A record of our ancient Brochs, Hill-forts and Sculptured Stones of Scotland

Brounaban Broch


N.M.R. number:- ND34SW33 Highland HER number:- MHG2204   OS Grid Ref:- ND32314347



Site Description:-

Brounaban Broch stands on flat arable ground. The site is inconspicuous and has been variously a garden and a sheep fank and is now full of nettles.  The internal wall survives to a height of just under 1m with later addition of stones on the top and access passages blocked up. Access is from the busy A99 where an old bend in the road gives refuge for parking. The occupants of the house just north may allow safer parking in their drive, which is also the start of the track leading towards the site past Borrowston Quarry and crossing the old narrow gauge railway track bed. There may be livestock in the vicinity and muddy areas underfoot. The broch sits below a sandstone outcrop which probably provided the wall material.


Major Structural Notes:-

The outside diameter is estimated at about 17.5m with a wall thickness of 4.4m with an inside diameter of 8.6m. The entrance passage has no visible ‘guard cells’. An intra-mural cell was accessed from an opening, now blocked, just to the north of the entrance. In the north quadrant a passage gave access to a further cell and a stair rising clockwise upwards above the cell in the north-east already mentioned. Another intra-mural cell was found in the west quadrant but is no longer visible. In the south quadrant was a passage leading to, on the left, a gallery which almost reached the entrance passage and on the right, a gallery and rising stair. It appears that this passage, in common with others including that at Yarrows over the hill to the west, was continued through the outer walls to create another access from the outside. Most of this area of the broch is now hidden or lost.


Associated Structures:-

There appear to be no structures nearby and the field appears to have been cultivated up to the walls, possibly removing any features, although a ‘chamber’ was seen outside the southern entrance, possibly for a burial


Site Setting:-

The broch sits on the flat farmland with views eastwards around to the north. Fresh water was available from an adjacent stream which has now been drained. The landscape is the eastern part of the archaeologically busy Yarrows area and includes 9 other brochs within a 4Km radius. Chambered Cairns, stone rows and hillforts are also nearby.


Special Mentions:-

The plan shows a thickening of the internal wall just inside the entrance for about 90 degrees. This has been removed but was very similar to that still at Whitegate Broch on the shore of Sinclair Bay north of Wick. A kist was found with a skeleton within the Brounaban structure. Like many other broch sites, a later burial inserted possibly as part of a closure ritual.


 Sources: Site visits, Highland HER and RCAHMS Canmore database which holds a copy of the plan (SC1018728) from SAS archives by H. Dryden and RT Shearer(1871).  Archaeologica Scotica vol 5 p142.