MHG42433 - Midden - Road Broch


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • MIDDEN (Mesolithic to Late Iron Age - 8000 BC? to 560 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

The Road Broch (MHG1650) is one of the best examples of a 1st phase broch (1st centuries BC and AD), although it was re-used during the Broch II phase (2nd, 3rd centuries AD) and again during the post-broch era. It was built on a mesolithic kitchen midden. <1>

Samuel Laing explored an extensive shell midden at Keiss in 1864. It consisted of:
"… a great mass of shells, at least five feet deep, and covering an area of several hundred square yards, (which) rests on the natural soil and is itself covered by the foundation of a massive building . . ."
Numerous stone, quartz and bone implements were found among the shells and have been considered to be of early post-Mesolithic age and "not unlike the late Larnian" (Mesolithic culture) in north-east Ireland. Very similar material has been found in middens at Freswick Bay, where sherds of Beaker pottery were also found [figs. 117 and 118]. The deposits are presumably at least two, and perhaps up to three, thousand years older than the broch. <3> <4>

Pre-broch era – the shell midden
Laing recovered a quantity of material from this midden including some potsherds, chipped flints, stone implements including hammer-stones, some smaller pebbles interpreted as sling stones, and various pointed bone implements. The age of this midden is uncertain but, if the potsherds were truly found in it (of which one cannot now be certain), it need not antedate the broch by any great time. If it is analogous to the Freswick midden a date in the third millennium BC seems plausible. <4>

From Laing's excavations
This material all came from the shell midden under the broch.
Flint and stone tools included chipped flints, hammerstones made from beach pebbles, a rude mortar and some small beach pebbles interpreted as sling-stones.
Bone tools included 3 points (called "arrowheads" [figs. 26-28], about 18 "skewers" or awls [figs. 29-31] made from both bone and horn.
There was also some "rude pottery". However in the National Museums of Scotland there are sherds among Laing's collection which do not fit this description, being a thin, fine, smooth ware with a near black surface (nos. 00-00). Presumably this material, which is clearly of Iron Age date, belongs to the broch horizon.
Food refuse included periwinkles ("4/5ths" of the total) and some animal bones (unidentified). <2> <4>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred ND 3487 6151 (14m by 14m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND36SW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.