2,200-year-old 'home of Highland chief' to be saved

Ousdale Broch Burn was build around 2nd Century BC and was likely home to a local chief or leader. PIC: CPB.
Ousdale Broch Burn was build around 2nd Century BC and was likely home to a local chief or leader. PIC: CPB.
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A crumbling Highland tower - or broch - that may have been home to a local Iron Age chief around 2,200 years ago is to be saved.

Ousdale Burn Broch near Helmsdale in Sutherland will be conserved and turned into a visitor attraction after a grant of £180,000 was secured.

The broch is now to be saved and conserved after Caithness Broch Project won 180,000 for the work. It is now set to become a visitor attraction. PIC: Jim Richardson, National Geographic.

The broch is now to be saved and conserved after Caithness Broch Project won 180,000 for the work. It is now set to become a visitor attraction. PIC: Jim Richardson, National Geographic.

The money was won by Caithness Broch Project, which works to highlight the history of these mysterious towers.

READ MORE: Abandoned village that disappeared from the Highlands to be retraced
Brochs are not found anywhere else in the world apart from Scotland, with Ousdale Burn Broch considered to be one of the best surviving examples of the structures which may have been used as dwellings by chiefs or leaders.

The Caithness Broch Project said the broch had fallen into a poor state of repair after a wall collapsed near the front of the structure and a tree started growing inside.

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Robin Herrick, chairman of Caithness Broch Project, said: "The recent start in site work marks the end of years of preparation by the Project and the beginning of a new lease of life for the broch, which has fallen into a sorry state of repair due to excavations and repairs by Victorian archaeologists.

"I think it will become a big attraction not just for visiting tourists but for regular users of the A9 from Inverness to Caithness who will have passed by many times without realising what a special place it is.”

Earlier excavations of the broch found evidence of metalworking, animal bones including those of sheep, deer, ox and hare and large quantities of native pottery including pieces of vase made from hard grey clay.

Funding for the conservation work was secured from a local windfarm fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Highland LEADER.

Caithness Broch Project have been promoting the brochs of Caithness since 2013.

Its flagship project is the construction of a replica broch, which will serve as visitor attraction and support the diversification of the Caithness economy, in which tourism is already playing an increasing and important role.