A major archaeological excavation is planned at the broch. Since the project is an integrated research, conservation and interpretation initiative, the project design is similarly integrated: the excavations will help to determine how the conservation and subsequent presentation of the monument will be undertaken.

When limited conservation works were carried out in 2012, the interior of the broch was found to be filled with rubble, and the walls were cracked an broken in ways that suggest the monument had suffered a catastrophic collapse of the original tower. Charcoal from the broch scarcement ledge was dated to the middle Iron Age, probably in the first century BC or AD, suggesting that, unlike many other brochs excavated in Scotland, the interior may have lain untouched since the Iron Age occupation.

This makes Clachtoll broch a very exciting prospect, because it the original occupation layers probably lie untouched beneath the rubble collapse.

Excavation

Excavation during the conservation works in 2012 (image: Sarah Saunders, www.electriclane.co.uk)

This project hopes to excavate the interior of the broch to investigate what remains of the occupation. Subject to what excavation reveals, we hope to be able to open the interior up to allow visitors to access the original living space within the circular walls.

Survey suggests that the rubble surrounding the broch may contain the remains of further buildings and enclosures and we aim to investigate these. The rubble which encases the broch is an integral part of the site, however, and much of this will be left, partly in order to retain the character of the monument and for structural reasons. However, these remains also tell part of the story of the settlement since its abandonment in the Iron Age.

Clachtoll broch is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, which means that it is protected as a site of national importance. Special permission has been sought from Historic Environment Scotland in order for this project to proceed, and we have worked closely with archaeologists at HES to prepare a detailed scientific project design that ensures that we take a sensitive and ethical approach to the excavation.

(Image: Sarah Saunders, www.electriclane.co.uk)

As one of the most important archaeological sites in northern Scotland, the investigation of Clachtoll is an opportunity for cutting-edge archaeological science to be combined with a groundbreaking programme of community participation and training. A series of workshops, outreach initiatives and experimental reconstructions will help to deliver the findings of the project to as wide an audience as possible, both through physical participation and online.