Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Broch of Aithsetter, broch 315m ENE of Breck

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland South, Shetland Islands

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 60.0555 / 60°3'19"N

Longitude: -1.1994 / 1°11'57"W

OS Eastings: 444679

OS Northings: 1130353

OS Grid: HU446303

Mapcode National: GBR R2D5.12H

Mapcode Global: XHD3R.SJP5

Entry Name: Broch of Aithsetter, broch 315m ENE of Breck

Scheduled Date: 31 October 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13033

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch; Secular: house

Location: Dunrossness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland South

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises a broch of Iron Age date, built probably between 500 BC and AD 200, the remains of two ramparts on the landward side of the broch and several sub-circular hollows that may represent later houses. The broch survives as a very large turf-covered mound. The ramparts and possible houses also survive as earthworks. The monument lies about 20m above sea level, on a peninsula surrounded by cliffs.

The turf-covered mound stands around 2.5m high. Some of the outer facing stones of the broch are visible at the base of the mound, indicating that the tower had a diameter of about 20m. There are hollows to the south suggesting the presence of at least three small sub-circular houses, possibly dating to between AD 200 and AD 800. One of these, south-west of the broch, comprises three distinct conjoined cells. Two turf-covered ramparts survive best to the south-east of the broch, close to the cliff. The tops of their banks are about 10m apart and stand about 1.5m above the base of an intervening ditch. These earthworks close the neck of the peninsula, protecting an area measuring some 70m NE-SW by 50m transversely, within which the broch is centrally placed. A relatively flat area of ground lies to the north of the broch at the end of the peninsula.

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 scheduled area extends to the mean high water mark to the north and east. It specifically excludes the above-ground elements of a post-and-wire fence on the south side of the monument.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Although the broch has partially collapsed, the surviving mound is in good condition and shows no sign of recent damage. It is very probable that substantial buried remains of the broch's lower courses and foundations are preserved beneath the mound. The earthwork features nearby suggest that this is a complex, multi-phase monument that has evidence for a development sequence that may include re-use of the site after the abandonment of the broch tower. There is a strong 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 and probable later structures. 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 artefacts and ecofacts that may 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 around 200 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. Brochs have been viewed as having a defensive or offensive function, or simply as being the prestige dwellings and farms of an elite keen to display its status. The buried remains at Aithsetter have high potential to contribute to these questions and may provide insight into the nature and use of these structures and the landscape immediately around them. The probable structures on the south side of the broch mound can be compared to early historic structures at other nearby brochs such as Burraland and indicate re-use of the broch.

Associative characteristics

The broch is depicted and labelled 'brough' on the Ordnance Survey first edition map.

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 potential to study the relationship between the broch itself and the ramparts, to ascertain its duration of use, and to compare the use of the broch with that of several probable sub-circular structures that cluster on its south side. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the development and re-use of brochs in the Shetland Islands.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as HU43SW 2. The Shetland Amenity Trust SMR records the site as MSN839.


Armit, I 2003, Towers in the North, Stroud: Tempus.

Fojut, N 1982, 'Towards a Geography of Shetland Brochs', Glasgow Archaeological Journal 1982, 48.

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.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.