MHG9856 - Broch, Kilphedir


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Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

Kilphedir, NC91NE0027

Brochs are round, tower-like houses, their monumental size intended to display wealth and status of agricultural communities who lived in them. They were occupied in the later Iron Age and occur frequently in the north and west of Scotland. (41)
This is one of the most impressive brochs in the Highlands. Its position high above the strath ensures extensive views up and down the valley. It is constructed from large, rounded boulders of pink granite, which, while they are very difficult to build with and have probably contributed to its present ruinous state, give this broch a very distinct appearance. (60)
In spite of the huge scale of the central tower, the impact of the broch is further heightened by the enormous banks and ditches which surround it. The entrance is protected by an extra length of rampart. (37)
Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.
Close-Brooks, J., 1995. Exploring Scotland’s Heritage. The Highlands. Edinburgh: HMSO, 149-50, No. 93.
Gourlay, R., 1996. Sutherland. An Archaeological Guide. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 71-2.
RCAHMS. 1911. Sutherland. Edinburgh: HMSO, 104-5, No. 307.
Information from SCRAN Project, March 2000

(NC 9943 1891) Broch (NR) OS 6"map, (1964)

Situated on summit of a hillock is a broch measuring 33' NE-SW by 32' transversely, within a wall 7' average height and 12'6" thick, widening to 15'6" at the entrance which is 3' wide at the exterior, and 4'10" at interior It is checked for a door, but no entrance to a guard chamber is visible. Opposite entrance there is a passage giving access to stairway and a ground floor mural chamber.
The commanding position of the broch is strengthened by outworks, probably the most impressive in Sutherland. The base of the hillock is encircled by a ditch 9' deep below an outer rampart 14' broad. A short outer ditch runs parallel with inner one for about 20' at N end. A small oval enclosure is contained in outer rampart to W side of broch. The course of ditch is broken on N side by the approach which passes between its open ends.
A quartzite pebble from the broch is in Dunrobin Museum Acc No: 1869.5 (Information from TS of Catalogue of Dunrobin Museum, by A S Henshall). J M Joass 1865; J Nicol 1910; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; R W Feachem 1963; A Young 1964; E W MacKie 1975.

This broch has remained unaltered since the visit by the RCAHMS. Re-surveyed at 1:10560
Visited by OS (W D J) 20 May 1960 and (N K B) 6 October 1976.

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. <1>

Lynn Fraser submitted a photograph of this broch via the Highland HER Facebook page. <2>

The site is included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <3>

The object in Dunrobin Castle Museum (1869.5) has been used for grinding on one end and hammering on the other. It was catalogued during an inventory of Dunrobin Castle Museum's collection in 2019 by ARCH. It is on display as a pestle and mortar with X56 in case 27, shelf B. <4>

Sources/Archives (33)



Grid reference Centred NC 9943 1890 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC91NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish KILDONAN

Finds (1)

  • PESTLE? (Undated)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (4)

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