IHBC’s CPD boost: Caithness Broch Project and some of the secrets of broch building

buildingScotland has played a huge part in the world of architecture, design and engineering, while a type of structure apparently found only in Scotland, the ‘Broch’, has an incredible physical presence, and could be described a marvel of engineering legacy.

image HES website

Historic Environment Scotland writes:

Brochs are Iron Age towers, unique to Scotland, and found mainly in the North Highlands and Islands.Built between 400 BC and 200 AD, these would have been an awesome sight. Though brochs differed from one to another, they seem to have followed a certain design.

They were:

  • double skinned or double walled constructions
  • the walls appear to have had a ‘cooling tower’ appearance with a gentle ‘batter’ sloping inwards
  • they were topped with a roof of some description.

Brochs are more complex than that, of course. Within the double wall ran a staircase, which wound round the tower. The double walls may have afforded extra protection, but could have also served to create a sort of prehistoric central heating! The ‘galleries’, the name given to the space between the walls, would have stopped rain and snow from permeating the inner wall. The inner wall also contained ‘voids’ running to the top, allowing smoke from the hearth (and possibly the heat generated from animals kept within the broch) to circulate through the galleries and keep the broch cosy. It’s also thought these galleries may have strengthened the walls, displacing the load of the broch tower.  Within these walls, corbelled cells can be found.

Building A Broch

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