Dun Beag broch, Skye

It isn't often you discover brochs that folks have tended to and preserved so we can see how the picts lived. Dun Beag is beautifully restored, and even has a car park and a decent path to the broch. It's worth the walk too, with interior and exterior walls, chambers, and even a staircase you can climb to get onto the walls. It's a wonderful experience and many thanks to the people of Skye for the hard work they've put into preserving it.


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

I've had a question in my head about brochs for years and I could never come up with a reasonable explanation that would solve the mystery. It's the stairs. They're tiny. And it's the same in every broch. The steps are all so small I can only get the toe of my boot onto them unless I turn my foot sideways. This has always made me scratch my head. Were the Picts midgets or something? Of course, they weren't, so why build such small steps? There was plenty of big stone around. You can see that in the walls. When looking at the stairs in this broch I suddenly realised that they were not built for men, they were built for families. The stairs were built so children could use them. The more I learn about the Picts, the more I love them.

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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.