MHG12837 - Broch, Alltbreck


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Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

NC51SE 2 5911 1035.
Broch (NR) OS 1:10,000 map (1970)

The dilapidated remains of broch situated on knoll which appears to have been artifically levelled to take it. A hollow-way through NE scarp may have formed an approach. The broch measured 9.5m in diameter within a wall 3.9m thick with an entrance 0.9m wide in SE. There is a guard-chamber on each side of entrance passage and four other mural chambers, one of which, to west of the entrance appeared, in 1909, to be the staircase gallery. The chambers and entrance are still visible but are almost filled with collapsed walling. The outer wall-face stands to a maximum height of 1.2m. Debris fills the interior to a depth of about 2m. Abutting the broch on the NW is the foundation of a D-shaped enclosure built of broch material. To the east of the broch is the foundation of a large oval scooped enclosure 18m by 10m. Both enclosures are probably associated with the depopulation area of Altbreck (NC51SE 29).
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; Visited by OS (EGC) 26 June 1963

The broch is as described. It is in a clearing surrounded by afforestation and thick vegetation.
revised at 1:10 000 Visited by OS (JB) 23 August 1976

As previously described in 1963, with a few minor amendments. The broch has measured 10m in diameter within a wall 3.8-4m in width with an entrance 1.2-1.3m wide. The entrances to only three intra-mural chambers (excluding guard cells) were noted.
Surveyed at 1:125 Visited by RCAHMS (SMF) 18 October 1989.

A management plan for the monument was produced by Forest Enterprise in 2000. <1>

NC51 1 ALLT BREAC ('Alltbreac’)
NC/5911 1035
This probable ground-galleried broch stands on the summit of a gradual rise on the north side of a shallow glen running down to the flat land around Loch Shin, which is a mile away (visited 11/7/63). The structure has been badly quarried and ruined and the walls are down to a height of from 0.9 to l.2m (3 or 4ft). Some of the stones in the outer face are very large, over 90cm (3ft) long and up to 60cm (2ft) high [2].
The entrance is on the north-north-east and there are traces of a guard cell on the right with its doorway l.93m (6ft 4in) from the exterior (the door-checks have vanished). The doorway is 51cm (1ft 8in) wide and 1.22m (4ft) deep, and the cell behind is 3.05m (10ft) long (Commission's measurements [2]). The Commission also saw a guard cell on the left with a doorway 61cm (2ft) wide and 76cm (2.5ft) long; this led to a badly ruined cell 2.13m (7ft) long and 81cm (2ft 8in) wide, but this can no longer be seen.
There are clear traces of a mural gallery, or of several cells, in the wall and these must be at ground level because of the low wallhead. At present they look like the fragmentary remains of a single gallery but the Commission describes more than one built end to the various visible sections, which suggests that there may be a series of sub-divided sections of gallery. In 1963 the feature was visible at about 10 o'clock (with a square-built end facing back towards the entrance), again from 11 to 1 o'clock (with a rounded end at the former point) and finally at 3 o'clock (where a left end was reported in 1909 [2]). This broch thus seems to be an example of the ground-galleried form, or of something very close to it; presumably one of the subdivisions is a stair-foot guard cell; no traces of the stair have been reported and it must still be buried.
The external diameters from 6-12 and from 9-3 o'clock seem to be l8.61m (61ft) and l5.86m (52ft) respectively, which would make the structure markedly oval. The wall thicknesses along the first diameter are 4.8m and 4.35m (13.5 and 14.5ft) and the first wall thickness on the second diameter is also 4.35m (14.5ft). The oval shape was confirmed by Mercer's survey but he gives the diameters as 20m and 25m [3].
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC 51 SE 2: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 136-8, no. 395, and fig. 56: 3. Mercer 1980, 125, site DAL 256. <2>

New information about this site was gathered during a walkover survey by Ross and Cromarty Archaeological Services that took place between November 2010 and January 2011. Please see the linked report for full details. <3> <4>

Topographic and laser scanning surveys were undertaken by AOC Archaeology Group in 2013 at the site, for the purposes of conservation management on behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland. <5>

Alltbreck is one of four broch discussed as case studies in 'The Survey and Analysis of Brochs', an article published in PSAS 2015. Available online. <6>

Sources/Archives (7)



Grid reference Centred NC 5910 1035 (19m by 19m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC51SE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish LAIRG

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