Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Keiss Broch

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.533 / 58°31'58"N

Longitude: -3.1126 / 3°6'45"W

OS Eastings: 335312

OS Northings: 961081

OS Grid: ND353610

Mapcode National: GBR L6P5.DW5

Mapcode Global: WH6D2.5S1D

Entry Name: Keiss Broch

Scheduled Date: 15 June 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13623

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch

Location: Wick/Wick

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument is a broch, a complex stone-built substantial roundhouse, dating from the Iron Age (between 600 BC and 400 AD). The broch is visible as a low grass-covered stony mound with a central depression that contains traces of surviving walling and the entrance. It is located on a raised beach overlooking Sinclair's Bay.

The broch measures about 18.9m in overall diameter, while the broch has an internal diameter of around 11.6m and stands to about 2m in height. An entrance with a lintel is visible on the east side of the broch, while exposed boulders indicate the presence of the inner and outer faces of the broch wall. The interior of the broch was divided by flagstone partitions, visible as stones projecting above the turf, while externally there are a number of enclosures. The internal divisions and the outbuildings appear to be secondary to the construction of the broch.

The scheduled area is circular in plan, measuring 40m in diameter, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above ground elements of the dry-stone wall and post-and-wire fence, to allow for their maintenance and upkeep.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

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 society in Caithness and the function, use and development of brochs. This is a well-preserved example of a broch with identifiable architectural features including an entrance, intramural cells and evidence for an intermural stair. The presence of secondary internal and external structures also demonstrates an extended development history at this site. The broch adds to our understanding of settlement patterns and social structure during the Iron Age around Sinclair's Bay and this potential is enhanced by the broadly contemporary monuments in the vicinity, specifically the high density of brochs around Keiss. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the development, use and re-use of brochs, and the nature of Iron Age society, economy and social hierarchy in the north of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 9318 (accessed on 13/04/2015).

The Highland Council HER reference is MHG1659.

Anderson, J. (1901) Notices of nine Brochs along the Caithness coast from Keiss Bay to Skirza Head, excavated by Sir Francis Tress Barry, Bart., MP., of Keiss Castle, Caithness , Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 35, 1900-1. Page(s): 127 plan

Barber, J. and Heald, A. (2015) Caithness Archaeology: Aspects of Prehistory, Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath.

Heald, A. and Jackson, A. (2001) Towards a new understanding of Iron Age Caithness , Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 131, 2001. Page(s): 129-47

MacKie, E. W. (2007) The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c. 700 BC - AD 500: architecture and material culture. Part 2 The Mainland and the Western Islands . BAR, vol 444. Oxford. Page(s): 465-472.

RCAHMS. (1911) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness. London. Page(s): 154-5, No. 515


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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