Midhowe Broch is an iron-age structure situated on a narrow promontory between two steep-sided creeks, on the north side of Eynhallow Sound. The broch is part of an ancient settlement, part of which has been lost to coastal erosion. The broch got its name from the fact that it's the middle of three similar structures that lie grouped within 500 metres of each other and Howe from the Old Norse word haugr meaning mound or barrow.

The broch tower has an internal diameter of 9 metres within a wall 4.5 metres thick, which still stands to a height of over 4 metres. The broch interior is crowded with stone partitions, and there is a spring-fed water tank in the floor and a hearth with sockets which may have held a roasting spit.

The broch is surrounded by the remains of other lesser buildings, and a narrow entrance provides access into the defended settlement. The other buildings seem to have been built as adjacent houses, but later in the site’s history they were used as workshops, and one of these buildings still retains its iron-smelting hearth.

A short distance to the southeast is a large Neolithic chambered cairn known as Midhowe Chambered Cairn.

The broch and attendant buildings were excavated between 1930 and 1933 and then taken under guardianship. The excavations recovered stone and bone tools associated with grain-processing, spinning and weaving. Also found were pieces from crucibles and moulds associated with bronze-working. Also discovered was a fragment from a Roman bronze vessel.

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Address

B9064, Orkney, United Kingdom
See all sites in Orkney

Details

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

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Hilary Clift (2 years ago)
Well worth a visit interesting neolithic site.
Bob Knox (2 years ago)
Well worth a visit.
Izzy D (2 years ago)
Incredible Broch right next to Midhowe Cairn! The Broch was built 3,500 years after the Cairn. Really incredible inside as well! Both sites are worth the hike down then up the hill! Parking at the top of the hill for a few cars.
Michael Parker (3 years ago)
Great archeology, absolutely fascinating structure with associated stone houses which were very similar construction to those at the famous Skara Brae, even though these were built over 2000 years later. The broch itself is wonderful and all right on the coast line in a dramatic setting next to a slab sandstone beach and a geo. Well done to Historic Scotland for upkeep and signage. You need a good hour just for a general look around. And it's within a stone's throw of the amazing Midhowe burial cairn. Get that ferry to Rousay!
Peter Raisen (3 years ago)
Very large, intricate and altogether excellent pair of an open air Broch with a chambered cairn under a roof next door. These two structures alone merit taking a ferry over. There is a full days quality archaeology tourism on this island.
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