MHG1946 - Broch, Watenan South


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Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

Broch (NR) OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

A small fort, dimensions of which (but for absence of debris) would suggest a broch, is situated on crest of a rocky ridge. It comprises a circular area, 27ft diameter, within a wall some 12ft thick and 3-4ft high, possibly entered from SE, and is set eccentrically within another wall some 12-18ft thick which surrounds it at varying distances up to 30ft.
'From E end of N front a bank or wall apparently connects the two lines of circumvallation. At N extremity the outer wall presents a scarp about 10ft in height, with a shallow ditch some 10ft in width at the base of it. On S this wall is less prominent... the ditch is visible at this end also.
RCAHMS 1911.

The turf-covered remains of a broch (not a fort as claimed above) within an outer defensive work, as described by RCAHMS.
One course of heavy stone walling protrudes through turf in S of the broch for a short distance, and a slight depression around the top of the rampart, together with a more lush growth of turf, indicates a mural passage. The entrance through outer defences is in SW. The absence of debris is probably due to later robbing.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 27 April 1967.

This broch is situated on the summit of an un-named rocky hill about 120m SSW of Watenan farmsteading. The broch has been heavily robbed and now forms a grass-grown mound measuring up to 20m in diameter by 1.1m in height, with a dished interior 8.8m in diameter by up to 1m in depth. There is also evidence that the site has been excavated; the corners of shallow trenches are clearly visible and where structural features, such as intra-mural galleries, have been found, they seem to have been partly cleared out. Little trace of the inner wall-face is visible, but the entrance appears to have been on the SE and there are intra-mural features on the SW, NW and NNE.
The broch lies within the remains of a wall and ditch, which is best preserved on the N, where they cut off access from a gentle ascent. Here the grass-grown wall forms a bank up to 3.8m in thickness and 1.7m in external height and the external ditch is 6m in breadth by 1m in depth. This ditch runs on to the natural slope at its W end and on the E it seems to have a rounded terminal, although there is no corresponding gap in the rampart. On the S, the bank measures about 4m in thickness by 1.2m in external height; at its E end it has been partly destroyed by quarrying and all along its length it bears the scars of small-scale robbing. This bank is accompanied by an external ditch, which is considerably narrower and shallower than its counterpart on the N. Further, both ends of the ditch have been destroyed by quarrying (YARROWS04 449, 450). Elsewhere, to the E and W of the broch respectively, the rampart has been reduced to little more than a stony spread, but two short runs of large boulders (the largest measuring 1.1m in length and 0.5m in height) are visible in up to two courses. These are situated considerably down slope and could only have functioned as the footings of a wall carrying a considerable batter.
In addition to the quarries already mentioned, there is a series of small pits along the crest of the E side of the hill.
(YARROWS04 038, 449, 450)
Visited by RCAHMS (JRS) 26 May 2004

The site was visited and photographed by C Jones in April 2011. <1>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred ND 3171 4114 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND34SW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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