Dun Bharabhat is one of around 600 brochs in Scotland (a very impressive one not far from our B&B is Carloway Broch).
The word broch, originating from the Old Norse borg and the German burg which means castle or fortress, describes a number of stone roundhouses that were constructed during the period from 300BC to 400AD.
Also known as a dùn – as in Dun Bharabhat on our own Great Bernera – it’s not clear whether their purpose was primarily as a fortress, as a place of refuge for people and animals, or as a sign of wealth, status and prestige.
Unlike Carloway Broch, which was built on top of a hill overlooking the sea, Dun Bharabhat stands on a small oval-shaped islet in a freshwater loch, lending credence to the idea that its primary function was defensive.
The broch covers the whole of the islet and is approximately 12m long by 9m wide. The north wall is the most intact, at around 3m high and one metre thick, and there are remnants of an entrance on the east side. Excavations in the 1980s revealed three main galleries, a hearth, items of pottery and some animal bones and teeth.
The loch is not tidal, but in drier months its water level can sink low enough to uncover a 30m-long causeway, allowing access to the dun without wet feet. When the loch is full, only the tops of a few stones can be seen.
Dun Bharabhat is not far from our B&B. It can be reached by parking at the cattle grid on the Breacleit road and walking westwards for approx. 15 minutes.