Broadcast 16 April 2006
Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Videotext Communications Ltd. to carry out archaeological recording and post-excavation analysis on an archaeological evaluation by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ at the site of a possible Iron Age broch in Applecross, Wester Ross. The broch is located on a low ridge within Applecross campsite (centred on NGR 171183 844331).
The main aims of the project were to determine whether the rubble remains situated on a sandstone outcrop were indeed remnants of an Iron Age broch structure, and if so to define some of its key characteristics, determine its state of preservation, and date it more precisely within the Iron Age. Evidence suggesting that this may be a broch site includes vague documentary references to a stone fort from the 19th century as well as the presence of a large ‘kerbstone’ which protrudes through the grass on the southeast of the mound.
Other aims of this project included investigating the broader context of the possible broch, including the remains of a putative prehistoric stone circle within the campsite, and traces of walling suggesting the presence of two rectilinear structures, possibly later buildings, to the north-west of the site.
Eight trenches were opened by hand at various locations across this site. Three trenches targeted on the possible broch revealed foundations of two concentric drystone walls with the space between them forming an intra-mural gallery. Evidence for a flag-stone spiral straircase and internal entrance was also revealed, confirming that the building is a ground-galleried broch. The internal stairway implies that the broch had at least two floors. No evidence for remodelling or later alterations to the broch was identified, but only a small extent of the broch was exposed and extensive stone robbing may have removed later features.
One of the trenches outside the broch uncovered part of a midden relating to postbroch activity, suggesting that the site had been subject to reuse in later periods. A second trench outside the broch provided evidence for a possible causeway that may have provided extra protection to the broch’s occupants.
Further trenches opened to the north of the broch were targeted upon geophysical anomalies thought to be indicative of a wider broch settlement, including a possible wheelhouse. One trench produced only modern disturbance, while a second contained rubble collapse that may suggest the presence of a structure in the vicinity.
The eighth trench was opened within the putative stone circle, c. 200 m to the southwest of the broch, and was able to prove that the orthostats forming this rough circular pattern were in fact natural glacial erratics, as no stone holes were identified.