Dun Ardtreck is a D-shaped dun, or 'semi-broch', situated on a rocky knoll on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. It encloses an area of about 13 by 10 metres. It was constructed with a ruidmentary hollow-wall. The entrance is particularly well-preserved with door-checks characteristic of brochs. The entrance to a guard cell led off to the right behind the door-checks.

Dun Ardtreck was excavated by Euan W. MacKie in 1964-1965 as part of an exercise to establish the development of the broch. It had been built in two stages: a roughly level platform was constructed and on this was set the galleried wall. Charcoal from the platform was radiocarbon dated to 115 BC. The first phase of occupation seems to have been very short and it appears to have ended in violence and destruction. The second phase was dated from the pottery finds to the middle of the 2nd century AD. The finds from this period included iron tools, bronze ornaments and glass ring-heads as well as Roman Samian ware pottery sherds and a piece of a Roman bead.

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Founded: 115 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Richard Walsh (13 months ago)
Never been here, but my mate got engaged here so it must be pretty solid.
James Hoskins (13 months ago)
Absolutely stunning view, especially at sunset.
Richard Terrio (14 months ago)
Off the beaten path and a short walk from limited parking. The ground gets very soggy and the nearby lighthouse is likely not worth the further trek.
Renee Newman (3 years ago)
Beautiful and an excellent walk.
Andrew Lawson (3 years ago)
Difficult to get to. Very wet and windy. Just over the brow.
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Broch of Gurness

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.