The Broch of Gurness in Orkney is one of the most outstanding surviving examples of an Iron-Age settlement in northern Scotland.
There are over 500 brochs, all unique to Scotland, with many of them scattered around the highlands and islands.
Unlike other brochs, the ones in Orkney were often surrounded by villages and the Broch of Gurness is certainly one of the most impressive. It’s extensive archaeological excavation allows the visitor to almost feel what it would have been like to live in the small stone houses, walk up the streets and interact socially.
Archaeological excavations in the early 20th century suggest that the village was begun between 500 and 200BC. A large area, around 45m across, surrounded by ditches and ramparts.
An entrance causeway was added on the east side at a later date, and a large circular broch tower was built to the west of the site. Around this tower, a complete village appeared comprised of small stone houses, yards and store rooms.
In the 8th and 9th centuries, Orkney became home to many Viking settlers, these viking communities often used the mounds of earlier settlement sites as burial places. The grave of a Viking woman, complete with grave goods was found at Gurness and other excavations also suggest that Viking men were also buried at the site.
Broch of Gurness information