MID-HOWE BROCH

Orkney

Mid-How Broch, Orkney

There is great argument as to whether or not Brochs constitute "Castles" or not. However, even the most picky scholar would define a "true" Castle as a fortified residence - and this is precisely what Brochs are.  Just because they upset the neat notion that Normans invented the concept of the Castle doesn't alter the fact that these Pict/Celtic constructions are fortified residences of great complexity in many cases.

Probably one of the reasons historians get so irate about Brochs is the fact they can tell us virtually nothing about them.  Mid-Howe Broch, for instance, was built "sometime between 200 BC and 200 AD - so just four hundred years to choose from then.

It stands on the small islands of Rousay, reached by ferry from Orkney Mainland. Like most Brochs Mid-Howe is basically funnel shaped, although only the bottom section now remains, with a double wall in between which ran the stairway to the upper storeys. It would have been surrounded by several smaller buildings, and although ostensibly defensive has some serious defects in its positioning, not least of which is a small landing stage on the sea side which would have allowed very easy access to any seaward invaders.

Near to the Broch is the more renowned Maes Howe, a burial mound of massive proportions. Both are owned by Historic Scotland and open during the summer months.

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2009


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