MHG10748 - Broch - Armadale Burn


A ruined broch including the remains of an outer defensive wall with an entrance on the southeast side.

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

(NC 7994 6266) Broch (NR) OS 6"map, (1963)

In strong position, on summit of knoll which crowns steep cliff on W side of Armadale Burn, is a ruined broch. It measures 7m diameter within a wall varying from 4.3m to 4.7m thick, which is reduced mainly to base footings of outer face, but survives to a maximum height of 1.3m internally. The entrance, 0.9m wide, is in SE arc; no door checks or bar holes can be seen but corbelling of a guard chamber is exposed to N of entrance, and some 3.5m to W are traces of end wall of a mural chamber.
An outer defensive wall of uncertain width extends from river cliff north of broch around W side, rejoining cliff in SE; W part however is obscured by broch debris. The outer face is traceable intermittently to maximum height of 0.5m. The entrance is on N side, the easiest means of approach. See plan and photograph. Revised at 1/10,000.
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909 <1>; Visited by OS (W D J) 26 April 1960 and (N K B) 28 June 1977.

NC76 1 ARMADALE BURN NC/7994 6266 (7995 6265 – GPS)
This probable ground-galleried broch in Farr, Sutherland, is 1.5 miles from the sea and stands on top of a steep, high, conical knoll on the top of the west bank of the deep ravine down which flows the Armadale Burn (visited 9/7/63 and 22/7/03). The east slope of the knoll is continuous with that of the ravine but the western one slopes down more gradually to higher moorland. The shape of the circular drystone building is clearly visible although the wall is badly ruined, the outer face consisting only of the foundation course for most of the circuit. The inner face survives to a height of 1.3m and heavy rubble fills the interior.
The entrance is on the south-east, facing upstream, and is 4.27m (14ft) long and 91cm (3ft) wide with no sign of the door-frame. The passage has been partly cleared out since 1963 but there are no signs of a door-frame or of fallen lintels. The corbelling of a right-hand guard chamber is visible immediately north of this passage [1] and traces of the end wall of a mural cell are visible about 3.5m to its west. The lintel of what seems to be a doorway into the wall is visible on the north side. This doorway was photographed by the author in 1963 but is not mentioned in his notes, and neither is it mentioned in any other account. It could not be located in 2003. A report in 1960 [1] claims that the entrance is on the north side and is presumably referring to this door-way, which must be that of an intra-mural gallery or chamber.
In 2003 were seen, at c. 9-11 o'clock, clear traces of the inner wall of a mural gallery together with two huge, dislodged lintels. That this is a ground level rather than an upper gallery is implied by traces of the foundation of the outer wallface at 2 o'clock. Here are visible two huge, super-imposed and neatly laid blocks which must be close to bedrock and the relative heights of the two features suggest that the gallery lintels are only about 2m high.
Some excavation has been made into the rubble filling the interior and this now gives the impression that a huge wall projects radially into the interior at about 1 o'clock.
An outer wall of uncertain width surrounds the broch and ends at the cliff on both sides. The bottom of the burn ravine is very narrow at this point and the nearest modern cultivated land is a mile away downstream to the north; thus unless the adjacent moorland was cultivated Armadale Burn might be classed as one of those brochs inhabited by a community which concentrated more on sheep and cattle.
Dimensions (taken by the author in 1963): overall diameter through the entrance is 16.47m (54ft) and 16.17m (53ft) at right angles; the corresponding internal diameters are both 7.17m (23.5ft). The wall proportion is thus about 52.3%.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC 76 SE 3: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 63, no. 190: 3. MacKie 1975, 219. <1>

A photograph of this broch, taken in June 2009, was submitted by David Glass. <2>

The broch was Scheduled by Historic Environment Scotland in 2017. <3>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NC 7993 6266 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC76SE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish FARR

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