Cairn Merk

The impressive, unexcavated remains of a river-side broch.

what3words Location


  • Approx. 2.5km


  • Park in the car park by the building on the east side of Westerdale Bridge.


  • Boots or wellies required - rough underfoot.
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible

Additional Information

Cairn Merk - the first of an enjoyable romp to three brochs.

The River Thurso comprises 26 miles of the finest trout and salmon fishing, but we’re only interested in about three of them. Close to the photogenic Westerdale Bridge there are not one, not two, but FIVE brochs – 2,000-year-old drystone towers unique to Scotland – all situated close to the banks of the river.

It has been suggested that Cairn Merk, however, holds a unique distinction amongst Caithness brochs: it has a moat-like defence which fills in during a sudden flood!

For a longer ramble, check out our guide to Tulach Mor, further along the river.

You can find out more about Cairn Merk, as well as other archaeological and historical sites, on Canmore, Scotland’s historic environment record.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Although the River Thurso is famed for its abundance of wild salmon it is believed that the iron age people of Caithness abstained from the eating of fish. As of yet its not been made clear exactly why this is the case.

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