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Broch of Gurness

Orkney Category Historic Sites
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The Broch of Gurness is the best example of one of these Iron Age dwellings that can be found on the Orkney Mainland. There are several other brochs scattered around the Orkney islands, but only Midhowe Broch on Rousay can rival Gurness for its relative completeness. Both of these brochs overlook the turbulent tidal waters of Eynhallow Sound and have many similarities in their design.

Although more than 4000 years separate the periods of the 2 communities, the houses at Gurness have some similarities to the ones to be seen at Skara Brae. However, you can touch & wander amongst the ruins at Gurness, where as the archaeological value of Skara Brae means that you can only look.

The broch would originally have stood 8 metres tall but through the years the towers defensive role became less important and the building was dismantled to provide stone for other dwellings. It is thought that the broch continued to be inhabited as a farmstead until 700 AD. The houses of the village were also scavenged for building materials, but you can still get a feel for what appears to have been a neat and organised community. Far more civilised than you might imagine for a culture existing on what was then the edge of the known world.

Like so many of Orkney's archaeological sites, the Broch of Gurness was not excavated until the late 1920's. At that time it was just a grassy mound. It makes you wonder how many other "finds" might still be buried on these islands.

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