MHG2530 - The Pap Broch


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Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

ND35SE 5 3762 5140.
The Pap (NAT) Broch (NR) OS 6" map, (1968)

Broch - 'Hillhead Broch' or 'The Pap', Broadhaven was excavated by Sir Francis Tress Barry in 1903. From plan then made, it can be seen that outside of broch to E and c30ft distant from entrance were two converging passages, each about 17ft in length to the point of convergence. Inward another 7.5ft was a 5.5ft thick outer casing wall, and on left side of passage here was a 2ft wide entrance with a flight of 6 steps leading down to an 8ft deep well. The broch wall itself was 13ft thick, and on either side of the entrance- passage was a guard-chamber. The diameter of inner court was 30ft, but reduced some 2-3ft be some still remaining portions of a facing wall. There was a chamber in N and S sides of the broch wall. Internally, height of wall was about 9ft. In its present (1910) condition, interior of broch is largely filled with debris, beneath which wall face is hidden. On exterior towards W, wall is visible for a height of about 2ft.
Found in this broch and now in NMAS is the top of a human skull in which are three small perforations placed so as to form a rough equilateral triangle.
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

Numerous small finds from Hillhead Broch were donated to NMAS by representatives of late Sir Francis Tress Barry in 1908.
Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1909.

A badly mutilated mound of earth and stones c18m diameter and 1.3m in height standing on rising ground in corner of cultivated field, is all that remains of this broch. The hollowed centre of the mound measures c13m diameter. A portion of outer face of broch wall, some 0.1m high, can be seen on NE side.
Various fragments of stone, shells and animal bone found in or near this broch are in Wick Museum, with several photographs of excavations.
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (W D J) 21 April 1962.

Badly overgrown but part of outer wall visible. C E Batey 1981.

No change. Visited by OS (J B) 18 August 1982.

Bone dice found at unknown location in broch; GA 846. Numbered 3, 5, 4, 6. 33 x 10mm. RMS GA 847. Solid bone. All surfaces are extremely worn, but on three of four faces some markings are visible. It is impossible to be certain that all markings on any one face have been recognised. Some dots (probably all) enclosed by a circle. 47 x 8mm.
Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1909; D V Clarke 197; E W MacKie 1971.

A radiocarbon date for the human remains was obtained and published as part of the Human Remains from Iron Age Atlantic Scotland Dating Project 2009. This indicated a Late Iron Age/Pictish date of 340-420 AD, calibrated to 1 sigma. <1>

Finds in the NMS from Tress Barry’s excavation acquired by the NMS in 1908 include: a composite bone comb with iron rivets, bone and antler handles, bone pins, points and needles, bone dice, antler and bone pieces, sandstone whorl, stone discs, piece of red clay, a human skull with three drilled holes and a polished pebble (GA 833- GA 856, GA 857d). <2>

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. <3> <4>

There are finds from Hillhead Broch listed in the Caithness Horizons accession catalogue. These include animal bones and stone implements (ARC868a-aa, ARC153-4). <5>

Sources/Archives (10)



Grid reference Centred ND 3762 5141 (46m by 43m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND35SE
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (12)

  • COMB (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • HANDLE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • PIN (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • POINT (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • NEEDLE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • DISC (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (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)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)
  • GAMING PIECE (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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