Although partially collapsed, Clachtoll Broch remains one of the most spectacular Iron Age settlements in the northwest of Scotland. It is the iconic monument of prehistoric settlement in Assynt and sits in an area of distinctive landscape, with a strong sense of open space and low population density. It offers distant views, where land, sea and a constantly changing sky blend together, giving the visitor a great sense of history and freedom. The project aims to inspire visitors and to positively contribute to this unique landscape.
The vision for Clachtoll Broch goes beyond conserving the fabric: it aims to offer a cultural experience for locals and visitors and to reclaim its presence in the landscape. The project seeks to provide innovative designs for the consolidation of the monument as well as improved visitor access and enhanced presentation of the broch. The presentation and interpretation project will be led by the outcomes of the archaeological investigation as well as the site’s cultural heritage value, particularly in terms of scale, setting, design and landscape.
This architectural project will be designed to maximise the integration of the archaeology and conservation works with the viewing and experiencing opportunities of the site, offering a combined source of information on the social and cultural history for Assynt. The design philosophy is to respect the archaeological heritage, material and visual integrity of the broch and its setting. Any new addition will be entirely reversible, causing no damage to the fabric and significance of the scheduled monument. It will also take into consideration current and future local environmental conditions such as coastal erosion, which has already claimed around a quarter of the perimeter of the broch.
People and Landscape
The broch has a strong relationship with the landscape and the local people, constituting a strong cultural focus that has to be maintained and enhanced by further experiencing the fabric and its surroundings of outstanding natural beauty. The vision for the presentation of the broch is to provide visitors with a means of accessing, viewing and understanding the excavated remains.
The Clachtoll Broch Project is collaborative, involving a great degree of consultation and partnership with stakeholders in order to ensure that the design meets their requirements and aspirations and ensuring that the monument is conserved for the future generations, understood, and enjoyed by the locals and visitors.
The broch is the flagship of the local community, showing the continuity of historic occupation in Assynt since prehistory. The presence of the monument however is not evident in the landscape, both from the landward and seaward accesses. The site has a great potential for becoming a destination for locals and visitors, with a clear element of public benefit. The project will stimulate community development and cultural tourism in one of Scotland’s most rural areas.
The main concern is to ensure that the new design will effectively support the conservation of the monument, communicating the results of the archaeological excavation to visitors and enhancing appreciation of the landscape. Formally presenting the broch will also help to manage the site, by reducing the damage to the existing monument though the provision of dedicated access.