Scotland's brochs were probably built in the last century BC or first century AD. Opinions differ about the purpose of brochs, and range from resource-hungry status symbols to temporary defensive structures for extended families and their livestock.
Around 500 were built in Scotland, including good examples at Broch of Gurness in Orkney, Dun Carloway in the Western Isles and Clickimin Broch near Lerwick in Shetland. The best preserved of them all is Mousa Broch, in Shetland.
Clachtoll Broch lies on a rocky outcrop on the south side of the mouth of the Bay of Clachtoll, looking across the bay to the village of Stoer. Viewed from a distance it appears nothing more than a disorganised heap of stones.
You approach the broch from the rough stony beach to its east. As you get closer it becomes clear that there remains some organisation within the mound. The most obvious indication of this is the doorway, which retains its huge triangular lintel. If you've brought a torch it is still possible to glimpse some of the broch's fixtures and fittings within the entrance passage: the location for the door, and the start of a chamber within the wall.
If you clamber up the outside of the wall you find that the interior is full or rubble, leaving a crater-like shape. From above you can also see what looks very like the remains of the intramural staircase, which would once have given access to the upper parts of the broch. You also begin to get a feel for the overall shape of the remains. It looks as if part of the west side of the broch may have been lost to coastal erosion.
On the east or landward side, however, the higher viewpoint of the top of the broch allows you to appreciate that there was once an outer defensive wall. The line of this is blurred by the scattered rubble from both the wall and the broch, but it seems to have led round the whole landward side of the broch, meeting the shoreline both to the north and the south of it. The gap between the broch and the outer wall would once have been filled by stone buildings.
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Grid Ref: NC 037 279