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Nybster Broch, Caithness (Credit: Caithness Broch Project)
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The Brochs of Caithness

By Kenneth McElroy

The region has for so long been at the forefront of innovation and the white-hot heat of technology - but why not now embrace the past?

A profusion of archaeological treasures awaits the visitor to Caithness. From prehistoric cairns to perilously- positioned castles, the region is layered with the remnants of thousands of years of human endeavour. Of all Caithness’ ancient wonders, though, there is one which stands tall above the rest, and has the potential to become a powerful symbol for the county.

Two thousand years ago, under the great cathedral skies of Caithness, legendary towers of stone were raised, today we call them brochs. These circular drystone structures, between 30 and 60 feet high, are often described as the skyscrapers of their time, and the pinnacles of prehistoric engineering. One broch would be an imposing sight: Caithness has around two hundred! They can be found across the county, sheltered in the straths, hidden amongst the hills, sheathed in heather.

It is thought the brochs were used as dwellings - perhaps for a family or a chieftain - though these buildings often pose just as many questions as they do answers. And so, it is the aim of Caithness Broch Project to construct a full-scale replica broch, which would serve to better understand how and why these structures were ever built.

Traditional and authentic skills will be employed, and a vivid piece of 'living prehistory’ will be conjured from its creation. Visitors will be transported back to the Iron Age and provided with an experience quite unlike anything else in Scotland: the broch will become an unmissable attraction for a place like no other.

This is particularly important: Caithness needs to consider new avenues of diversification and sustainability. The region has for so long been at the forefront of innovation and the white-hot heat of technology - but why not now embrace the past?

Caithness is, after all, defined by its rich archaeological landscape, and the brochs serve as as enigmatic component of both the region's past and of its potential. The brochs of Caithness are ancient stories wrought from the ground, an ancestral identity given presence.

Click here to learn more about the work and aims of the Caithness Broch Project.

We Want to Hear From You!

Share your stories of archaeological sites which you feel represent the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands

Stories are at the heart of what we do as a project and we are always looking to learn more about what the Highlands and Islands means to people who live, work, and visit here.

Archaeological sites in the Highlands and Islands are all vessels for stories from past eras gone by. The stories held in the brochs of Caithness are no exception, and provide a unique snapshot of life of individuals in the Iron Age. We would love to know, what archaeological sites do you feel represents the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands? Tell us more below, we can't wait to hear from you!

Click here to share your story through our online story portal