Scheduled Monument

Skirza Head, broch 290m SE of CraigwellSM580

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
17/02/1938
Last Date Amended
29/01/2016
Type
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch; enclosure (domestic or defensive, rather than ritual or funerary)
Local Authority
Highland
Parish
Canisbay
NGR
ND 39420 68444
Coordinates
339420, 968444

Legal Description

The monument is the remains of a broch dating probably from the Iron Age (between about 600 BC and AD 400). It is visible as a low, turf-covered mound with a hollow in the centre where the broch interior lies. A broad ditch lies to the W of the broch on the landward side. The broch stands 30m above sea level towards the neck of a narrow headland surrounded by tall sea cliffs, with Effies Geo to the N and Rushy Geo to the S. There are extensive views out to sea and views S over part of Freswick Bay.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan 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. On the W side the scheduling extends up to but excludes a post-and-wire fence. The monument was first scheduled in 1938, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

 

Description

The monument is the remains of a broch dating probably from the Iron Age (between about 600 BC and AD 400). It is visible as a low, turf-covered mound with a hollow in the centre where the broch interior lies. A broad ditch lies to the W of the broch on the landward side. The broch stands 30m above sea level towards the neck of a narrow headland surrounded by tall sea cliffs, with Effies Geo to the N and Rushy Geo to the S. There are extensive views out to sea and views S over part of Freswick Bay.

The inner wall-face of the broch is visible on several sides and stands at least 1m high. The outer face is obscured by tussocky grass and part has fallen over the cliff on the N side. Records from 1910 suggest the broch walls are about 4.25m thick and the interior 6.7m across, implying an overall diameter of about 15.2m. The entrance is to the SE, facing diagonally across the headland towards the sea, and is about 0.9m wide. Several features were visible in 1910 but are now obscured, including checks for a door within the entrance passage, a doorway to a mural stair to the SW and a small guard cell at the foot of the stair. To the NW and N, a low wall extends up to 1m inside the inner wall face and researchers have suggested this stonework extends from beneath the broch wall. The ditch to the W is about 12m wide and 1.5m deep, and an outer bank beyond the ditch stands about 0.3m high relative to the ground surface to the W. The promontory on which the broch stands measures about 75m E-W by 25m transversely and is in effect a defended enclosure. Outside the broch to the S of the entrance is a large hole, probably a chamber or well. A stone-lined passage or channel leads SW from its base. A stone wall to the S of the broch and a mound of soil to the E probably derive from excavations by Tress Barry in the 1890s. Reports of the excavations refer to outbuildings, but these were not visible in 2015.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan 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. On the W side the scheduling extends up to but excludes a post-and-wire fence. The monument was first scheduled in 1938, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

 

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it can make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular of Iron Age society in northern Scotland and the construction, use and development of brochs. Records from recording of the site in 1910 suggest this monument is likely to retain its structural characteristics to a marked degree, with walls preserving evidence for  intramural features. There is high potential for a complex sequence of buried remains: researchers have suggested a low internal wall may pre-date the broch. The monument's importance is enhanced by its association with the wider landscape of Iron Age brochs located around Freswick Bay. It is an important component of the area's historic landscape. The loss of the monument would diminish our ability to understand the development and use of brochs in Caithness and their role in the Iron Age settlement pattern. The broch towers of northern Scotland have a significant place in the national consciousness.

References

Bibliography

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/canmore.html CANMORE ID 9271.

The Highland Council Historic Environment Record reference is MHG655.

HER/SMR Reference

  • http://her.highland.gov.uk/SingleResult.aspx?uid=MHG655

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 showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. 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 www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 22/09/2019 10:53