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Scotland Shetland Brochs


Brochs were built as tall defensive structures in the Iron Age from 2 about 300BC -1000AD and are mainly found in the north of Scotland and the off shore islands.

They were constructed with two concentric, dry-stone walls around a circular courtyard. The inner gap between the stone walls had steps leading to the roof as well as small rooms and storage areas off. Little is actually known why brochs were built. They may have been status symbols of an important warrior chief. Alternatively they could have been used as a safe refuge in times of trouble for the community and their livestock.

Now most exist as a small round circle of stones - the rest having been removed for building materials .

Culswick Broch

Burraland Broch sits above the cliffs overlooking the sea.

Burraland 1.png


The most impressive Broch on Shetland is Mousa on a small island off the coast of Mainland Shetland and reached by a short ferry trip. It is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.


The walls still stand over 40’ high and there is a single entrance, leading to the central courtyard, which was the main living area.

Mousa court.jpg

The brochs were made using dry stone walling. A series of lintels support openings which achieve strength while also limiting weight. They also allow some light onto the spiral staircase.


A stone spiral staircase climbs between the walls leading to the roof with its walkway around the top.



There are excellent views from here over the surrounding countryside. with its views over the surrounding countryside.


Clickimin Broch standing on an island in the Loch of Clickamin on the edge of Lerwick is also in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. It is a much larger and more complex structure with smaller buildings. It was originally reached by causeway and was surrounded by a walled enclosure with a blockhouse guarding the entrance to the broch.


Clickmin .jpg

The area has been inhabited for around 1500 years. In one corner of the site is the remains of a Bronze Age house with outbuildings and enclosure. Around 500 BCE, Celtic settlers arrived and enclosed the site with a stone wall. The central broch was built later along with the blockhouse.

The broch was partially reconstructed during the C19th. Many of the low walls are from the earlier structures.

A blockhouse guarded the entrance to the broch which was entered through a low doorway.



The remains of the internal staircase can still be seen in the broch walls.


The Iron Age Broch at Jarlshof was also surrounded by smaller wheel houses.


(The photographs have been scanned from slides, which explains the poor quality and slight colour cast in some of them.)

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