MHG2019 - Castle Linglas Broch


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Type and Period (2)

  • BROCH (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • LONG CIST (Early Medieval - 561 AD? to 1057 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

Castle Linglas (NAT) Broch (NR) (remains of) (NAT)
Long Cists found (NAT) OS 1:10,000 map, (1974)

Wester Broch or Castle Linglas is southern of two sandhills known locally as the Birkle Hill, and excavated by Sir Francis Tress Barry. The walls of the broch is 13ft thick and encloses an area 27ft
in diameter. At 30-40ft from exterior are remains of an enclosing wall between which and broch, on the landward side, are the foundations of eight or nine small cells or buildings. The following finds were donated to NMAS in 1908: Three rounded quartzite painted pebbles; various bone implements; stone discs; whorls; pebbles and implements; horn handles. Also found but seemingly not donated were an upper quern stone, a saddle quern, and fragments of very coarse pottery.
Over top of wall of broch, and in sand which covered it, were four extended burials in cists. The bones of a child were found in one of outbuildings.
RCAHMS 1911; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1909; J Anderson 1901.

The remains of this broch are situated in sand dunes which have encroached on all sides except W, broch lying at foot of dunes. Little of it is visible, but internal diamter of broch appears to have been 8.8m. Traces of outer face of wall are visible on only W segment, giving the broch an overall diameter of 18m. Where exposed, inner and outer faces of wall have max heights of 0.5 and 0.3m respectively. The level of iinterior is 1.2m max depth below crest of broch, but is mainly silted up as is entrance, which has been on W side. There is no trace of outer wall, buildings or cists, which have presumably been covered by the drifting sound.
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (R D L) 23 April 1963.

Mostly sand-covered rubble, nothing being clearly visible except the outline of a curving wall. The area in the immediate vicinity has been excavated by Kestrel Marine.
C E Batey 1981.

As described by the previous field investigator.
Visited by OS (N K B) 2 September 1982.
Photographs in Inverness Museum Skull no.1 Found in Wester Broch, 1890 N/N 977.P79.22 Skull no.1 South Birkle Hill, 1890,Wester Broch N/N 977.P79.23

ND 3385 5831 Damage caused by a digger running over this scheduled monument was repaired. No significant damage is considered to have occurred to monument.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
J Wordsworth 1997

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>

This site was re-appraised along with the other cemetery sites in the area using Society of Antiquaries of Scotland manuscripts, and published sources, by Anna Ritchie. <2>

A catalogue of painted pebbles was compiled by Anna Ritchie in 2014. Three painted pebbles were found at the broch in 1895:
54 mm by 41 mm; solid dots on one side, pentacle motif on the other. NMS GA 502.
39 mm by 32 mm; solid dots over entire surface. NMS GA 504.
65 mm by 51 mm; solid dots over entire surface. NMS GA 511.
A possible fourth is also from the broch:
43 mm by 39 mm; crescent, arc and two circles on one side, curving line on the other. NMS GA 509, labelled ‘Wester’. <3>

Within NMS collections are bone tools including needles, pins, a spatula, antler rings, a weaving comb, whorls, stone discs, pebbles, and pottery sherds (Acc. Nos. GA 618-50, 903-4). A painted pebble is also listed under 2009.16 and a fragment of human skull under 2009.17. <4>

There are finds from Wester Broch, Keiss, listed in the Caithness Horizons accession catalogue. These include at least one hammerstone (ARC78). <5>

Sources/Archives (12)



Grid reference Centred ND 3386 5832 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND35NW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (16)

  • SADDLE QUERN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • QUERN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Early Medieval - 561 AD? to 1057 AD?)
  • RING (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • WHETSTONE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • NEEDLE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • PIN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SPATULA (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • WEAVING COMB (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • WORKED OBJECT (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • HAMMERSTONE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • POUNDER (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SHERD (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • DISC (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SHERD (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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