Backies Broch

Situated on the summit of a rocky hillock behind Golspie with commanding views over the Moray Firth and the North Sea, I expected this one to be of military design and wasn't disappointed. There were huge defensive earthworks surrounding the site. Nowhere for Roman galleons to sneak in undetected here, and to attempt landings along this coast in fog or at night would have been suicidal. After marvelling at the sheer size of this thing and the work that went into its defences, the next thing that struck me was that there was no entrance chamber. Not sure why this would be the case, but they obviously didn't feel the need for one. The entrance also points up and across Dunrobin Glen, rather than towards the sea, which suggests line of sight to other brochs which is in keeping with Kilphedir in the Strath of Kildonan. Or perhaps it was to prevent fireglow being seen out in the ocean at night through the entrance passage. The broch is in reasonable repair too, with interior walls and chambers still intact. The most striking feature is the entrance passage which is almost complete and still has most of its roof lintels in place.

There is plenty of good parking further down the glen in the Big Burn car park (marked on the map) and you may have to walk from there. There is limited parking outside the Water Works building, but I think that may be required for Scottish Water vehicles and access. When you find parking, walk up the track past the Scottish Water offices and bear right along the track to the chalets and caravans. From there it's not far to the broch.


Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown Copyright. All rights reserved.

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Disclaimer: Some brochs were built with military defensive purpose, and as such can be situated in extremely dangerous areas, such as on the edge of cliffs and ravines. Additionally, these are Iron Age structures, most of them in ruins, and they are extremely hazardous, with crumbling stone walls and hidden chambers. Existing walls, lintels, and passages could collapse at any time. The information here is provided free but it is your responsibility to ensure its accuracy, ensure your own safety, and acquire permissions for access where necessary. Accessing brochs is done entirely at your own risk.