MHG39377 - Remains of possible Souterrain - Skirza Head


A possible souterrain associated with the broch at Skirza Head.

Type and Period (1)

  • SOUTERRAIN? (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

A possible souterrain associated with the broch at Skirza Head.

The broch was Scheduled in 1938.

'Castle (NR) (Rems of)' marked on 1st ed OS 6" map, Caithness of 1873
'Broch (NR)' marked on OS 1:10,000 map of 1975

The remains of a 2nd to 3rd century broch, situated on neck of a promontory and isolated on landward side by a ditch 30ft wide. Secondary structures lie N and S as well as inside broch, which was excavated by Sir Francis Tress Barry between 1890 and 1901 and by MacKie in 1972. It has measured 22ft diameter within wall 14ft thick with checked entrance in SSE, facing seaward. A scarcement runs round N arc of interior, and exterior of same arc has fallen over cliff, together with part of settlement. In 1910 exterior wall-face stood 2ft high, inner 5ft high, and in S arc of interior, 16ft W of main entrance, was a stair entrance although only two steps of stair and part of chamber at its foot remained. Three tank-like structures, one of them filled with ashes, and other two covered with slabs, were set into floor of central court. S of broch entrance on outside is an irregular, well-like cavity which held water in 1910. c10ft deep and 10ft by 7ft across top with a drain leading into it from S. One of outbuildings to N partly overlay broch wall and produced an elk horn, which is among finds from Tress Barry's excavation donated to NMAS 1908. Also in NMAS are sherds of 2-3rd century (MacKie 1974) Hebridean everted rimware with applied fillet, from site (Acc No: GA 911). (See also ND36NE 18.)
J Anderson 1901; PSAS 1908; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910;
A Young 1964; R W Feachem 1963; E W MacKie 1972; 1974.

The broch is generally as described. Tanks in central court are now uncovered and contain water. The 'well-like' chamber S of entrance is partially faced with stone slabs and is possibly remains of souterrain which seems to have been entered from W by a passage which has fallen in. There is no water in it now. No surveyable remains of outbuildings could be found. A modern wall has been built near cliff edge SE of broch.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (R D) 9 September 1965.

The broch and secondary structures are as described by previous authorities. The interior details of the broch are obscured by thick grass. Whether cavity to S of entrance is a sump or the end of a souterrain cannot be satisfactorily determined from ground inspection. It is similar to underground chambers associated with the broch at Oust (ND06NE 7). A mound to E of the broch is probably excavation debris as is 'modern wall' noted by previous field investigation.
Visited by OS (J B) 10 May 1982.

The possible souterrain was photographed by Highland Council in ?2000. <1>

The scheduled area of the broch was amended by Historic Environment Scotland. Although not specifically mentioned in the Scheduling description, the possible souterrain is located within the Scheduled area. <2>

Sources/Archives (10)



Grid reference Centred ND 3940 6843 (6m by 6m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND36NE
Civil Parish CANISBAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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