MHG1981 - Broch - Bail A Chairn


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Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

ND25SW 8 2281 5171.
Bail' a' Chairn (NAT) Broch (NR) (remains of)
OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

Broch, Bail a' Chairn: This broch was excavated in 1904 by late Sir Francis Tress Barry but was filled in by order of proprietor before its exploration was completed. In 1910, remains consisted of an oval mound, aligned E-W, rising to a height of about 18ft, the whole of which was deemed to be to some extent artificial. A terrace or glacis, 12-14ft wide, ran around it falling from a height of up to 9ft on N and S to about 3ft at ends. Its N edge was defined by a wall or stony rampart up to 10 ft wide at its base. The broch ruin, 108ft E-W by 78ft transversely, rose above the terrace to a height of 9.5ft on N and S and 14ft at E and W ends.
The excavation of 1904 showed the broch itself to have a diameter of about 30ft within walls 14ft thick, rising to a height of 10ft. Within the N and S walls, with opposing doorways, were stair-passages both rising to the right, S passage extending to the left of its doorway to form a chamber 33ft long, lit by a tall narrow window and having two 'cupboard' recesses.
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

As described by the RCAHM. No broch walling evident.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 22 November 1965.

No change. Visited by OS (J M) 11 March 1982.

Bail a’Chairn, Acharole, ND25SW0008
Brochs are round, tower-like houses, their monumental size intended to display the wealth and status of the agricultural communities who lived in them. They were occupied in the later Iron Age and occur frequently in the north and west of Scotland. (41)
In profile, Acharole broch appears to be a ‘mound on top of a mound’. The lower, broader mound probably obscures a series of outbuildings clustering around the higher, central broch tower. Stretches of wall facing are visible around the higher mound. (41)
Excavations, which took place at the beginning of the twentieth century, showed that inside the broch there were two staircases within the thickness of the double-skinned walls. One rose from a long passage lit by a tall narrow window and containing two cupboard-like recesses. (44)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
RCAHMS. 1911. Caithness. Edinburgh: HMSO, 127-9, No. 466.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

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.<1>

The broch was Scheduled by Historic Environment Scotland in 2017. <2>

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred ND 2281 5171 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND25SW
Civil Parish WATTEN
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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