MHG1588 - Broch/Crannog, Greysteil Castle


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Type and Period (2)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

Greysteil Castle, Loch Rangag, ND14SE0004
Greysteil Castle lies on a promontory sticking out into Loch Rangag. In spite of the fact that access to it could be easily controlled, a 2.5m thick wall cuts across the promontory on the landward side. Between this wall and the broch is a boulder lined path, described in 1726 as having red currants growing in it.

Name and robber?
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
RCAHMS. 1911. Caithness. Edinburgh: HMSO, 60-1, No. 222.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

ND14SE 4 1795 4167.
Greysteil Castle (NAT) Broch (NR) OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

The bare ruins of a broch, about 69ft overall diameter, with a wall 14-15ft thick, and 12ft max height, occupy a spit of land. The base of exterior is visible at several points. The entrance, from the landward side, is ruined beyond recognition, but has had a guard chamber on right, back wall of which is visible. A mural chamber, 11ft long by 5ft wide, is exposed in N wall.
An 8ft thick wall, concentric with the broch, and about 26ft from it, curvess across neck of spit. Through its centre, a passage 6ft wide and walled on either side, leads to the broch entrance. The ruins are known as 'Greysteil Castle'.
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

'Greysteil Castle' is a broch with an outwork situated on a probably partly artificial peninsula on E side of Loch Rangag.
The broch survives as a mound of partly turf-covered debris spread to 20m diameter and about 4m max height. There are several outer facing-stones in S and W arcs but none are visible elsewhere, although overall diameter appears to have been between 18-18.5m. The inner face can be traced intermittently giving an internal diameter of 9m but as this is at top of mound it probably represents diameter above the scarcement. The guard chamber on N side of debris-filled entrance passage in E and part of a mural chamber in NW, as described by RCAHMS. The base of broch mound is encircled round W half by remnants of a modern stone wall.
The curving outer wall appears to spring from broch wall in N and S. It is boulder-faced and varies in width between 3.3m in N and 2m at central entrance where outer face is exposed to a height of two courses. The space between this entrance and broch entrance is spanned by a boulder-flanked approach about 6m long and 2m wide.
Surveyed at 1:10,000. Visited by OS (I S S) 21 April 1972.

Greysteil Castle, a broch with outworks, is as described. The existence of a raised beach about 0.5m above present surface of loch indicates beyond doubt that peninsula upon which broch stands was formerly an island, and may have been a crannog. On the landward side of the present isthmus is a heather-covered bank in which some stone is exposed. It is about 1m average height and 3-4m wide, and extends N-S for a distance of 26m, protecting the landward approach. Some 11m from N end of bank is a gap, with a turf-covered causeway extending from it across isthmus to terminate on outwork, but not at entrance. Either this causeway is contemporary with the broch and the outwork later, or the broch and outwork were built at the same time and the causeway served an earlier structure, ie. a crannog.
Visited by OS (N K B) 6 December 1982.

East Caithness Local Plan, May 1987: P117/6.25. Countryside Facilities and Trails.
POLICY - The Council will encourage development of a range of countryside facilities, as resources permit.
Interpretive Facilities.
J Aitken : 23/05/01.

ND/1795 4167 (visited 22/7/63)
This probable broch in Latheron, Caithness, stands on the east shore of Loch Rangag on a low spit of land projecting into the water. The structure is built of irregular blocks of igneous or metamorphic rock and is unexcavated so that little can be seen but a mound of stones. A few facing stones of the outer face are visible in the south and west arcs, suggesting an overall diameter of 21m (c. 69ft).
The inner face can be traced inter-mittently, suggesting an internal diameter of 9.0m (29.5ft) [1], but as this is at the top of the mound it probably represents the dia-meter above the scarcement. The wall would appear to be from 4.27-4.58m (14-15ft) thick. The entrance faces east, towards the shore, and there are traces of a guard cell on its right. The Commission noted a mural cell on the north about 3.3m (11ft) long and 1.5m (5ft) wide [2]. A curved outer wall 2.4m (8ft) thick, concentric with the broch and about 7.93m (26ft) from it, crosses the neck of the short promontory; there is a 1.8m (6ft)-wide gateway through it.
A recent report [1] mentions a raised beach about 0.5m above the present surface of the loch and implies that the promontory on which the broch stands was formerly an island, and may have been a crannog. There are indications of a stone causeway leading from the broch to the shore along the isthmus, and which appears to be earlier than the outwork wall. The possibility thus exists that the causeway belongs to an earlier crannog on which the broch was built, or that broch and causeway are contemporary and the promontory wall is later.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 14 SE 4: 2. RCAHMS 1911b, 60-1, no. 222.

Sources/Archives (7)



Grid reference Centred ND 1794 4166 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND14SE
Civil Parish LATHERON
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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