Television crew turns focus on Mousa Broch

Mousa Broch will star in a television programme next week that looks at the country’s most interesting buildings.

The ancient stone tower will feature in the series Britain’s Secret Homes as one of 50 buildings deemed by the UK’s national heritage bodies as some of the country’s more unusual and intriguing properties.

Historic Scotland picked the Iron Age broch alongside Orkney’s Knap of Howar, Traquair House in the Borders and Rock House in Edinburgh to feature in the programme, which is presented by Michael Buerk and Bettany Hughes.

The ITV crew filming at Mousa Broch which will feature in a show to be screened next week. Photo courtesy of ITV
The ITV crew filming at Mousa Broch which will feature in a show to be screened next week. Photo courtesy of ITV

English Heritage, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service Cadw and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency also picked homes for the series based on factors such as national importance, cultural significance, historical value and beauty.

Speaking about the programme, Elly McCrone – the Historic Scotland expert who suggested a number of Scottish properties for the series – said: “From an Iron Age broch to Scotland’s oldest inhabited house, this exciting series examines some of Scotland’s most interesting homes. Spanning thousands of years, it investigates the unique relationship people have with the spaces they live in, and the ways in which that relationship has evolved over the centuries.

Britain’s Secret Homes serves to highlight the breadth of fascinating historic homes in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

Mousa Broch will feature in the show on Friday 28th June, ITV at 9pm.


Add Your Comment
  • Darren Fullerton

    • June 20th, 2013 13:49

    I believe Dads company took the crew across to the Mousa Broch earlier this year. ‘Mousa Boats’ runs a daily ferry back an forth to the mainland. There is even a brilliant midnight trip for people to watch the fascinating Storm Petrels comes back to their nests, amazing sight.

    The Broch itself is nice but the island is good too.

  • Brian Smith

    • June 21st, 2013 8:07

    One of Scotland’s ‘most interesting homes’, eh? It must have been draughty.

  • John Tulloch

    • June 21st, 2013 9:02

    And no “Green Deal” to “end fuel poverty” either! AND the Picts were described by the Romans as going around half-naked?

    I wonder if, contrary to what “scientists say” on the BBC, it might actually have been warmer then than it is now?

  • James Mackenzie

    • June 22nd, 2013 14:40

    Re Brian’s comment, I couldn’t resist a smile when I read the following in Robert Macfarlane’s “The Wild Places” today:
    “Then he pointed up at an outcrop ridge of sand and rock, which ran lateral to the river, hackled with green marram grass. Up there was a broch, he said, the remains of an Iron Age broch. Its walls were fifteen feet thick! In those days, he said with a slow smile, they knew how to keep the wind out of a building.”
    And a little later:
    “I stepped inside, and was surprised by the sudden calm.”

  • Brian Smith

    • June 23rd, 2013 9:00

    I was thinking principally about the roof!

  • James Mackenzie

    • June 23rd, 2013 14:02

    I know Wikipedia can be notoriously unreliable, and I’m sure Brian knows a lot more about the Mousa broch, where there may be evidence that there was probably no roof, than I do, but nonetheless:
    “Though there was much argument in the past, it is now generally accepted that brochs were roofed, probably with a conical timber framed roof covered with a locally sourced thatch. The evidence for this assertion is still fairly scanty, though excavations at Dun Bharabhat, Lewis, have supported it. The main difficulty with this interpretation continues to be the potential source of structural timber, though bog and driftwood may have been plentiful sources”.

    Incidentally, isn’t the Staneydale temple considered to have been roofed, supported by spruce timbers?

  • Brian Smith

    • June 23rd, 2013 15:24

    I doot the roof of a building the height of Mousa broch would not have survived the Shetland gales long. As long ago as 1792 the political economist James Anderson spotted that brochs couldn’t have been dwelling houses. ‘[N]o human art’, he said, ‘could have been employed ever to wipe away the clods of soot that must have been formed’ in such a dwelling-house if it had had a roof.

  • Robert Sim

    • June 23rd, 2013 21:12

    I recall a talk which Brian gave some time ago in which he set out a theory, as I recall it, that the brochs were more like signalling towers – ie they were not used as dwellings. The theory is backed up by the fact that the brochs can be seen from one another. I believe Brian and Gordon Johnston have been working on a book on the subject. It is therefore absurd to make a programme about their use as “homes”.

  • Brian Smith

    • June 30th, 2013 20:57

    The programme was even worse – much, much worse! – than I feared …

  • David Spence

    • July 2nd, 2013 0:32

    I find it hard to believe that such massive constructions like the Mousa Broch or similar may have been used a signalling towers when smaller constructions could have been built on higher ground. Mousa Broch is literally at sea level in terms of land altitude, but the height of the Broch would mean it could, possibly with fire or smoke, signal a greater distance.

    However, what was the purpose of this in terms of communication? If many of these Broch’s were close to the sea I can understand them being used as indicators of land, where the height of the Broch would reach a greater distance out to sea. If this was the case, it would also indicate that the people who built them were good sea navigators and possible trading distances greater than, lets say, local or island to island.


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