Only in Scotland
A Broch is a very large circular prehistoric house that were constructed using the ‘drystane’ method which basically means that no cement was used. The stones just balance on each other. The walls of these buildings were around 4 meters thick and had an interior floor space of about 30 feet. There was an outer and an inner circular wall with a spiral staircase between the 2 walls.
The period that they are from is the Scottish Iron Age of 800BC till the second century. They were used as forts, built in strategic positions and there are some remarkably preserved examples still in existence.
This one in north west Scotland is being excavated now and is one of over 500 in Britain. The Clachtoll Broch was probably abandoned after a fire broke out, burning the wooden floor and causing the walls to collapse.
Usually there was only one entrance with bar holes, door checks and lintels. There would then be galleries in the interior. The inner and outer walls would be connected by linking slabs that would also act as a staircase up to a higher floor. This could act as a sort of central heating keeping the wind and rain out. These were impressive buildings and astounding to think they were built 2 thousand years ago. They still have engineers marveling at the ingenuity and they remain one of the finest engineering constructions of Iron age Europe.
The best preserved example is the Broch of Mousa which is in the Shetlands off the coast of Scotland. It has survived in almost perfect condition and is 44 feet tall! The island of Mousa is now uninhabited and lies about a mile from Shetland. Visitors can still enter inside the building and climb the internal stairs to the top. There is a daily ferry if you want to book a passage..
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