Ancient Monuments

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Achvarasdal House, broch 65m north east of

A Scheduled Monument in Thurso and Northwest Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.5583 / 58°33'29"N

Longitude: -3.7487 / 3°44'55"W

OS Eastings: 298352

OS Northings: 964687

OS Grid: NC983646

Mapcode National: GBR K633.HJX

Mapcode Global: WH5BM.D44Y

Entry Name: Achvarasdal House, broch 65m NE of

Scheduled Date: 25 May 1938

Last Amended: 16 September 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM514

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch

Location: Reay

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Thurso and Northwest Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument is a broch, a type of complex Atlantic Roundhouse which is a drystone dwelling dating to the Iron Age (between 600BC and AD 400). The broch is visible as a substantial grassy mound with exposed interior walls, located on a flat-topped low rise of ground 225m north of Achiegullan Burn at around 45m above sea level.

The broch measures approximately 18m in external diameter and 10m internally.  The interior walls survive to a height of 1.7m and there is an entrance at the east-southeast. The entrance passage contains two opposing door checks, set 1.25m in from the outer wall face, and there is evidence for a blocked doorway or cell on the north face of the passage, just behind the door check. Inside the broch, on the east wall face, there is a blocked doorway to an intramural stair or cell. There is evidence for possible outbuildings or related structures surviving in the substantial grassy mound surrounding the broch. The monument is surrounded by a 19th- century house and woodland but would have had fairly open views across the low-lying landscape towards Sandside Bay, 2.2km to the northwest.

The scheduled area is sub-circular on plan and 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 above ground elements of the modern wall, post and wire fence, local signage and the top 150mm of the path are excluded from the scheduling. The monument was first scheduled in 1938, but the documentation did not meet current standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

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 Iron Age society in Caithness and the function, use and development of brochs. Achvarasdal is an upstanding and well-preserved example of a broch located close to a number of potentially contemporary broch sites in the area. It displays key architectural details within its interior such as an entrance passage with door checks and blocked doorways to intramural features. There is high potential for the preservation of related structures and deposits in the largely undisturbed mound surrounding the broch. The 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 Caithness and further afield.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 7373. Highland Council HER/SMR Reference MHG722.

Armit, I. (2002). Towers in the North: The Brochs of Scotland. The History Press. Stroud.

Banks and Beverley Ballin, I and E (Eds.) (2002). In the Shadow of the Brochs: The Iron Age In Scotland. Stroud, Tempus Publishing.

MacKie, E W. (2007). 'The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c. 700 BC - AD 500: architecture and material culture, the Northern and Southern Mainland and the Western Isles, BAR British Series vol 444 (II), 444 (I), 2 volumes Oxford. Pages 652-653.

MacKie, E W. (1974). 'Some new quernstones from brochs and duns , Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 104. Page: 140.

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 95, No.353.


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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