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Record details

ID:MHG1659
Type of record:Monument
Name:Keiss Broch
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(photo by Andrew Puls)  © Highland Council(photo by Andrew Puls)  © Highland Council(photo by Andrew Puls)  © Highland Council(photo by Andrew Puls)  © Highland Council(photo by Andrew Puls)  © Highland CouncilDistant view of pillbox and Keiss Broch (photo by Sylvina Tilbury)  © Highland Council
Grid Reference:ND 3531 6108
Map Sheet:ND36SE
Civil Parish:WICK
Geographical Area:CAITHNESS

Monument Types

  • BROCH (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Associated Finds

Other References/Statuses

  • Historic Environment Record: MHG1659
  • NMRS NUMLINK Reference: 9318
  • NMRS Record Details: ND36SE2 KEISS BROCH
  • Non-Statutory Register (V)
  • Old SMR Reference Number: ND36SE0002

Full description

Harbour Mound, Keiss, ND36SE0002

The results from the late nineteenth century excavation of this broch suggest that it was rebuilt on several occasions. The original seaward facing entrance, with its huge triangular lintel, was blocked and replaced by another one. However in the last phase of use, the outer wall was rebuilt, the second entrance blocked and the first one re-opened. (57)

The inside of the broch had a sequence of paved floors, on top of which a layer of rubbish had built up, before the next floor was laid. Overall, the rubbish from the occupation of the broch, was 2.1m deep. It included two sherds of second century AD Roman pottery, which was probably made in France. (56)

(11.5m/2.4m)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
RCAHMS. 1911. Caithness. Edinburgh: HMSO, 154-5, No. 515.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

Keiss Broch is as described by the previous field investigator.
Visited by OS (N K B) 22 July 1982.

Keiss Broch (NR) OS 1:10,000 map, (1973)

Classification of Roman material. A S Robertson 1970.
ND36SE 2 3531 6108.

This broch has been severely mutilated, and seaward entrance is no longer apparent although entrance on NE can still be traced. The internal scarcement and the rebuilt outer wall are evident only in N segment, and 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 and 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 building mentioned by Anderson appear to be relatively modern.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (R D) 14 September 1965.

Keiss Broch originated as 1st phase broch - 1st centuries BC and AD - and was subsequently modified and re-used about 2nd century AD, and again about the 3rd century AD.
2nd century re-occupation involved blocking of original seaward-facing entrance and creation of another on NE. 3rd phase of occupation involved rebuilding of outer wall, blocking of NE entrance and re-opening of original entrance, also building of an internal scarcement. During this phase, or possibly later, interior of 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 scarcement, except on N where it stood 8ft high. On the exterior the maximum height was 5ft 6ins.
Excavation by Sir Francis Tress Barry produced, among more usual broch finds, two fragments of 2nd century Samian ware and sherd of 3rd century Rhenish ware. Finds, which were unstratified, are in NMAS.
Feachem (1963) notes remains of what might have been a primary outwork a short distance to NE of broch. Anderson notes the foundations of a large rectangular building a little to S of the broch. This is probably analagous to those at the 'Road Broch' (ND36SW 1) and 'Whitegate Broch' (ND36SE 3).
A Young 1964; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910; R W Feachem 1963; J Anderson 1901.


Samuel Laing, M.P., F.S.A. SCOT., 1867, 'On the age of the "burgs" or brochs and some other prehistoric remains of Orkney & Caithness.', PSAS Vol. 7 1870, p.56-100, 56-100 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG3040.


Anderson, J, 1901, 'Notices of nine Brochs along the Caithness coast from Keiss Bay to Skirza Head, excavated by Sir Francis Tress Barry, Bart., MP., of Keiss Castle, Caithness', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 35 1900-1, p.112-48, 127; plan (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1296.


RCAHMS, 1911, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness, 154-5, No. 515; plan (Text/Report). SHG2664.


Feachem, R W, 1963, A guide to prehistoric Scotland, 164 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2187.


Young, A, 1964, 'Brochs and duns', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 95 1961-2, p.171-98, 180-1, 197 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG293.


Robertson, A S, 1970, 'Roman finds from non-Roman sites in Scotland', Britannia Vol. 1 1970, p.198-226, table 2 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1444.


Hartley, B R, 1972, 'The Roman occupations of Scotland: the evidence of samian ware', Britannia Vol. 3 1972, p.1-55, 54, No. 3 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1714.

Related Monument/Building records - none

Related Investigations - none

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