Ousdale Broch - The Story so Far!
Well, our first blog post in about 3 years. But there's been a bit of a 'lull' in activity recently around the world - perhaps you've noticed?
Let's not dwell on these matters, and, instead, use this as an opportunity to recap what has happened at Ousdale Burn Broch, also known as 'Allt a'Bhurg Broch'.
We've been interested in this broch for a number of years now. Don't believe us? Check our our appearance on BBC Landward all the way back in 2016:
(And check out the fear in Dougie Vipond's eyes around the 2:00 mark)
The Broch is located just barely a mile north of the Caithness/Sutherland border, just south of the quaint village of Berriedale. Situated at the bottom of a hill which overlooks the Ousdale Burn and the Allt a''Bhurg (which translated to 'Stream of the Fort'. 'Bhurg' is a derivation of 'Borg' which is old Norse for 'fort'...more on this later!), it is an impressive location, and the broch itself is quite possibly the 'best' broch in Caithness. It is now a prominent feature in the John O'Groats trail, which we highly recommend you check out.
Above: Map of the general area
Below: The broch in the landscape. Photo by National Geographic photographer, Jim Henderson, whom we invited around Caithness in early 2019
If your computer is up to it, then Merlinworks also produced this rather lovely 3D model of Ousdale Broch - so why not have a wee whizz around?
The Norse and Ousdale
This area is dense with archaeological remains: at Berriedale there are the traces of brochs, castles, standing stones; the Strath of Kildonan which runs through Helmsdale is littered with souterrains, hut circles and stone rows. Close to the broch are the remains of Badbae Clearance Village, but, lying even closer are the scant remains of 'Borg', a post-Medieval clearance village, but which likely goes back even further: the name 'Borg' is indeed a Norse name, and so may date back over 1,000 years.
Above: The remains of Borg village - the broch can just be seen in the background: follow the fenceline!
Below: One of the longhouses at Borg
There is plenty more archaeological evidence for Norse occupation can be found across the east coast of Caithness and Sutherland. At Huna the remains of a Viking Boat was discovered, and at Freswick Links there is evidence for Norse occupation - perhaps a fish-processing factory of sorts!