MHG1665 - Broch, Freswick Sands


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

The very obscure remains of broch are generally as described by previous authorities. The 'later building' noted by previous field investigator is outbuilding illustrated by RCAHMS, whose plan is approximately 60 W of N incorrect in orientation. Recent back-filled excavation by Batey (C Batey, Durham University) has taken place here. A cup-marked stone with six or seven cups on it at Summerbank House (ND36846361) is possibly that found at broch.
Visited by OS (J B) 12 July 1982.

Broch (NR) (remains of) OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

The broch is now obscured by sand, debris and later building attached to its N side, but survives in form of several short stretches of internal and external walling, 0.3m high on N, E and S sides. Along E side of outer wall, 2 short sections of walling which may belong to outbuilding may be traced.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. The cup-marked stone is now part of an exhibition in the old schoolhouse at Nybster (ND 3682 6368).
Visited by OS (R D) 9 September 1965.

Remains of 2nd - 3rd century broch founded on pure sand among sandhills of Freswick Bay and now pratically obscured by sand and debris.
Excavated by Sir Francis Tress Barry between 1890 and 1900, it measures 32ft 8ins diameter within wall, 11ft 6ins thick, which has a scarcement and two mural cells. The wall is generally 7ft high 'but is partly broken down on side towards land, where the original entrance probably was. Facing to NE is an entrance passage by the foot of stair, of which 14 steps still remain. It goes up to the left from middle of the entrance passage. . . Two curved walls of secondary construction divide the interior area of the broch into segments.' Finds include a cup-marked stone, which was in front of John Nicolson's house at Nybster (ND 3663) 1910. RCAHMS include a plan, presumably based on Sir Francis Tress Barry's excavation plan, but apparently inverted as compared with Anderson's description, so that entrance with stair is in SW instead of NE. This plan also shows outbuildings attached to W side of broch.
J Anderson 1901; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910; A Young 1964.

Listed in the NMS catalogue from Tress Barry’s excavation are various bone implements such as pins, a needle, a borer, a portion of spindle whorl, combs, points, a cylinder, a wild boar tusk for making pinheads or playing pieces and also stone whorls, a stone sinker, a bronze fragment with rivet holes, and pottery sherds. <1>

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. <2>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred ND 3760 6760 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND36NE
Civil Parish CANISBAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (10)

  • COMB (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • POINT (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SINKER (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SHERD (Early Iron Age to Medieval - 550 BC to 1559 AD)
  • BORER (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • NEEDLE (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • PIN (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • WORKED OBJECT (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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