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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

prehistoric stone tower of the Scottish Highland and isles, 1650s, from Scottish broch, from Old Norse borg "castle," cognate with Old English burh (see borough).


n. (context archaeology English) A type of Iron Age stone tower with hollow double-skinned walls found on Orkney and Shetland and parts of the Scottish mainland.


A broch is an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure of a type found only in Scotland. Brochs belong to the classification "complex atlantic roundhouse" devised by Scottish archaeologists in the 1980s. Their origin is a matter of some controversy. The theory that they were defensive military structures (an Iron Age equivalent to the castles and tower houses of medieval Scotland) is not accepted by many modern archaeologists (see the 'general references' below), while the alternative notion that they were farmhouses is dismissed by some others. Although most stand alone in the landscape, some examples exist of brochs surrounded by clusters of smaller dwellings.

Broch (disambiguation)

Broch is a type of Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure found in Scotland..

Broch may also refer to:

Usage examples of "broch".

Behind them stood a broch that was at least four stories high, with a red and gray pennant flying proudly at the top.

Around to one side of the broch, the wall of the top story had been knocked away.

In the confusion, Jill slipped away, going around behind the broch and finding a quiet spot to sit in the shade of the ruined wall.

Inside stood the squat stone broch and a clutter of round wooden sheds and huts for the servants.

A stone broch rose three floors above a cobbled ward and proper wooden round houses for the important servants.

Gerraent climbed up the side of the broch, working his way up the rough stone while the priest waited below with a basket.

In the middle of this clutter and bustle rose the great broch of the Wyvern clan.

In case of fighting, the broch would become a slaughterhouse for the baffled enemy, because the only way into the half-towers lay through the main one.

Besides the king and his family, the broch complex housed all the noble-born retainers of the court.

Galrion stalked back to the broch, he was determined to have it out with his father over this insult no matter what it cost him.

When he looked down, he saw two armed guards standing at the foot of the broch directly below his window.

Ludda rushed from the broch with a pair of saddlebags and some rolled up blankets.

In the middle of a cobbled and well-drained ward rose a three-story broch, surrounded by enough outbuildings and stables to house a party of a hundred guests.

Behind the inner log palisade rose a squat stone broch, its slits of windows brooding like eyes over the dusty ward.

Gweran went up to his chambers on the third floor of the broch, two rooms opening off the central landing by the spiral staircase, one for his children, one for himself and his wife.