MHG42400 - Broch, Loch of Yarrows


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Type and Period (1)

  • BURIAL GROUND (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

Loch of Yarrows, ND34SW0001

Yarrows broch is one of the most complex brochs in Caithness. Situated on a promontory projecting into the loch, it is surrounded by cellular buildings, built on the middens of even earlier structures. It is overlain by later aisled houses known as ‘wags’, from the Gaelic word for cave. (49)
When the broch was excavated in the late nineteenth century, five human skeletons were found. One of these had been buried with a brass brooch, dating between AD 1200 and 1300. This suggests that, even after the broch had gone out of use, it remained an important focal point in landscape into the medieval period. (56)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
RCAHMS. 1911. Caithness. Edinburgh: HMSO, 149-51, No. 509.
Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

ND34SW 1 3083 4349.
Cairns of Yarrows (NAT) Broch & Settlement (NR)
OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

The broch of Yarrows, with secondary structures, including wags, is situated on a spur projecting into the Loch of Yarrows, isolated from the mainland by a ditch 25-30ft wide.
Before excavation by Anderson in 1866-7 the remains appeared as a grass-covered mound 18-20ft high. The broch consisted of a circular wall, 12-13ft thick and then 15ft high, enclosing an area 30ft diameter. The relics were presented to NMAS.
1910 the wall stood c11ft high. Much of structure was still visible, and the walls of the secondary structures were in good condition.
Anderson also found five human skeletons, one with a 13t-14th century brass brooch, in the mound.
J Anderson 1873; 1883; 1868; RCAHMS 1911.

A broch and settlement, generally as described by RCAHMS, partly waterlogged due to damming of Loch of Yarrows. The encircling ditch is now visible as a vague silted-up marshy area. The name 'Cairns of Yarrows' is no longer used locally.
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 2 May 1967.

This broch is probably an early form. A stretch of lintelled ground-level gallery, unnoted by the excavator, is in NE arc. The entrance in E is probably primary, that at the foot of the mural stair probably being pushed through when the settlement outside was being built. A secondary wall has been introduced to the interior of the broch, which is usually an indication that it has been converted into a dwelling and its high wall destroyed.
E W Mackie 1975.

Active erosion was noted at broch. Date 04/00.
Causes included visitors, stock and unstable walls were visible at broch entrance. See Hlink photos.
J Aitken : 24/01/01.

Sources/Archives (15)



Grid reference Centred ND 3082 4349 (57m by 52m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND34SW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (1)

  • BROOCH (Medieval - 1058 AD to 1559 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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