Thursday, February 4, 2021

Reviving Ousdale Broch

After an almost complete collapse, the Ousdale Broch has been expertly restored.
CREDIT: Caithness Broch Project

A recent conservation project has breathed new life into an Iron Age broch in northern Scotland.

The Ousdale Broch, just south of Berriedale in Caithness, used to be considered one of the best-preserved brochs in the region. At some point between 2013 and 2015, however, a calamitous combination of damage from ill-judged antiquarian repairs – made in 1891 following an excavation of the site by James Mackay – and a tree growing between the broch’s walls led to the complete collapse of one of the buttresses. This subsequently led to the destabilisation of the entire construction.

When Iain Maclean and Kenneth McElroy, both of the Caithness Broch Project (CBP; see CA 322), visited in 2015, they were shocked to see just how much damage had been done. As Kenneth described it: ‘We thought within a few years it might be lost forever.’

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