Scheduled Monument

Dun Viden, broch SM1860

Status: Designated

Documents

Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/termsandconditions).

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.

Summary

Date Added
13/10/1938
Last Date Amended
24/07/2023
Type
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch
Local Authority
Highland
Planning Authority
Highland
Parish
Farr
NGR
NC 72651 51883
Coordinates
272651, 951883

Description

The monument comprises a broch dating to the Iron Age (800BC – 400AD).  It survives as a roughly circular mound of rubble approximately 1.5m high and 19m in diameter with associated earthwork defences. It is located on a prominent sandy knoll to the east of the River Naver at approximately 42m above sea level.

The broch was a circular drystone structure measuring approximately 9.5m internally within a wall ranging between 4.2m to 5.3m thick. The remains of the entrance can be seen on the southeast side measuring 1.4m wide; its triangular outer lintel lies nearby. The entrance passage was originally roofed by flag stones. It is now filled with rubble but a door jamb is still visible. The earthwork defences take the form of a curved rampart which runs north to east measuring 52m long and 6.5m wide. Beyond this to east is an inner ditch 4.5m wide with an outer bank measuring 36m long by 6m wide with a combined hight of 3.5m; to the south is a further rampart measuring 33m long by 5.5m wide.

The scheduled area is irregular. It includes the remains described above and an area around 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 all current post and wire fencing are specifically excluded to allow for their maintenance. 

Statement of National Importance

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a.  The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past as a broch with the potential for multiple phases of occupation dating to the Iron Age (800BC – 400AD).

b.   The monument retains structural, architectural and other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past including an entrance passage, door jamb and earthwork defences. Beneath the collapsed rubble traces of internal structures, including hearths, stairs and chambers within the walls are likely to survive along with evidence relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the broch.

e.   The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. Archaeological excavation is likely to identify well stratified archaeological deposits with a good potential for surviving artefacts and environmental remains suitable for scientific analysis and radiocarbon dating.

f.   The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the prehistoric landscape. It occupies a defendable position associated with an area of fertile agricultural land and views along Strathnaver. A comparative study of the broch with similar monuments on a local and national scale could help us to better understand the reasons behind their distribution, changing settlement patterns and land use.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The monument comprises a broch dating to the Iron Age (800BC – 400AD). Brochs are large round drystone towers with internal wattle and timber structures and the potential for associated external buildings, structures and earthwork defences. This example is described in 1864 as having a double wall – a characteristic of broch structures. Within this wall a stair is likely to have provided access to an upper floor. In the post medieval period stone from the broch was robbed out in order to construct the nearby post medieval settlement (Canmore ID 6309). 

Building such structures would have taken a significant amount of time and resources and there is the potential for multiple phases of occupation, repair and reuse over an extended period of time. Excavations at An Dun, broch, Clachtoll in Highland (scheduled monument SM1831) has shown that the interior space was used for variety of domestic activities. A wide range of artefacts were recovered there from undisturbed archaeological deposits sealed at the time of the broch's destruction by fire. These including bone and antler needles and combs; a fragment of a wooden bowl; stone querns and knocking stone filled with charred cereal grains; spindle whorls and lamps; iron agricultural tools; copper alloy pins and sherds of pottery.  Environmental remains were also present and from these radiocarbon dates have dated the occupation of the broch to the Middle Iron Age, specifically 176 BC to AD 65 (Cavers 2022).

Dun Viden has not been excavated, however a barbed and socketed iron arrow-head as well as a flint have been found outside the monument. Beneath the remaining collapsed material evidence of the internal structure, including hearth, intermural stairs and cells are likely to survive. This coupled with the presence of earthwork defences are important contributing factors to the monument's significance.

The broch and its associated enclosing ditch is also likely to contain stratified archaeological deposits from which samples can be gathered for environmental analysis and radiocarbon dating. A broad range of artefacts can also be expected to survive, and these have the potential to tell us about the social status and lifestyle of the inhabitants, including dress, diet, metal working; the local economy, as well as trade, contact and conflict. Detailed study of the broch can tell us how the monument developed over time, in particular, its occupation and construction, use, reuse, repair and abandonment along with its relationship to its outer defences.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

The monument is located on a prominent sandy knoll overlooking fertile low lying ground 275m east of the River Naver. Approximately 470m to the north-northeast is the confluence of the Naver and the Achanellan Burn and 540m to the south is Dun Viden Burn. An unnamed burn - now partially culverted - flows from the hillside to the east of the broch and passes to the south, skirting the western side of the knoll before heading north northeast where it meets the Naver. The knoll provided the broch with a prominent position with extensive views of the surrounding landscape. The broch was well defended by the sharp drop to the west coupled with the earthwork defences on the gentler approaches.

Brochs are found only in Scotland and are a widespread class of monument with notable concentrations in Caithness, Sutherland, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and the northwest Highlands. Brochs occur less frequently in central and southern Scotland. There are at least 12 known brochs in Strathnaver, 9 within the valley and 3 along the shores of Loch Naver. Those closest to Dun Viden broch are Dun Chealamy, broch (scheduled monument SM5632; 833m southwest) and Cnoc Carnachadh, broch 1400m N of Carnachy (scheduled monument SM1850; 963m northeast). Swanson notes that the brochs appear to be associated with surrounding cultivable land (1988, 237). Occupants of the broch may have controlled access to or  farmed these areas themselves.

Strathnaver is rich in settlement and cultivation remains dating from the Bronze Age (2,500 BC – 800 BC) to Iron Age (800 BC – AD 400). Examples close to the broch include can be seen with Strath Naver, souterrains and whetstone (Canmore ID 6305; 661m west). Souterrains are associated with Iron Age settlement and as such this site has the potential to be contemporary with the broch. Dun Viden, cairnfield (Canmore ID 6331; 394m southeast) and Carnachy, hut circle (Canmore ID 147134; 466m west). Cairnfields in close proximity to hut circles are characteristic of prehistoric agriculture. Many prehistoric ritual sites are also found within the strath. The closest to the broch being Dun Viden, chambered cairn (Canmore ID 6300; 95m southeast).

The broch can be studied in relation to the wider agricultural and settlement pattern within Strathnaver and across Scotland to help us better understand prehistoric land use over time and identify regional tends and differences. There is also potential for the monument be included in larger study to better understand the connection between brochs and earlier ritual sites. The broch would have been a significant component of the prehistoric landscape and is likely to have had a role in its organisation. The remains of the broch are still a prominent feature which contributes to the character of Strathnaver.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

There are no known associative characteristics which contribute to the monuments cultural significance.

References

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 6299 (accessed on 27/01/2023).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MHG11106 (accessed on 12/05/2023).

Clachtoll, An Iron Age Broch Settlement in Assynt, North-West Scotland. Oxbow. Oxford.

Cavers, G. (2022) Clachtoll. an iron age broch settlement in Assynt, north-west Scotland. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Swanson, C.B. (1998) A Contribution to a New Understanding of Brochs. Volume 1. Ph.D. Thesis, Edinburgh University. Edinburgh Research Archive. Available at http://hdl.handle.net/1842/19332 (accessed on 12/05/2023).

Lock G and Ralston I 2017. Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk. (accessed on 12/05/2023).

Arrow head - donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland [NMAS] by Miss A S Henshall in 1955-6. (Acc. No. GA 1265) a flint from the site in the museum (Acc. No. AB 2655)

HER/SMR Reference

  • MHG11106

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.

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Images

Dun Viden, broch wide shot looking west with grass in foreground on a grey day
Dun Viden, broch closeup looking southwest with ranging rod for scale, on a grey day

Printed: 24/06/2024 01:05