Scottish Brochs

Latest - Clachtoll broch (106) 26/11/17

Brochs are among Scotland's most impressive prehistoric buildings, the large majority of them dating from around 100 BC to 100 AD, the time of the Roman invasion of Britain. There are over 500 known sites of these iron age structures in Scotland, but it is only in the Highlands and Islands that brochs are to be found in any numbers.

Huge windowless towers, ingeniously engineered, they represent the pinnacle of dry-stone wall building, and remain one of the finest construction achievements of Iron Age Europe. Brochs were almost certainly originally roofed and would have had several timber floors known as galleries. 

Most likely, brochs combined a number of possible uses, such as defensive fortifications and farm buildings, and served differing purposes in different ages. However, that most brochs on the Scottish mainland sprang up during a very short period of time coinciding with the Roman invasion of Britain is surely not chance. When you consider that the best weapons at the time were swords, bows, and spears, they were more than adequate as defensive forts. Were they successful? Some may claim they had poor defensive qualities, but remember, Scotland was never conquered by the Romans despite four military campaigns.

The densest concentrations of brochs are in Sutherland, Caithness, the Orkney islands, and the Shetland islands, with a great number in the Hebrides, from the west coast of Lewis to Skye. There are also a few scattered around the borders, in Dumfries and Galloway, and near Stirling.

With much still to be learned about the Scottish people at that time, and the effect the Romans landing in England in 55 BC had on them, the origins of brochs remains a subject of continuing research and lively debate. It is hoped this site will help to dispel a few of the myths surrounding them.