Ancient Monuments

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Levenwick, broch 515m east of Burgadies

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland South, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 59.9601 / 59°57'36"N

Longitude: -1.2577 / 1°15'27"W

OS Eastings: 441556

OS Northings: 1119693

OS Grid: HU415196

Mapcode National: GBR R27D.Y49

Mapcode Global: XHD44.1X69

Entry Name: Levenwick, broch 515m E of Burgadies

Scheduled Date: 5 October 1934

Last Amended: 26 September 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2050

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch

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), an Iron Age wheelhouse constructed within the broch, and the remains of an outer rampart enclosing an area around the broch, within which there are further turf-covered Iron Age (possibly Pictish) structures and a sheepfold of 19th-century date. The broch is around 18m in diameter and stands up to 4m high. The monument stands at approximately 15m above sea level on a rocky coastal promontory. It occupies a commanding position overlooking the southern approach by sea to Sand Wick, Hos Wick, and Channer Wick, 3km to the northeast. 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. It extends to the high water mark at the coastal edge.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The broch structure remains impressive despite evidence of post-abandonment disturbance to construct the sheepfold and partial excavation of the broch in the 19th century. The site's survival has also been affected by coastal erosion, with historical records of inundation by extreme storm events and evidence of ongoing deterioration. Nevertheless, the N side of the broch's outer wall survives to a height of 2m in places. In the interior, evidence of the main entrance survives on the E wall, where, at lower level, the inner wall face of a wheelhouse is also visible to a depth of 2m below ground level, between mounds of tumbled stone.

Antiquarian excavation has revealed much information about the construction of the buildings, and identified occupation deposits within the wheelhouse structure, including animal bones and wood fragments. Future investigation may allow researchers to date more accurately the construction of the broch and the developmental sequence of the broch, the later wheelhouse and the surrounding features. In addition, the buried remains have considerable potential to enhance understanding of the use and function of brochs, wheelhouses and other types of Iron Age structure, and of the daily lives of the people who occupied them. There is potential for the recovery of additional artefacts and environmental evidence that may illuminate understanding of the diet, economy and social status of the occupants, and the extent to which this varied over time.

Contextual characteristics

The broch is one of over 130 known in Shetland. Situated in a coastal setting with higher fertile ground to the west, the remains at Levenwick represent a fine example of a coastal broch incorporating a later wheelhouse and surrounding buildings. As such, this monument has considerable potential to enhance our understanding of the relationship between brochs and wheelhouses across Shetland, and their relationship with the wider landscape. Brochs have been viewed as having a defensive function, or simply as being the prestige dwellings of an elite keen to display its status; while wheelhouses have been interpreted as having both domestic and ritual functions. The broch at Levenwick is one of a series of brochs occupying strategic coastal locations, the nearest of which is a broch at Clumlie, 2km to the south.

Associative characteristics

The broch is depicted and labelled 'Brough' on the Ordnance Survey first edition map. The site has been subject to antiquarian attention. It was first mentioned by Sir Robert Sibbald in his survey published in 1711; then visited in 1855 by Sir Henry Dryden; and excavated in 1869 by Gilbert Goudie.

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 and wheelhouses, and the relationship between them. The monument comprises a significant cluster of large Iron Age buildings and later structures, offering the potential to study the relationship between them and related sites nearby. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the development and reuse of brochs and related structures in Shetland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland




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. 80-81.

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. 24.

Goudie, G 1873, 'Notice of excavations in a broch and adjacent tumuli near Levenwick, in the Parish of Dunrossness, Zetland', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 9, 212-219

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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