Cairns of Yarrows

I seem to get more of an awareness of the history of a place if some effort is needed to get there. A car park close by and manicured grounds somehow sterilises a site. Yarrows Broch was quite an adventure, through bogs, under fences, and detours to avoid over-friendly horses.

2,000 years ago, the broch would have been the typical tall drystone tower with cells and galleries in the walls, and stairs leading to individual floors for working and sleeping. When the broch fell into disrepair, the community built their homes around it but the broch was still the centre of the settlement.

One thing that makes Yarrows broch different to others I’ve seen on this trip is its location by the side of a freshwater loch. The Loch of Yarrows (Loch of Yarehouse) is a reservoir and was once used the water supply for Wick, so I guess a natural loch once existed and the water level has been raised1“Dunvegan Castle Dingwall ‘Hold-Up’ The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Aberdeen Journal, 10 Nov. 1932, p. 3. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JE3234510554/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=206a9c00. Accessed 27 May 2021.. But the level shown on the earliest O.S. map (1871) looks to me to be similar to today, so the damming must have been earlier. The broch’s relationship with the landscape has therefore been unfortunately lost.

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    “Dunvegan Castle Dingwall ‘Hold-Up’ The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Aberdeen Journal, 10 Nov. 1932, p. 3. British Library Newspapers, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/JE3234510554/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=GDCS&xid=206a9c00. Accessed 27 May 2021.

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