By Bernie Bell

Orkney has more than its fair share of brochs (aka Iron Age Roundhouses).  Some are in a fine state of repair, some, just grassy mounds in the landscape.

‘The Orkney News’, has previously presented a selection of these, in a series entitled ‘Name That Broch’,  and has also covered the previous Brochtoberfests held in Orkney

Brochtoberfest! 2019 will soon be upon us, and I thought I’d present the reader with a different angle on brochs, or, brochs, from a different angle – that being – from above!

Bobby Friel has taken some fine aerial views of The Cairns broch, South Ronaldsay, and, with Lindsay Kemp’s over view of the Iron Age Roundhouse at the Swandro dig on Rousay , these help us to see the interesting, and appealing, shapes and curves involved in the building  of these impressive structures.

These images of The Cairns, ‘lifted’, with the kind permission of Martin Carruthers, from the UHI Archaeology Dept. blog show what I mean………….

The Cairns

Credit: UHI Institute of Archaeology

Digging done, recording done, covered up for another season, The Cairns, sleeps……….

The Cairns

Credit: UHI Institute of Archaeology

Here we have a pearl of an image, by Lindsey Kemp, of the Iron Age Roundhouse, Swandro, ‘lifted’, with the permission, and assistance, of Caz Mamwell,  from the Swandro Newsletter – a good way to keep up with what’s happening, outside the digging season….

Swandro dig

And there’s a late addition……….the dig at Swartigill in Caitness, has un-earthed a structure which the archaeologists are referring to as a ‘roundhouse’, so, I’ll stick my neck out, and include it in the aerial views of Brochs and Iron Age Roundhouses!  Again, a beautifully clear image by Bobby Friel.


BROCHTOBERFEST! –  Orkney Archaeology Society’s celebration of all things Broch and Iron Age, this year takes place in Kirkwall, Orkney, on the weekend of October 19th/20th

Check the OAS website  or Facebook  for further details.

October – ‘tis the season to be Brochy!

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4 replies »

  1. Bernie, you got me all excited when I envisaged a Grand Tour of Orkney Brochs swilling Steins of fine Bavarian Bier. Brought back memories of a long weekend I spent in Munich some years ago and fell in with some partying locals who took me to all the best Bier Kellers when they found out I was an Irish/Scot then making sure I was delivered safely back to my Hotel then collecting me again the next day.

    On the day of my departure, they came to the station to see me safely on to my train to Frankfurt am Main and my Lufthansa flight home. I’ve always wanted to do it all again but my liver tells me once in a lifetime is enough but you know I think my liver might be wrong for they were such wonderful company and every year they keep asking.

    Back to the real world some great pics, do you have any Brochs in Orkney as well preserved as Clickimin and Moussa Brochs?

  2. Not quite…not exactly…..the Midhowe broch on Rousay is in very good nick , as is the Broch of Gurness in Evie

    I suspect you have a bias for Shetland brochs! Now, why might that be?

    The nearest we get to carousing at a broch, is – sometimes we take sandwiches and a flask of tea, and a small flask of whisky, sit on a wall in the Broch of Gurness, eat our sandwiches, drink our tea, with a tot of whisky in it (Higland Park or Jamesons), and look about us …enjoying what’s there.

    I’m sure there was much merriment in the brochs in the past, as I wrote of here…….

    We mean to get to Shetland, one day, and visit Clickimin and Mousa…one day……

  3. Yesterday evening, we watched a recorded episode of Paul Merton’s ‘Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs’, in which he visits a broch called Dun Dornaigil, near Loch Hope. He also visits Lotte Glob and sees her ‘Book Broch’.
    This link should take you to the episode –

    Good timing for the Brochtoberfest!
    I wasn’t aware of Dun Dornaigil – which is a beauty – with an impressive triangular lintel stone!

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