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Keiss Broch

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Keiss Broch

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Wic 103; Keiss South

Canmore ID 9318

Site Number ND36SE 2

NGR ND 3531 6108

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

ND36SE 2 3531 6108.

(ND 3531 6108) Keiss Broch (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1973)

Keiss Broch originated as a 1st phase broch - 1st centuries BC and AD - and was subsequently modified and re-used about the 2nd century AD, and again about the 3rd century AD.

The 2nd century re-occupation involved the blocking of the original seaward-facing entrance and the creation of another on the NE.

The 3rd phase of occupation involved the rebuilding of the outer wall, the blocking of the NE entrance and the re-opening of the original entrance, also the building of an internal scarcement. During this phase, or possibly later, the interior of the broch was divided by slab structures and paved at varying levels, while externally various sprawling enclosures were created.

In 1910, the broch wall survived internally to a height of about 5ft, the height of the scarcement, except on the N where it stood 8ft high. On the exterior the maximum height was 5ft 6ins.

Excavation by Sir Francis Tress Barry produced, among the more usual broch finds, two fragments of 2nd century Samian ware and one sherd of 3rd century Rhenish ware. The finds, which were unstratified, are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

Feachem (1963) notes the remains of what might have been a primary outwork a short distance to the NE of the broch. Anderson notes the foundations of a large rectangular building a little to the S of the broch. This is probably analagous to those at the 'Road Broch' (ND36SW 1) and 'Whitegate Broch' (ND36SE 3).

J Anderson 1901; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910; R W Feachem 1963; A Young 1964.

This broch has been severely mutilated, and the seaward entrance is no longer apparent although the entrance on the NE can still be traced. The internal scarcement and the rebuilt outer wall are evident only in the N segment, and the southern gallery can still be traced with a possible cell alongside, together with the remains of several internal structures, the form of which could not be ascertained. The external enclosures are now greatly mutilated. Midden material is evident in an around the walls. No trace could be found of the primary outwork to the NE, mentioned by Feacham. Now in an undulating pasture field. The foundations of the building mentioned by Anderson appear to be relatively modern.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (R D) 14 September 1965.

Classification of Roman material.

A S Robertson 1970.

Keiss Broch is as described by the previous field investigator.

Visited by OS (N K B) 22 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: NMS.

A Heald and A Jackson 2000


Project (1980 - 1982)

Aerial Photography (1991)

Archaeological Evaluation (July 2006)

A single evaulation trench was excavated across the wall of the Keiss Harbour broch in July 2006. The trench measured 8.75m long by between 1-3m wide, and encompassed both the interior and exterior of the broch. A secondary wall was revealed on the interior. No internal or external surviving in situ deposits were found.

A Duffy 2006


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