The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.

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B9064, Orkney, United Kingdom
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Details

Founded: 500-200 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in United Kingdom

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tom Wilkins (13 months ago)
Great place, loved seeing the buildings and very well set out.
AndresRafael StefaniSucre (17 months ago)
?The Broch of Gurness? ⚫Located on the northeast coast of Mainland Orkney in Scotland. ⚫Settlement at the site began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. ⚫The stone tower or broch probably reached a height of 10 metres ,Now the tower are up to 3.6 metres (11.8 ft) high. ⚫Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs, stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a wooden floor. ⚫It is thought to have some religious significance relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground. ⚫The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack. ?In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. ⚫Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.
Andrew Bradshaw (20 months ago)
Visited in winter; but could still explore site even though it was closed. What an amazing setting. Especially in good weather, which we enjoyed.
Malcolm Anderson (21 months ago)
Wonderful location for a piece of history
T M (21 months ago)
Beautiful place for visitors, fab place for locals. Great to walk to and around, fab views, next to a wonderful beach. One of Orkney's lesser visited attractions , when the others are hoaching with tourists on cruise line days come here. It is far more accessible than Skara Brae, far more atmospheric, guides are available for information - but just have a wander around and explore yourself.
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