Scheduled Monument

Keiss BrochSM13623

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch
Local Authority
Highland, Highland
Wick, Wick
ND 35312 61081
335312, 961081


The monument is a broch, a complex stone-built substantial roundhouse, dating from the Iron Age (between 600 BC and 400 AD). The broch is visible as a low grass-covered stony mound with a central depression that contains traces of surviving walling and the entrance. It is located on a raised beach overlooking Sinclair's Bay.

The broch measures about 18.9m in overall diameter, while the broch has an internal diameter of around 11.6m and stands to about 2m in height. An entrance with a lintel is visible on the east side of the broch, while exposed boulders indicate the presence of the inner and outer faces of the broch wall. The interior of the broch was divided by flagstone partitions, visible as stones projecting above the turf, while externally there are a number of enclosures. The internal divisions and the outbuildings appear to be secondary to the construction of the broch.

The scheduled area is circular in plan, measuring 40m in diameter, to include 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 specifically excludes the above ground elements of the dry-stone wall and post-and-wire fence, to allow for their maintenance and upkeep.

Statement of National Importance

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. This is a well-preserved example of a broch with identifiable architectural features including an entrance, intramural cells and evidence for an intermural stair. The presence of secondary internal and external structures also demonstrates an extended development history at this site. The broch adds to our understanding of settlement patterns and social structure during the Iron Age around Sinclair's Bay and this potential is enhanced by the broadly contemporary monuments in the vicinity, specifically the high density of brochs around Keiss. The loss of the monument would significantly 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 the north of Scotland.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 9318 (accessed on 13/04/2015).

The Highland Council HER reference is MHG1659.

Anderson, J. (1901) Notices of nine Brochs along the Caithness coast from Keiss Bay to Skirza Head, excavated by Sir Francis Tress Barry, Bart., MP., of Keiss Castle, Caithness', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 35, 1900-1. Page(s): 127 plan

Barber, J. and Heald, A. (2015) Caithness Archaeology: Aspects of Prehistory, Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath.

Heald, A. and Jackson, A. (2001) Towards a new understanding of Iron Age Caithness', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 131, 2001. Page(s): 129-47

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. Page(s): 465-472.

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(s): 154-5, No. 515

HER/SMR Reference

  • MHG1659

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 13/07/2024 19:58