MHG9971 - Broch, Kilearnan


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Type and Period (1)

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

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Full Description

Kilearnan, NC91NW0002

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)

Kilearnan broch is located away from the heart of the Strath of Kildonan, on the bank of a large burn and at the foot of a large area of fertile agricultural ground. This may always have been a crossing point, as the broch stands above a ford, from where the track curves up the slope and through the outer defences of the broch. (63)

Much of the stone from the broch has tumbled down the slope towards the burn. Enough remains to show the scale of the broch and the quality of the stonework in the wall facings. A modern waymarker cairn has been built on the highest point of the mound. (48)


Armit, I., 1997. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh: Batsford.

Gourlay, R., 1996. Sutherland. An Archaeological Guide. Edinburgh: Birlinn.

RCAHMS. 1911. Sutherland. Edinburgh: HMSO, 106, No. 312.

Information from SCRAN Project, March, 2000

(NC 9216 1887) Broch (NR). OS 6"map, (1964)

On the W bank of the Allt a' Choire Mhoir, are the ruins of a broch. No portion of the inside of the wall is discernable, and only here and there the lowest course of the outer face.
RCAHMS 1911.

The remains of this broch now appear as a prominent rubble covered mound some 3.0m high on the N side, and falling steeply to the burn in the S. Inside, two short sections of inner face are visible giving an internal diameter of circa 10.0m. In the SE a short length of wall face is by its plan position either a displacement of the inner face, or outer face of a mural chamber. A length of broch outer face in the SW gives the wall a thickness of approximately 4.9m. Below this face, two short stretches of set stones appear to be the remains of a revetment or outer wall of indefinite purpose. The entrance may have been in the E, where there is a collapse. From the edge of the steep gully in the SE round to the NW are the remains of a shallow ditch and low stone rampart. It has been mutilated by an old track and later work.
Revised at 1/10,000. Visited by OS (J D) 31 May 1961 and (J B) 1 April 1976.

NC91 1 ALLT a' CHOIRE MHOIR (‘Kilearnan’)
NC/9216 1887
Probable broch in Kildonan, Sutherland, in the form of a conspicuous rubble-covered mound next to the steep side of the burn (allt) valley; the stream leads down to the river Helmsdale. Traces of the inner and outer face are visible, indicating a thick-walled circular building with an internal diameter of 10.0m and a wall about 4.9m thick. By 1985 the internal diameter was evidently not measurable [3]. From the edge of the steep gulley on the south-east and round to the north-west are traces of outer defences in the form of a shallow ditch and a low, external stone rampart. On the east side, where the approach to the site is also over level ground, there appear to be no outer defences [3].
Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC 91 NW 2: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 106, no. 312: 3. Swanson (ms) 1985, 792 –93 and plan. <1>

Sources/Archives (14)



Grid reference Centred NC 9215 1887 (70m by 70m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC91NW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish KILDONAN

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