Ancient Monuments

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Carn A' Chladha, broch

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.4525 / 58°27'9"N

Longitude: -3.3185 / 3°19'6"W

OS Eastings: 323148

OS Northings: 952336

OS Grid: ND231523

Mapcode National: GBR L65D.2K4

Mapcode Global: WH6DC.0T13

Entry Name: Carn A' Chladha, broch

Scheduled Date: 6 February 2017

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13632

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch

Location: Watten

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument is a broch, a complex stone-built substantial roundhouse, dating to the Iron Age (between 600 BC and AD 400). It is visible as a grass-covered stony mound 3m high and about 21m in diameter. The monument is located approximately 50m above sea level, on the southwest end of a narrow spur of rising land and lies approximately 100m west of Scouthal Burn.

The broch is prominently sited on an artificially altered mound at the southwest end of natural spur that rises from ground level at it northeast end. This spur appears to have formed the approach to the broch which sits on a levelled mound approximately 1m high with a terrace between 1m and 3.5m wide running round it which broadens out at the approach to the broch. The broch is approximately 21m in diameter with grass covered collapsed walls standing to 3m in height. A stretch of outer facing stones are visible for approximately 3.5m at the south southeast arc of the broch.

The scheduled area is irregular in shape, includes 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 following are excluded from the scheduling; the top 30cm of the track to the southeast and east and any post and wire fences.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cutlrual significance of the monument has been assesed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is a broch, visible as a prominent grass-covered mound with some exposed outer walling. The mound is an accumulation of collapsed building material over the lower levels of the broch structure and its flooring. It appears relatively undisturbed and surviving features are likely to include the broch walls, intramural cells and stairs, hearths and internal partitions. In addition, there may be later structures within or around the abandoned broch tower. By analogy with a number of excavated brochs, this broch and any associated structures will contain deposits rich in occupation debris, artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence that can tell us about how people lived, their trade and exchange contacts, and their social status, as well as provide information about broch architecture and construction methods.

The siting of the broch at the end of a long, narrow, spur is of significance. The highest point has been adapted to provide a level platform for the broch, while the tail of the spur would have served as an approach to the broch and may itself have been adapted for this purpose. Further research could establish the relationship between the broch and the natural feature, and how it was altered for the purposes of siting the broch. The location of the broch and terracing around the broch may indicate that it is the site of an earlier dun with the defences being re-used and altered by the broch builders. The larger terraced area to the north could be a later addition to the site or relate to an earlier phase of development. Scientific investigation would allow us to develop a better understanding of the chronology of the site, its development sequence and the extent that the natural spur was altered as part of the construction of the broch.

Brochs in Caithness are typically thought to date from between 600 BC and AD 400. They are a specific development of complex Atlantic roundhouses and were large complex structures that would have had numerous purposes and a multifaceted role in prehistoric society.  They could have accommodated either an extended family or a small community and the construction of broch towers is often understood in terms of elite settlement. Some interpretations have stressed a role as fortified or defensive sites, possibly serving a community across a wider area. The location of Carn a' Chladha supports the view that defensive considerations could be a factor in the location of brochs but the choice of such prominent sites in the landscape could also relate to control over land and route ways and/or conspicuous demonstrations of status.

Contextual Characteristics

Brochs are a widespread class of monument across northern Scotland. This example is within a small group of brochs in the Watten area, mostly located along the burns that feed Loch Watten. These include Bail a' Chairn broch (scheduled monument reference SM13634, Canmore ID 8805) located 700m to the southwest, Achingale broch (Canmore ID 8783) and Nether Banks broch (scheduled monument reference SM609, Canmore ID 8782), 1.7km and 1.9km respectively north northeast of Carn a' Chladha. Together they offer the potential to study a group of brochs within a distinct geographic area (along the course of the Scouthal Burn) and draw comparisons with evidence from other brochs around the locality and in Caithness more widely.

Many broch towers were deliberately sited to be focal points in the landscape, and is Carn a' Chladha broch is such an example; it is sited in an elevated position on a spur above what may have been a routeway along the Scouthal Burn.

Associative Characteristics

There are no known associative characteristics which contribute to the site's cultural significance.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it contributes to our understanding of the past, in particular of Iron Age society in Caithness and the function, use and development of brochs. This large intact mound will contain the buried remains of a substantial broch. Features such as terraces and wall facings are clearly visible. The adaption of a natural feature, a long and narrow spur, is a significant aspect of the importance of this site, demonstrating how topography was in some instances exploited and accentuated by those building brochs. Carn a' Chladha broch is located in close proximity to a number of other brochs located along the Scouthal Burn and damage or loss of the monument would 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 this area and further afield.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 8801 (accessed on 27/06/2016).

The Highland Council Historic Environment Record reference is MHG 1977 (accessed on 27/06/2016).

Feachem, R, 1963, A guide to prehistoric Scotland. London.

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.

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.


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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