The Big Broch Build - A Project Update

Category: Project Update
Written By


Caithness Broch Project

The big broch build 1

Perhaps our broch might look a bit like this? A great wee illustration by Mark Stacey

A quick update on our flagship project, which, if you didn't know by now, is the construction of a replica broch. This would be the first attempt to do so in 2,000 years, and we want to build the broch in #Caithness - the 'Home of the Broch' - which has the highest concentration of brochs IN THE WORLD. So take that, Paraguay.

…Because we're not just #Brochbattles, bad jokes, memes and quizzes, y'know. These things are fun but we've been working on a this important and delicate project since our inception in 2013.

Now, that might seem like a long time, but we cannot stress how unique, complex and MASSIVE this project is: it is multi-million pound venture. So these things do take a bit of time, and sometimes it's just not interesting to say 'ooh we did a SWOT analysis today'. So better to let things occur over a few months and then give you a wee update!

Anyway - we have been liaising with our project development brief consultants, the award-winning Hoskins Architects and Jura Consultants for over a year now, working on a sort of 'route map' for instigating the construction of our ambitious project.

As part of this, over the past year we've been whittling the 30-or-so broch sites offered to us (including one site which was in Sutherland!) to just 3 sites. We'll share these with you very soon.

More recently, we have been consulting with a number of community councils, and keeping them abreast of our developments - latterly, we hope to engage with each of these community areas to garner their opinions on having our broch built in their local area. We will, in the very near future, be sharing surveys and questionnaires with these local communities, so we can gauge the level of support or interest in our project - certainly this is an important aspect of the project, as we want to work synergistically (is that a word? Let's say it is.) with the community where our broch will be situated.

At the same time Jura Consultants have been working on analysis of the funding landscape, which in many ways has seen drastic changes given the impact of coronavirus, and it makes for interesting reading. It's not all doom and gloom for the heritage sector though, and there are still opportunities to ensure we can progress the project. We are due to meet with them this week to discuss this part of the project further.

The big broch build 2

A photo of Morven, Caithness' highest point at 2316 ft, taken from near one of our proposed broch build locations (subsequently discarded).

A *hugely* important part of the project is planning: we might be building a 2,000 year old broch, but we still have to ahdere to modern standards! To this end we ent in a pre-application to Highland Council for all four sites, to get a better understanding of what sort of issues we might need to contend with for each site.

For example, would a broch build complement the environs? Is road access safe? Does it feature in the local area development plan? Does it meet planning standards - and many more questions to be answered. There is a so much to consider at each site - and each site has different drawbacks and advantages. We have to contest with 21st century sensibilities, procedures and regulations when thinking about a 2,000 year old structure. So it's tricky to navigate some of these considerations: it's still classed as a 'new build', which gets me everytime.

We received the pre-app back from Highland Council recently, and it made for interesting reading - it essentially removed one contender from our shortlist - and helped us to understand what we need to add or develop at each of our sites.

Hoskins have also been busy looking at preliminary costings for each area, and what might be involved in creating the best possible environment for the broch - looking at landscaping and amenties in greater detail. Again, this was very interseting to see, and we met on Monday to discuss it further. A very fruitful chat which could have gone on for a long time. There's not an enough hours in the evening!

The big broch build 3

The now-ubiquitious Zoom call!

As well as that, we've been looking to get some really wonderful visualisations made up of our broch. A few years ago we had a basic model created, developed from Iain's original drawings by Robin Herrick. More recently we re-developed these to include all the latest in broch thinking, incorporating aspects of The Cairns Broch in Orkney. These models have subsequently been turned into gorgeously-rendered 3D broch images by a very talented digital illustrator: our dream has truly been brought to life! We can't share these images with you just yet, but they look pretty spectacular: the next step is to have them included or overlaid onto the sites we have in mind. Which should look even cooler!

If you like the sound of all of this, and you want to be the FIRST to see these visualisations - and the first to know about all our exciting updates and progress - as well as help to support CBP, then we'd really appreciate your support. Please visit our website and join as a Friend of Member today -

But, basically, see you later 2021, and onwards to the next phase of the #BigBrochBuild!