MHG10047 - Carn Bran Broch, Creag Riabhach


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Type and Period (1)

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

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Full Description

Carn Bran, Glen Loth, NC91SW0002

Brochs are round, tower-like houses, their monumental size intended to display the wealth and status of the agricultural communities who lived in them. They were occupied in the later Iron Age and occur frequently in the north and west of Scotland. (41)
At first glance this broch is simply a huge pile of stones. On closer examination, the line of outer wall face and entrance passage, still partly roofed and with a cell on either side, is visible. A scarcement, on which an upper wooden floor would have rested, can also be traced intermittently.
The scale of this broch is reinforced by its position in one of the narrowest parts of Glen Loth. The approach to the broch, along the narrow strip of flat land above the river, could have been easily controlled and this is likely to have been important to its occupants.
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
Gourlay, R., 1996. Sutherland. An Archaeological Guide. Edinburgh: Birlinn.
RCAHMS. 1911. Sutherland. Edinburgh: HMSO, 161-2, No. 468.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

NC91SW 2 9420 1220.

(NC 9420 1220) Carn Bran (NAT) Broch (NR)

Carn Bran. The broch is a mass of debris about 12 feet high. The diameter overall is about 55 feet, the thickness of the wall about 12 feet, and the interior diameter from 31 to 32 feet. Though only the top of the wall is visible here and there, beneath the ruins it may stand for a considerable height. On the SE 18 feet distant from the broch, are the remains of an outer wall, about 8 feet in thickness. It probably encircled the broch, except along the river bank, but on the north and NW it is no longer visible.
T Pennant 1774; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909.

Carn Bran (name verified). This broch has altered little since the RCAHMS visited the site in 1909. The outer face is visible intermittently through the tumble giving an overall diameter of about 17.0m, but the inner face is obscured. The entrance with door checks is in the SW; it is part-roofed though choked with debris. Two mural cells, one apparently leading off to a stair, are exposed, and there are traces of a possible scarcement around the south arc.
There is an outwork consisting of a tumbled outer wall to the north of the broch, and two curving walls to the south; the inner is better-preserved with a sub-oval enclosure abutting it. There is no trace of a connecting wall or bank around the east side of the broch. There are the indeterminate remains of structures outside the entrance and along the west side, but river erosion has destroyed the pattern of these.
Revised at 1/10,000.
Visited by OS (E G C) 5 June 1961 and (J M) 7 May 1976.

NC/9420 1220 (NC/94202 12196 – GPS)
This broch in Loth, Sutherland, stands on a slight knoll in the centre of the flat floor of the narrow Glen Loth, and next to the north bank of the river (visited 12/7/63, 22/7/87 and 24/7/03). The valley bottom is here about one hundred yards wide. The huge pile of stones, 3.6m (12ft) high, conceals most of the structural features but the entrance is visible directly above the river bank. There is a massive drystone revetment immediately below the entrance and another lower down and a little to the west (upstream). The only way to get into the broch would have been by crossing the stream and climbing the steep bank, where doubtless there was once a flight of steps. The outer face of the broch can be traced in places and suggests an overall diameter of 17.0m.
The entrance passage faces south-west and one lintel can be seen in position near the inner end; this indicates that some 1.53 - 1.83m (5-6ft) of structure lie buried below the rubble here. Two door-checks can be seen below the lintel; the one on the left (looking in) is made of a slab on edge projecting from the wall and the one on the right appears to be built. This door-frame seems to be about 3.0m from the outer end of the passage. There is a suggestion of another door-frame at about 1.3m from the exterior but some clearance of rubble would be needed to verify this; the left wall is invisible at this point. The rubble filling the passage rises to within 30cm of the lintel .
At about 12 o'clock can be seen the built end of a long mural cell or gallery running clockwise from it – with one lintel in position; the doorway to the interior from this was apparent in 1963. This is likely to be the stair doorway and the long stair-foot guard cell [1, plan]. The inner face of a continuation of this gallery is traceable further round towards the south – from about 3-4 o'clock – and, since this is well above the lintel over the main entrance, it must be an upper gallery. The structure is therefore a definite hollow-walled broch. The rounded end of another cell or gallery, with a deep, corbelled overhang, is at about 9 o'clock. The 1976 O.S. observer thought he saw traces of a scarcement on the inner wallface around the southern arc [1] and there is a raised void in the inner wallface at about 4 o’clock.
At a distance of 5.49m (18ft) on the south-east is a curved outer wall 2.44m (8ft) thick with another a little further out. Traces of a curved outer wall are also visible on the north but there are no signs now of connecting masonry round the north-east and east sides.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC 91 SW 2 and plan: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 161-62, no. 468: 3. Pennant 1774, 356. <1>

Sources/Archives (12)



Grid reference Centred NC 9421 1220 (23m by 24m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC91SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish LOTH

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