Scheduled Monument

Mousa, brochSM90223

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
HU 45730 23662
445730, 1123662


The guardianship monument at Mousa comprises the remains of an Iron Age broch, situated on a low promontory on the W shore of the uninhabited island of Mousa. The broch is surrounded by a low stone bank. It is recorded that beehive huts once existed within the enclosure and traces of small, robbed structures are still visible near the entrance to the broch.

The monument was first scheduled in 1882, but the file for this cannot be traced. It was taken into care in 1885, but this area is not precisely defined and is certainly inadequate area to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present scheduling rectifies this.

The broch at Mousa comprises a drystone tower, about 15m in diameter preserved to a height of 13.3m. Its profile is not straight but swells out at the base and tapers towards the top (12m diameter); this curvature may have been accentuated by settlement. Entered from the ground floor on the W, the narrow passage leads into a subcircular interior (6.1m diameter). The upper levels of the doorway are now modern; a later doorway (pre-1851) had been built above the original, but was removed in 1919. The interior is cluttered with several phases of later prehistoric subdivisions, including a wheelhouse, but a water tank appears to belong to the earliest phase. There are two scarcement levels, a doorway opening into the courtyard from each. The solid base of the broch contains three intramural cells, but from a height of 3m the wall is hollow, containing six superimposed galleries, floored and roofed with large slabs, and with vertical apertures and recesses in the inner face. A stair of narrow stone steps rises through these galleries to the wall-head, part of which is reconstructed. This retains part of its original capping, a slanted slabbed roof.

Norse use of the broch is recorded in the sagas: in AD 900 Moseyarborg was used a shelter by an eloping couple; and in AD 1153 it was used as a refuge during a family dispute.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, with maximum dimensions of 60m from N-S by 75m from E-W, to include the broch, surrounding outbuildings and enclosing bank and an area around in which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. All modern above-ground structures, such as information panels, are excluded from the scheduling.



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Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Mousa Broch

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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

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Printed: 29/02/2020 14:03