Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Windhouse, broch 75m west of

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.6076 / 60°36'27"N

Longitude: -1.1104 / 1°6'37"W

OS Eastings: 448809

OS Northings: 1191909

OS Grid: HU488919

Mapcode National: GBR R0LP.ZVJ

Mapcode Global: XHF7T.YMSX

Entry Name: Windhouse, broch 75m W of

Scheduled Date: 23 May 1934

Last Amended: 16 March 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2093

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch

Location: Yell

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises a broch of Iron Age date, built probably between 500 BC and AD 200. The broch is visible as a large turf-covered mound, with a midden on the west side. The mound stands 3m high and measures about 17.5m in diameter. The monument lies about 40m above sea level, on the summit of a low hill. The monument was first scheduled in 1934 but the documentation does not meet modern standards; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences, and the gate on the east side, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

This is a well-preserved broch mound with evidence for intact drystone masonry surviving to 3m in height. It is very probable that substantial buried remains of the broch's lower courses and foundations are preserved beneath the mound. We know from previous partial excavation of the broch that human and animal bones survive on the site. As the monument has not been fully excavated, there is a high likelihood that buried archaeological deposits associated with the monument's construction, use and abandonment are preserved. These may allow future researchers to date construction of the broch, and compare this with the dates of the rampart defences. In addition, the buried remains have considerable potential to enhance understanding of the use and function of brochs and the daily lives of the people who occupied them. There is potential for the recovery of artefacts and ecofacts that could illuminate the diet, economy, and social status of the occupants and the extent to which this varied over time.

Contextual characteristics

This broch is one of over 130 known in Shetland. It has potential to enhance our understanding of the relationship between brochs, the extent to which they were contemporary, and their relationship with the wider landscape. The monument has good views to the south end of Whale Firth and lies close to less substantial prehistoric houses, a chambered cairn, a burial ground and a possible medieval chapel site. It therefore has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the development of society over time. Brochs have been viewed as having a defensive or offensive function, or simply as being the prestige dwellings of an elite keen to display its status. The buried remains at Windhouse have the potential to help us address these questions and to provide insight into the nature and use of these structures and the landscape immediately around them.

Associative characteristics

The broch is adjacent to Windhouse, a derelict laird's house that is reputedly the most haunted house in Britain.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular of Iron Age Shetland and the role and function of brochs. The monument offers high potential to study the relationship between the broch with other monuments nearby, and with the wider landscape. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the development and reuse of brochs in Shetland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as Yell, Windhouse, broch, HU49SE4, Canmore ID 1256. Shetland Amenity Trust Sites and Monuments Record records the Monument as Windhouse, MSN2243, PrefRef 2126.


Mackie, E W 2002, The roundhouses, brochs and wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700BC-AD500: architecture and material culture, Part 1: The Orkney and Shetland Isles. BAR British Series 342: Oxford, 56.

RCAHMS, 1946 The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Twelfth report with an inventory of the ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 3v Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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