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Midhowe Broch - Rousay, Orkney
Broch
National Grid Reference: HY 371 306

show a map

How To Get There

You can take a ferry from the Orkney Mainland to Rousay from Tingwall. The ferry will deliver you to Trumland on Rousay. From here follow the B9064 to the west. There are many fine chambered cairns to look at on the way, so take your time! The broch is located below Mansemass Hill, overlooking the island of Eynhallow. The site is well signed and there is parking by the roadside. You will need to walk for about half a mile down a somewhat steep hill to reach the broch.

Midhowe Broch

There are many brochs marked on the Ordinance Survey maps of the Orkney Islands. Many of these turn out to be unexcavated green lumps when you finally reach them; I got to be quite adept at spotting them while we were visiting the islands. This broch at Midhowe is one of two well known, excavated and visibly impressive brochs that we visited on the islands, the other being the Broch of Gurness.

Midhowe Broch must have been a daunting defensive structure. It occupies a small promontory on a rocky shore and the only approach other than by sea was protected by two ditches and a large stone wall. The north and south of the broch were protected by two narrow gullies. It is perhaps a testament to the deterrent capabilities of these structures that there is very seldom any trace of violence found.

The impressive entrance to the broch.

The remains of this broch still stand to over 4 metres and it might have been up to 13 metres high when first built. As at Gurness, the broch was built in close association with a small village, the remains of which can still be seen outside the walls of the defensive structure.

The village remains include a well preserved iron smelting facility which can now be seen protected from the elements under glass on the north side of the building.

It is thought that the broch started to collapse shortly after construction. The picture above shows the attempts to buttress the outer wall, to the left of the entrance.

Inside the broch.

Within the walls are the remains of the rooms, subdivided by tall, thin slabs of stone. In the photograph above you can clearly see the hearth stones at the centre of this room. Looking just below the top of the wall you might also notice a ledge or sill on which an upper wooden floor may have been constructed. The whole structure would have been covered with a roof of timber and either thatch or turf.

Nearby Sites

Knowe of Yarso
Blackhammer
Taversoe Tuick
Midhowe Cairn

Related Sites

Broch of Gurness

Notes

 

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This prehistoric site has been rescued for historical reasons by History X's archive