More questions than answers at Clachtoll broch

Posted by on Jul 22, 2018 in Excavation, Public archaeology | No Comments

The current phase of excavation the broch is complete, with many unexpected results and, as usual, more questions have been raised by the finds.

The excavation focused on the ‘guard cell’ within the walls, to the left of the entrance. It has a corbelled roof but the wall at the far end is clearly a fill-in between this cell and the next big chamber between the walls. So it looks like there was a continuous gallery running between the walls from the entrance all the way round to the staircase up to the first floor. This means that people could enter the broch and go upstairs without passing through the main space at ground level, and this opens up all kinds of interesting questions about how the building was used.

Was this the ‘public’ route into the building? Was this how an audience came in to watch a performance given down below – perhaps the pyrotechnics of a smith at a forge, or a potter at a kiln, or some ceremonial activity?

Was this how the community got access to the warm, dry upper storeys of the building, to store their bags of grain, for example, without having to guddle in the mess of livestock sheltering on the ground floor?

Was this how the servants came and went, without disturbing the family around the hearth in the main room?

It all depends on the function of the building – communal, ceremonial or domestic. And this is still up for grabs, and will depend on how the many finds from the building are interpreted, which in turn depends on the evidence from dating and comparison with other sites, to be revealed as the analysis results begin to come in later in the year.