Carn Liath

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Golspie, Scotland

Carn Liath Golspie Reviews

sarahelaine sarahela…
651 reviews
Carn Liath Jul 18, 2013
Carn Liath is one of the best preserved (but not highest) brochs on the Scottish mainland. Although not as high as the one at the foot of Ben Hope or the ones in Glenelg, you get a better impression of the outbuildings that surrounded it and the internal staircases. It is on the east coast of the Scottish Highlands, close to Golspie. Entrance is free, and apart from crossing the busy A9 road accessibility to at least the outside of the site wouldn’t be a challenge with kids or a buggy.

Brochs are pre-Roman buildings really only found in Scotland. The best preserved ones indicate that they were tall, windowless buildings like giant beehives with thatched roofs, with two massive dry-stone walls that supported each other and allowed a higher building than most structures in Britain at the time. They were either built as fortresses or status symbols, depending on which historian you read, between 1,900 and 2,400 years ago. Dry stone buildings don’t have mortar, sothey relied on incredibly good stone working skills, and those that remain are impressive reminders that the Romans did not encounter a bunch of useless barbarians.

Carn Liath would have been one of the most prosperous, built on fertile land near the coast. The remains show a network of outbuildings, and a central broch that still stands a story high, and has a staircase between the walls. You can walk around the top of the external walls and get a sense for how thick they must have been in their prime. The site is beautiful in its own right, with commanding views over the sea and down to the castle of the Sutherlands in Golspie. There are some interesting information signs, hinting at life in the area. There is also walking nearby, lots of wildflowers and sea birds, and all in all it’s very pleasant . You don’t have to allow long for your visit and I would plan it as part of a longer road trip, perhaps as a stop off on your way to John o’Groats or in combination with a stop at the even more ancient Grey Cairns of Camster at Lybster.

The broch was excavated but it was before modern archaeology, the Duke of Sutherland was in charge and he was an amateur historian, so none of the finds were properly recorded and there isn’t any way of using them to accurately date the settlement or hint at who lived there. Some of them are in the castle nearby but I didn’t visit that.

It’s worth stopping off at this freeattraction on your way north or south, as brochs are unique and interestingS
9 / 9 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
sarahelaine says:
It's one of my favourite parts of the world. It's North of the "true" Highlands - the land is flatter and it's less dramatic - but it's got some amazing archeological remains and incredible places and food. Very few tourists make it this far north so the ones you do meet are often quite interesting - elderly salmon fishers who used to live in Botswana, birdwatchers who are spending three years in a camper van across Europe - it's a surreal sort of place.
Posted on: Sep 22, 2013
jeminigirl says:
It looks such a lovely part of the UK =)
Posted on: Sep 20, 2013
sarahelaine says:
Thank you very much for the comments everyone! I missed the feature completely- I've been away this weekend- it's lovely to come back to all the smiles :)
Posted on: Jul 29, 2013
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photo by: sarahelaine