Saints Home Stones

Each issue of the Saints and Stones Homepage features a journey to take to explore the Saints and Stones of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. This month's journey visits the terrific Mousa Broch, the finest surviving example of a broch in Scotland. It is located in Shetland on Mousa Isle off the South Mainland coast. Built some 2,000 years ago in the Iron Age from sandstone, it stands 42 feet high and measures 49 feet at the base tapering to 39 feet at the top. The walls are almost 15 feet thick. There are three large cells within the wall, and a stone staircase is also inside the wall. Despite traces of outbuildings, the broch has never been surrounded by a village. It is one of about 120 brochs built throughout Shetland. Visited in 2010

Books: Towers of the North by Ian Armit. This book describes the current state of our knowledge of the Brochs in Scotland - the most remarkable prehistoric buildings in Europe - and explores the controversies over their origins and functions. The author also provides an annotated list of the most accessible and well-preserved Broch sites today. Individual chapters cover varios sunjects including Anatomy of a Broch and Broch People. Brochs of Scotland by Graham Ritchie. This book examines some of the most spectacular ancient monuments in Britain - the iron age brochs of north and west Scotland. It sets the building of these unique fortifications into context and examines some of the impressive sites that may still be visited, including the brochs of Mousa and Clickimin in Shetland and Dun Carloway on Lewis. There is a short section on what brochs are not. A gazetteer of the most important brochs is followed by a list of museums containing artefacts.

Publications/Publishers: Caithness Adventure Map. Produced by the Caithness Broch Project, this map is an indispensable tool when visiting the area's brochs.

Websites and Blogs: Shetland's Top 6 Brochs. Brochs remain synonymous with the north of Scotland, enigmatic, mysterious and intriguing. They continue to inspire and conjure questions about how past people lived. Shetland is one of the best places to explore these towers of the Iron Age. Remaining in many forms, from the almost complete example at Mousa, towering 13 metres from the ground, to those that remain as no more than scattered stones strewn on hillsides and cliff edges or as points on the OS, these drystone structures, built 2,000 years ago, are found scattered across the islands. This blog explores a few of the best in Shetland.

Podcasts: The Brochs of Glenelg. Andrew Conway, the narrator, visits two of the best preserved brochs on the Scottish mainland: Dun Telve and Dun Troddan. Both are a few miles outside the village of Glenelg, which is rare itself in that its name is a palindrome. The two brochs were probably built between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago, according to Historic Environment Scotland. Dun Telve is more than 65 feet (20 meters) in diameter, and part of it still stands over 32 feet (10 meters) high. Its standing section reveals a cross-section of the broch's construction. Dun Troddan only stands almost 25 feet (7.4 meters) high, but is better preserved than Dun Telve overall. While Dun Telve reveals valuable evidence for broch construction, Dun Troddan provides clues as to how the broch was used. It is highly unusual for two Iron Age brochs to stand so close together. Only a distance of about 1/3 of a mile (500 meters) separates Dun Telve, near the river, from Dun Troddan, set on a terrace in the hillside a little further up the glen. Dun Telve and Dun Troddan are among just four brochs which still stand close to their original height, along with Mousa in Shetland and Dun Carloway in Lewis.

Organizations: Caithness Broch Project. The premier broch organization in Scotland, the Project is dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and conservation of Caithness archaeology and heritage sites. In Caithness there are more brochs than anywhere else in Scotland. There are around 200 of these impressive buildings, which are thought to have been status symbols at the time. As well as organising community excavations, outreach programs at schools, and conservation projects, the ultimate aim of the project is to build a replica broch in Caithness! This would serve as a dry stone dyking workshop and a new major tourist attraction. Sample of brochs in Caithness. Support the Project

Art/Photography/Museums: Caithness Broch Centre. Standing beside the main road from Wick to John o' Groats in the tiny hamlet of Auckengill is the Old School House, built in the late 1800s. Today, it is home to the Caithness Broch Centre, a museum dedicated to the exploration of a number of key themes relating to brochs. It is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from 10a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 10a.m. to 2p.m.

Videos: Three excellent videos this month. The first is from History Time Videos, Towers of the North: The Brochs of Iron Age Scotland (3000 BC-200 AD). The second video is from Secret Scotland and focuses on the two Glenelg Brochs. The last offering is from the BBC: Why Scotland's 2,000-year-old 'Skyscrapers' Puzzle Archaeologists.

Brochs Visited by


Achvarasdal Broch
Dunbeath Broch
Keiss Broch
Nybster Broch
Ousdale Broch
South Yarrows Broch


Carn Liath Broch
Clachtoll Broch
Dun Dornaigil Broch
Grummore Broch

Mainland Inverness-shire

Dun Telve
Dun Troddan

Inner and Outer Hebrides

Dun Beag Broch (Skye)
Dun Carloway Broch (Lewis)
Dun Fiadhairt (Skye)


Broch o' Borwick (West Mainland)
Burrian Broch (North Ronaldsay)
Burroughston Broch (Shapinsay)
Broch of Gurness (West Mainland)
*Knowe of Swandro (Rousay)
Midhowe Broch (Rousay)
South Howe Broch (Rousay)
*The Cairns (South Ronaldsay)

* Contains a broch among other structural characteristics


Clickimin Broch (Lerwick)
Culswick Broch (West Mainland)
Mousa Broch (Isle of Mousa)

Previous Journeys Pages
Past Journeys Pages

Previous Resources Pages
Past Resources Items

Suggestions, comments, and questions are always welcome.