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Carn Liath Broch (Golspie, Scotland)

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An iron Age "broch" (fort)located on the Sutherland coast in Scotland.

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      13.12.2011 18:09
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      A remarkable peice of Scottish history in a unique location

      Review of Carn Liath Broch, near Golspie, Sutherland, Scotland.
      Carn Liath is a Broch (pronounced 'Brock') situated on the Sutherland coast of North East Scotland.

      This broch a superb example of a broch - a type of fortification found only in Scotland. There are over 500 of them across the country, both on the mainland and the islands. The majority of brochs can be found in northern and western Scotland.

      Brochs date from the Iron Age of around 2,300 years ago. The last Brochs were built in the early centuries AD. The name 'Carn Liath' means grey hill in Gaelic.

      **Location, Access and Inside Carn Liath**

      Carn Liath broch is located on the A9 road, approximately 3miles east of Gollies.
      There is a large lay-by for parking opposite the broch. Caution should be taken crossing the road as the A9 is a very busy main route.
      There are buses that run along the A9 from Inverness to Wick, although there is a bus stop fairly close to the broch, buses are not that frequent.

      Entrance to the broch site is through a narrow footpath. The actual broch is enclosed by fencing and a small wooden gate allows entry to the grounds.
      Brochs are thought to have developed from strong circular houses into tall, imposing buildings. They were drystone structures formed of two concentric walls, with a narrow entrance passage at ground level.

      There are several colourful and interesting information boards around the site which give lots of facts about Carn Liath and the surrounding area. Carn Liath now survives to a height of 3m, but when it was built, it would have reached to at least three times that.
      To get inside the broch you walk in through the ground level entrance arch. This is rather low, so being 5ft 9 ins tall, I definitely had to stoop! The entrance arch leads into the main body of the broch. This is a large round area with several smaller rooms leading off. These rooms would have been used for storage rather than living areas. The centre of the main room would have held a large fireplace, which would have been used for cooking and heating. The broch would have housed many people and their animals. Obviously, no longer visible, there would have been several tiers built into the sides of the main walls, rather like mezzanines which would have been used for sleeping and storage.
      Carn Liath has a stone stairway which corkscrews its way upwards between the two walls to the top. This is still in good condition and you are able to climb the stairs.
      Entry to Carn Liath and the nearby parking are free. The is a collection box at the broch for donations. It should be noted that there are no facilities at all at Carn Liath, however tourists can find bars, cafés and other facilities around 3 miles away in Golspie.

      **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

      I found Carn Liath by chance. My partner and I were on a touring holiday of Scotland and had parked our camper van in the lay-by opposite Carn Liath in order to take a lunch break. We spotted the raised grassy hillock in the field opposite and decided to investigate. We were the only visitors to the broch at the time and were able to take our time wandering around.

      We were particularly impressed by the stone staircase, these were well trodden steps that led up top the roof. We climbed the stone stairs and on reaching the roof top, we saw what amazing view the broch had over both the sea and the surrounding countryside. As you climb the steps, you can imagine how life must have been inside the building and looking back into the main body of the broch it is easy to visualise the smoky peat fires burning day and night with cauldrons of food bubbling away!

      I feel Carn Liath must have been an important broch possibly used for defence in its day given the coastal location. I understand from the information on site that the tallest broch discovered is 'Mousa' located on the Shetland Islands and this is still 13 metres high. Carn Liath would have been small in comparison, although when standing on the roof top looking out to sea, you certainly got a feeling of height!
      I felt the broch had a wonderful atmosphere, it is very well preserved and cared for by the Scottish Tourist Board. The grass surrounding the building was well tended and all in all, it was a very interesting place to visit.

      In my opinion Carn Liath is suitable for all age groups, however, access could be difficult for those with mobility issues.

      I would definitely recommend Carn Liath to others, it is certainly worth a visit if you are in the Sutherland area.

      Thank you for reading
      ©brittle1906 December 2011

      N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.

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