MHG2311 - Broch - Cogle (Coghill)


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Alex Sutherland: Excavation of Broch of Cogle, Watten, Caithness. It is due to Dr. Anstruther Davidson, Los Angeles, that the existence of the broch was proved. The plan was carefully drawn by exact measurements on the spot by Mr. Nicolson. The only entrance, about 2 feet wide, to the Cogle Broch is on the west. At the Scottack and other excavated Caithness brochs the entrance is on the east. The thickness of the walls is 15 feet, and the circle enclosed has a diameter of 30 feet. There were two upright flagstones 2 feet high and 2 feet apart. The average height of the walls remaining in situ would be about 3 feet. Probably 60 feet or 7.0 feet had fallen and helped to form the mound. Vegetation had grown and decayed had buried the stupendous structure for ages, Dr. Davidson identified five successive layers of ashes and pavement, and the charred remains of wood indicated the fuel. Trunks and branches of pine, birch, and hazel-nuts are frequently got in peat cutting at considerable depth in Cogle moss. Dr. Davidson made sections of some of these pines, and found that their annual rate of growth coincided with that of the charred fragments found so abundantly in the broch. The most important of the neolithic remains were the stone pestles found in the lowest stratum of ashes. These, over twenty, were in only a few instances pestle shaped.They were made of hard-grained, basaltic-like stone, and were originally of oval or oblong shape. By constant use in pounding, the edges were bevelled, and a few of them were worn quite circular and bevelled all round. Two stones with shallow mortars were found, as also some saddle querns with the usual hand-grinding stone, and numerous stone pebbles, probably used for sling stones. Almost all the bones were broken to extract the marrow. None showed evidence of fire, and the condition of the bones would show that they were very imperfectly cooked, Parts of tusks of boar, goat, horse, and ox could be identified, and also bat, with probably great auk. These have been sent to Professor Bryce, Glasgow University, for further investigation. <1>

Broch, Cogle or Coghill: The remains of this broch are in stackyard E of Coghill farmhouse and are recognisable only as a low mound 2 ft high, overgrown with vegetation. It was excavated by Dr Anstruther Davidson in 1905 and plan by John Nicholson, Lybster, was made at that time. Relics discovered are preserved at this farm and at school-house, Gersa. They include bones, shells, deer horn, three vessels of unornamented pottery, stone pounders, rubbing stones, shale discs, a bone pin, and querns (saddle type only).
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910

Items of deer-horn from this broch were donated to NMAS by the finder, T D Bathgate, in 1934 (Acc Nos: GA 1140-3).
Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1935

There is no trace of any remains of this broch. The site, at ND 2670 5708, is now used as the farm stackyard. There are now no relics in the farmhouse; the farmer stated that the property changed hands in 1940.
There are also no relics in the schoolhouse at Gersa (ND 2591 5745). Site surveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (R D L) 23 April 1963

(ND 2670 5708) Broch (NR) (site of)
OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

In the stackyard a low rise of indefinite size and crossed by modern tracks indicates site of broch. A square mortar and a rotary quern stone with a piece of concrete in hole stand in farmyard. Farmer is uncertain whether they are finds from broch.
Visited by OS (J B) 19 March 1982

'Broch', Cogle. The site of a broch identified by a slight rise of indefinite size, crossed by modern tracks.
R J Mercer, NMRS MS/828/19, 1995

ND25 7 COGHILL ('Cogle')
ND/2670 5708
Site of a probable solid-based broch in Watten, Caithness, standing on flat ground. The structure was excavated in 1905 by Dr. Anstruther Davidson and a plan was made of the exposed building by Mr. J Nicholson of Lybster; it survives now as a low mound 60cm high and covered with vegetation.
The entrance passage, 5.19m (17ft) long, is on the west; its width is 75cm (2.5ft) for the first 3.97m (13ft) at which point it is rebated for door-checks, with slabs set in the wall according to the plan. Thereafter the width is 1.21m (4ft), narrowing a little at the inner end. A pivot stone was found just inside from the left check. At 3 o'clock is the doorway to a mural stair, rising to the right, with a stair-foot guard cell on the left. The latter is 5.03m (16.5ft) long by 1.22m (4ft) wide, widening to 2.13m (7ft) at the far end.
Four radial slabs were set in the interior against the broch wallface to the left of the entrance. A curved U-shaped wall, probably also secondary, was in the interior and had a hearth at one end of it, against its inside face. The convexity of the 'U' faced the entrance so one presumably had to go round this obstruction to get to the fireplace. The entrance passage seemed to have been secondarily extended outwards by a “casing wall”. There are no signs of this structure now [1].
Finds: in 1911 these were in the school house at Gersa and included fragments of three "vessels of unornamented pottery", many hammerstones, rubbing stones, thin shale discs and a fine bone pin. Only saddle querns are preserved, although a rotary quern and a stone mortar of uncertain origin were seen at the farm in 1982 [1]. In 1934 some further finds were recorded [3]; they included 1 pointed and socketed deer horn implement, a deer horn handle with socket and 2 pointed implements of deer-horn and bone respectively.
Dimensions: external diameter (from plan) c. 19.22m (63ft), internal 8.85m (29ft): the wall proportion is therefore c. 54%.
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 25 NE 8: 2. RCAHMS 1911b, 129-30, no. 469 and fig. 31: 3. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 69 (1934-35), 14-15 (donations). <2>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred ND 2670 5708 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND25NE
Civil Parish WATTEN
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (11)

  • SADDLE QUERN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • POUNDER (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • MOLLUSCA REMAINS (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • ROTARY QUERN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • POLISHER (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • MORTAR (VESSEL) (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • DISC (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • PIN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • VESSEL (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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