKie 2007


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