Clachtoll Broch Excavation

Assynt, Sutherland

From July to September 2017, AOC led a a community excavation project at the site of Clachtoll Broch, in partnership with Historic Assynt. Although now collapsed, Clachtoll Broch is one of the most spectacular Iron Age settlements in NW Scotland. It is an iconic monument of prehistoric settlement in Assynt and sits in an area of distinctive landscape, with a strong sense of open space and low population density. As well as recording and conserving the site, this project aims to inspire visitors and to positively contribute to the unique landscape.

Video below not working?
Your browser may not meet the minimum requirements to view Vimeo videos. Please check your Flash version, ensure you have an up-to-date browser, and enable Javascript.

Coastal erosion has claimed around a quarter of the perimeter of the broch and collapse and removal of rubble has caused the entrance passage to be unstable, with several of the lintels cracked and in need of repair. As such the project aims to stabilise the entrance passage and prevent further collapse by excavating the walls and surrounding loose rubble, before repairing and supporting the lintels.

A central concern is to ensure that the new design is developed in conjunction with the results of the archaeological excavation and that it enhances the landscape. It will also help with the management of the site by reducing the damage to the existing monument. The installation of visitor access and interpretation will be designed so as to accommodate archaeological features uncovered during excavation of the broch wall and the space within. The structure within the broch will be entirely reversible and will cause no damage to the archaeological fabric of the monument.

Excavation work suggests that the building caught fire and was abandoned between 150BC and 50AD. Many small finds were recovered including pottery, stone lamps and a knocking stone which was for the preparation of grain before grinding into flour. The stone was filled with burnt grain indicating it was in use on the day that the building caught fire.

Further investigations are required to establish the configuration and the construction of key elements within the broch. Once ground floor levels have been cleared and dangerous areas made safe, further investigations will be carried out to proceed with the full scheme of conservation and design.

Work at CLachtoll Broch is supported by Historic Environment Scotland. It was carried out as part of Coigach Assynt Living Landscape, which is suported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund