MHG13002 - Broch - Clachtoll, An Dun, Assynt


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

(NC 0366 2784) An Dun (NAT) Broch (NR) OS 6"map, (1971)

At Clachtoll, on edge of flat ledges of rock that fringe shore, is a broch and outworks. Broch is in a fairly good state of preservation except towards sea where it has been for a short distance almost demolished. The interior is full of debris and greatest height of wall showing above it is c. 3'. On outside top of wall is 6' - 7' high but interior face is 3' - 4' above that. It was not possible to measure the thickness of wall at base but at its highest level it is 12' thick. The interior diameter of broch is 32'. The entrance, in E, is 3' wide and now about 3'6" high with two guard chambers, one on either side of entrance passage. In interior, directly opposite entrance, top of the stairway is visible. A steatite cup was found many years ago in a recess of wall of right hand guard chamber by the Rev J M Joass of Golspie, in whose possession it still is. (See NC02NW 4 for a steatite cup, found near broch - possibly same cup?)
About 100 yds from broch are the much ruined remains of a massive outer wall crossing uncultivated land to E: land to S being all cultivated, outworks in that diection have been demolished. 40' from broch is another wall built of great stones, 2' - 3' in height and some 6' thick, which leads from either side of entrance and was evidently carried round to out flank the building. On S the details are still evident. At turning it enclosed a mound of stone and earth c8' across faced with building on inner side. Distance between the stone uprights of the gateway through the wall is 6'.
RCAHMS 1911. <1>

The broch was Scheduled in 1935.

Listed as a broch by A Graham in 1949. <2>

The broch is defended by outwork built of very large blocks and boulders, but another ruined wall lying some 100 yds away is most probably a land boundary of later date. <3>

This broch measures 16.1m in overall diameter. The internal diameter can only be measured above rubble which fills interior to above scarcement level. Here it is 9.7m, and wall varies between 3.1m and 3.4m in width, but at ground level at entrance wall is 4.2m thick, suggesting internal diameter of c8m. The entrance passage is accessible and shows 2 upright slabs for door jambs 1.7m along it. Behind them are bar holes and entrances to two guard chambers each 3.7m long. There is an opening into broch interior from rear of N guard chamber. There is what may be a later forework immediately in front of broch entrance and traces of a probably secondary building, both of which are mainly masked by debris. The entrance passage through outwork shows 2 upright blocks, probably jambs about 4m along it, there are suggestions that a passage or corridor led on from them towards broch entrance, but debris prevents a true assessment of this. The alleged outwork 100 yds distant is a combination of outcrop and cleared stones.
Published surv (1:10,000) revised. Visited by OS (GHP) 11 May 196 and (A A) 5 August 1974.

No change. Visited by OS (J B) 14 August 1980.

Clachtoll broch perches precariously on very edge of the sea; in spite of the fact that part of the walls have tumbled over the edge of the cliff, it is still an impressive structure. Its exposed position is also deceptive, as it is surrounded by good agricultural land. (49)

The original entrance is still visible, dominated by the huge triangular slab above it. While this was also an effective way of spreading the load of the walls above the doorway, it also served as a dramatic focus for people approaching the site. (43)

The site was photographed by a member of the Highland Regional Council possibly in 1985. <4>

The site was visited and photographed by R B Gourlay of the Highland Regional Council in 1987. <5> <6> <7>

NW SUT Local Plan, May 1987: P23/2.36.

Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
Close-Brooks, J., 1995. Exploring Scotland’s Heritage. The Highlands. Edinburgh: HMSO, 145-6, No. 87.
Gourlay, R., 1996. Sutherland. An Archaeological Guide, 74-5.
RCAHMS. 1911. Sutherland. Edinburgh: HMSO, 2-3, No. 7.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

The site was visited and photographed by the Highland Council in 2000. <8> <9> <10> <11> <12> <13> <14> <15> <16> <17> <18> <19> <20> <21> <22> <23> <24> <25> <26> <27>

Restoration and Excavation work was carried out in April 2001 by Joffy Hill (HS). This involved work on the entrance area which is now a little safer, the side passages remain untouched. <28> <29>

According to Andy Summers (Ranger) human remains were found between the broch & the beach c10 years ago and reported to Bob Gourlay, who removed a possible humerus for identification - no written report yet found within the SMR. <30>

A Conservation Management Plan for the monument was produced by AOC Archaeology Group in 2009. This was informed, in part, by topographic and laser scanning surveys carried out in 2008. <31>

A survey plan of this broch is reproduced in the report on the Assynt's Hidden Lives Project. <32>

A proposal for stabilisation works was produced by AOC Archaeology Group in March 2010. The first phase of works would involve the systematic removal of loose courses of stonework and stabilisation of areas likely to collapse. The works would include excavation of areas of the passageway floor revealed by the removal of loose stone collapse. On completion of the Phase 1 works the entrance area would be safe from further collapse and the intra-mural spaces in Cells 1 and 2 would be safely accessible. <33>

Regarding the humerus reported under <30>, according to John Wood, former Highland Council Senior Archaeologist a large number of boxes collected by Robert Gourlay were handed over to Inverness Museum. Others were handed to a bone specialist on Orkney. It is thought that some of the bones handed to Inverness Museum were reburied. The whereabouts of the rest of the boxes is currently unknown. <34>

The broch was subject to archaeological investigation in 2011 by AOC Archaeology as part of a conservation project in order to protect and preserve the entrance passage and surrounding areas. It was not the aim of this intervention to recover cultural artefacts, nonetheless two sherds of Hebridean broch period pottery as well as some wood, radiocarbon dated to the Iron Age, was recovered suggesting the survival of iron age deposits and potentially hinting that the mezzanine flooring may have consisted of wattle screens, if not for structural members. The conservation work undertaken should protect the fabric of the monument's entrance for many decades although further work is required to further secure the monument. <35>

The site is included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <36>

Clachtoll is one of four broch discussed as case studies in 'The Survey and Analysis of Brochs', an article published in PSAS 2015. Available online. <37>

AOC's work at Clachtoll Broch was discussed in a lecture on Iron Age Highland by Andy Heald at the Highland Regional ScARF Symposium in 2018. The site was found to have very good preservation and a large number or artefacts. Theses were carefully mapped where found and the patterns which emerged suggest discreet activity areas within the Broch. <38>

The scheduling of the broch was amended by Historic Environment Scotland with effect from 07/12/2018. <39>

This site was included in Mackie's 2007 'The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC - AD 500: Architecture and material culture'. See link below to HES Canmore record which includes the chapter on this site. <40>

Sources/Archives (42)



Grid reference Centred NC 0366 2784 (14m by 14m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC02NW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish ASSYNT

Finds (15)

  • LAMP (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • COMB (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • TEXTILE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • PIN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • PIN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • QUERN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SHERD (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • AXEHEAD (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • BLADE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SCYTHE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SCYTHE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • REAPING HOOK (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • CEREAL GRAIN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (3)

External Links (3)

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