The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian




Visited: June 18, 2019

The Caithness village of Keiss can boast three brochs in its vicinity: Keiss South (K), Whitegate (W) and Kirk Tofts (T).

Keiss South broch, also known as Keiss Harbour broch, is just a 250 metre walk from Keiss harbour back to the hairpin bend on the access road where a signpost indicates 'Keith Shore'. From here, just follow this path for a short distance over the grass to the obvious fenced-off enclosure (marker 'K' on the map below). To enter the area, follow the fence anticlockwise and you will find a gate adjacent to the field boundary north of the broch.

There is a great deal of information about Keiss broch on the Canmore website, including the fact that, as recently as 1910, the internal broch wall survived to a height of about five feet. This hardly seems the case now, the broch having endured severe robbing over the years, and little masonry remains on view.

The entire area is hummocky and was largely obscured by long grass at the time of my visit. Although nothing remains of the entrance passage, its location would seem to be signalled by a dip in the grassy ramparts that surround the broch to its east. Standing at the north of the structure, the impression is of a shallow, grassy saucer with just a small section of walling, three courses high, peeking through the obscuring vegetation. Almost certainly, walling courses do exist beneath this cover, as exemplified by the exposure of masonry in the rampart of the eastern internal wall of the broch.

Painted Pebbles
Interesting finds discovered by Sir Francis Tress Barry during his late 19th century excavations of Keiss South broch were small pebbles painted with spots and lines. Although their function is unclear, it has been suggested that they may have been used as gaming pieces or as charms. Barry exhibited these painted pebbles during a talk to the Society of Antiquaries of London on May 26, 1898. A watercolour painting of these pebbles is shown on the Canmore website.
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
1st July 2019ce
Edited 11th March 2023ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment