Scheduled Monument

Ulbster School, broch 125m S of SchoolhouseSM595

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
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch
Local Authority
Planning Authority
ND 32432 41496
332432, 941496


The monument is a broch, a type of complex Atlantic Roundhouse, which is a drystone dwelling dating to the Iron Age (between 600BC and AD 400). The broch is visible as a substantial grass-covered stoney mound at the edge of a low rocky ridge, 470m east of Loch Watenan at around 80m above sea level.

The broch mound measures approximately 20m in external diameter and 7m internally. It rises around 1.75m above the ground on the east side. A depression in the wall on the south of the broch indicates a possible intramural cell. The broch wall stands up to almost 1m in height with sections of an uneven top course visible in places. The footings of later earth and stone buildings lie on level ground immediately to the west of the broch. The monument is located in a prominent position on the hillside with extensive views over the coastal plain and the North Sea around 750m to the east.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, measuring 42m in diameter and 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. The scheduling excludes the later stone buildings to the west of the monument. The monument was first scheduled in 1939, but the documentation did not meet current standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

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. Ulbster School broch is a relatively undisturbed example of a broch site that is located nearby to many other potentially contemporary brochs. Loss of the monument would 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 Caithness and further afield.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 9101.

Armit, I (2002), Towers in the North: The Brochs of Scotland. The History Press. Stroud.

Banks and Beverley Ballin, I and E (Eds.) (2002), In the Shadow of the Brochs: The Iron Age In Scotland. Stroud, Tempus Publishing.

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.

HER/SMR Reference

  • MHG2040

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: 22/04/2024 01:05