MHG661 - Housle Cairn Broch


Remains of Iron Age Broch.

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Housle Cairn (NR) Stone Cists containing Human Remains, Bronze Rings, Iron Spearheads and Pottery found (NAT)
OS 6" map, Caithness, 2nd ed., (1907)

'Housle Cairn' (info from estate map). A mound about 250 links (ie. approx 50m) in diameter and 10ft high wherein, c1850, several stone cists containing human remains were discovered, also bronze rings, iron spearheads in which were remains of wood, a crude earthenware dish of blue clay, and animal bones with deer horns. On top of cairn is a modern one 5.5ft high (ONB 1872).
RCAHMS 1911; A Graham 1949; Name Book 1872

Housel Cairn: supposed broch. A mound, sharply scarped all round, on top of which are fragmentary ruins which, though appearing to be those of a broch, are so pillaged that definite measurements are unobtainable (RCAHMS 1911).

Uncertain broch (Graham 1949)

Housel Cairn (NR) OS 6" map, (1960)

'Housle Cairn' is 46m in overall diameter and 3.5m high and has been severely mutilated and dug into in NE where traces of walling are now clearly visible. This walling, and the remains of a mound 24m in diameter on top of the 'cairn' leave no doubt that these are remains of a broch. There is now no trace of modern cairn. Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (R D) 24 March 1965

Housle Cairn (NAT) Broch (NR) OS 6" map, (1970)

The remains of this much disturbed broch mound are as described by the previous field investigator.
Visited by OS (J B) 22 December 1981

'Broch', 'Housle Cairn'. Diameter: 50m. Circular grassy mound 4m high heavily quarried, flat-topped, with two visible terraces on the SW side. Orientation SW-NE.
Rectangular remains (ND 1190 5958). Dimensions: 3.5 x 2m. Rectangular depression with some evidence of a stone setting at NE end. Orientation NE-SW. [Grid ref for rectangular remains does not coincide with location of cist depicted on the 'broch' mound that is shown on first edition of OS 6-inch map (Caithness 1876, sheet xvii). It places the remains on S side of mound.
Info from RCAHMS (FO) 14 February 1996]
R J Mercer, NMRS MS/828/19, 1995

ND15 14 HOUSLE CAIRN ('Gerston')
ND/1190 5960
A probable broch in Halkirk, Caith-ness, consisting of a much-pillaged large mound about 24m in diameter on top of a larger 'cairn'; this is the classic Caithness 'mound on mound' [3]. In about 1850 some cists were found here with human remains and other finds, including iron [2]. By 1965 traces of a curved wallface had been exposed which makes the diagnosis of the mound on top as a broch more likely [1].
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 15 NW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1911b, 35, no. 115: 3. Graham 1947, 96: 4. Swanson (ms) 1985, 641.

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred ND 1190 5959 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND15NW
Civil Parish HALKIRK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (6)

  • RING (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • DISH (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SPEARHEAD (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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