Scheduled Monument

Sallachy, broch 425m NNE of Fruchan CottageSM1883

Status: Designated


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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
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch
Local Authority
NC 54915 9221
254915, 909221


The monument comprises a broch, a complex stone-built substantial roundhouse, dating to the Iron Age (between 600 BC and AD 400). The monument is visible as a roughly circular drystone-walled structure with a ramped terrace approximately 2m wide running around its eastern circuit. To its northeast and east are the remains of two terraced banks and slight traces of a ditch and bank lie to the northwest, west and south west of the broch. It is located approximately 115m above sea level, on the west bank of, and around 30m above, Loch Shin.

The broch is positioned on a low rocky knoll on sloping hillside. The ramped terrace, forming an approach to the broch entrance, rises from ground level by around 2m as it circles the mound from the northwest to the southeast in a clockwise direction. The outer wall of the structure has an external diameter of 19m and measures up to 2.7m in height and up to 4.8m in width. The entrance passage, at the southeast, is around 4.5m long. There are two guard cells, directly opposite each other, opening from the entrance passage, their doorways being 2.7m from the entrance threshold. The west guard cell displays a corbelled roof. A staircase within the thickness of the wall rises in the western portion of the broch with a cell located at the foot of it. Immediately south of the entrance, adjacent to the broch, is the remains of a sub-oval enclosure. To the east of the broch, the ground drops sharply and two terraces, possibly the remnants of banks and ditches, have been formed providing outworks. To the northwest, west and south west, are the slight remains of a ditch and bank, probably providing outer defences and creating an enclosure around or adjacent to the broch. The stone footings of a sub-rectilinear structure are located at the northwest corner of this outer enclosure. The broch appears to have been partially excavated or cleared; records indicate this occurred prior to 1909.

The scheduled area 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. Post and wire fences are specifically excluded from the scheduling.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is an example of a broch, visible as drystone-walled structure set on the top of a low rocky knoll. Overall the site survives in very good condition with records indicating the site was partially cleared or excavated prior to 1909. The level of preservation of the broch together with the remains of outer-works are an important part of the monument's intrinsic characteristics.

The monument has very high potential to support future archaeological research. There are numerous structural features such as an intramural staircase and opposing intramural guard cells visible and it is probable that additional buried features exist. By analogy with a number of excavated brochs there is potential for buried remains of intramural cells, scarcement ledges, internal stone partitions, hearths, water tanks and possibly a well within the broch, and potential for the buried remains of outbuildings on the edge of the broch. Many of these features can provide information about broch architecture and construction methods. Additionally, the broch outworks and any associated structures are likely to contain deposits rich in occupation debris, artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence that can tell us about how people lived, their trade and exchange contacts, and their social status.

Brochs are typically thought to date from the mid first millennium BC through to the early part of the first millennium AD. There are few precise scientific dates for brochs in northwest Scotland and their dating has traditionally been based on typological studies of artefacts recovered from broch sites. The presence of features such as the ramped entrance approach, terracing to the east and outworks to the west, indicates this site may have had a complex development sequence. Scientific investigation would allow us to develop a better understanding of the chronology of the site, its date of origin, state of completeness, survival of outworks and outbuildings or related structures, and any development sequence.

Broch towers are primarily seen as a specific specialised development of complex Atlantic roundhouses. They were large complex structures that could have accommodated either an extended family or a small community. While there would have been a social hierarchy within this community, the construction of these elaborate towers is often understood in terms of elite settlement. Other interpretations have stressed their likely role as fortified or defensive sites, possibly serving a community across a wider area. Brochs are complex structures likely to have had numerous purposes and a complex role in prehistoric society.

Contextual Characteristics

Brochs are a widespread class of monument across northern Scotland with notable concentrations in Caithness, Sutherland, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and the northwest Highlands. This example is one of a small group on and around Loch Shin but is unusual for having extensive outworks and a relatively large enclosed area around the broch. Such features are more commonly found at some Orkney and Caithness brochs.

This monument is also significant as an upstanding and well-preserved example of a broch with associated outworks, which is located in proximity to several other brochs including; Ferry Wood around 2.5km southeast (Canmore ID 5013), Dalchork 2.5km northeast (Canmore ID 5254), Altbreack 3km east-northeast (Scheduled Monument SM 1829 and Canmore ID 5211) and Shinness 6.5km north-northwest (Canmore ID 5168). There is potential for comparative study on a local and national scale to better understand the function of such monuments, their interrelationship and the significance of their placing within the landscape, in particular in relation to our understanding of Iron Age social hierarchy, changing settlement patterns and systems of inheritance.

The broch sits on an east facing slope, overlooking Loch Shin, in a prominent position on a low rocky outcrop. There are wide open views along the valley. Many broch towers were deliberately sited to be focal points in the landscape, and this example would have been clearly visible from within the valley, from the loch and from hills across the loch.

Associative Characteristics

There are no known associative characteristics which contribute to the site's cultural significance.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the function, use and development of brochs in northwest Scotland. It is a well-preserved example of a broch that retains some architectural features and has high potential for additional buried remains, including occupation debris, artefacts and ecofacts. This broch has evidence for extensive outworks, enclosing a larger than typical area, making it a rare example. It is a prominent feature in the landscape and adds to our understanding of the siting of brochs. This in turn can help our understanding of settlement patterns and social structure during the Iron Age in the Highlands. This potential and interest is enhanced by the proximity of other brochs. The loss of the monument would diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the use of brochs in northwest Scotland, and the nature of its Iron Age society, economy and social hierarchy.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 5069 (accessed on 09/08/2018).

Highland Council HER reference number MHG 11970 (accessed on 09/08/2018).

Armit, I. (1998). Scotland's hidden history. Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Cavers, G. (2007). 'Sallachy Broch, Highland (Lairg parish), survey', Discovery and Excavation Scotland, vol. 8. Cathedral Communications Limited, Wiltshire.

Close-Brooks, J. (1995). The Highlands, Exploring Scotland's Heritage. Edinburgh.

Feachem, R. (1963). A guide to prehistoric Scotland. London.

MacKie, E W. (2007). The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC-AD 500: architecture and material culture, the Northern and Southern Mainland and the Western Islands, BAR British series 444(II), 444(1), 2 V. Oxford.

RCAHMS. (1911). The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. Edinburgh.

Romankiewicz, T. (2011). The Complex Roundhouses of the Scottish Iron Age: An architectural analysis of complex Atlantic roundhouses (brochs and galleried duns) with reference to wheelhouses and timber roundhouses, BAR British series 550 (I), 550 (II), 2 V. Oxford.

Young, A. (1964). 'Brochs and duns', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 95. Edinburgh.

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.

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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).

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Sallachy, view of broch with ditch in foreground, enclosure above and broch remains beyond, looking northeast, on a partly sunny day.
Sallachy, view of broch interior, taken from intramural cell at foot of staircase, looking up staircase and into central broch area, looking northwest, on a partly sunny day.

Printed: 20/04/2024 05:53