Ancient Monuments

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Ulbster School, broch 125m south of Schoolhouse

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.3567 / 58°21'24"N

Longitude: -3.1563 / 3°9'22"W

OS Eastings: 332432

OS Northings: 941496

OS Grid: ND324414

Mapcode National: GBR L6KM.YPM

Mapcode Global: WH6F0.H770

Entry Name: Ulbster School, broch 125m S of Schoolhouse

Scheduled Date: 14 July 1939

Last Amended: 16 August 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM595

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch

Location: Wick

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East 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 grass-covered stoney mound at the edge of a low rocky ridge, 470m east of Loch Watenan at around 80m above sea level.

The broch mound measures approximately 20m in external diameter and 7m internally. It rises around 1.75m above the ground on the east side. A depression in the wall on the south of the broch indicates a possible intramural cell. The broch wall stands up to almost 1m in height with sections of an uneven top course visible in places. The footings of later earth and stone buildings lie on level ground immediately to the west of the broch. The monument is located in a prominent position on the hillside with extensive views over the coastal plain and the North Sea around 750m to the east.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, measuring 42m in diameter 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 scheduling excludes the later stone buildings to the west of the monument. The monument was first scheduled in 1939, 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 the past, in particular of Iron Age society in Caithness and the function, use and development of brochs. Ulbster School broch is a relatively undisturbed example of a broch site that is located nearby to many other potentially contemporary brochs. 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



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 9101.

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. Part 2 The Mainland and the Western Islands'. BAR, vol 444. Oxford.


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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