Dun Carloway, Isle of Lewis

The broch at Carloway (Carlabagh) on the Isle of Lewis is an Iron Age monument that was probably constructed about the 1st century BCE and occupied initially until about 500 CE. Brochs are a type of circular roundhouse or tower construction unique to Scotland. Dun Carloway (Dùn Chàrlabhaigh) is a well-preserved example, with the back wall rising to a height of around 9 metres. The partial collapse shows the double-walled construction technique and reveals the internal staircase that gave access to upper floors.

Dun Carloway is set on a prominent knoll, south of the modern township of Carloway. It is owned by a community land owner, the Carloway Estate Trust (Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh). There is a small visitor centre by the carpark, managed by Urras nan Tursachan (The Standing Stones Trust). The broch itself is a ‘property in care of the state’, one of the first sites to be given such protection (in 1887), and is under the guardianship of Historic Environment Scotland.

The broch was regularly in use after the initial phase of occupation, as a site for light-industry, residence, and shelter. In the 1600s, it was reportedly used as a refuge by members of the Morrison clan following a cattle raid on the local MacAuley clan, but they were smoked out when burning heather was thrown down on them from the walls.

The area surrounding Dun Carloway is worked croft land and contains other evidence of earlier phases of settlement, in the form of ruined ‘blackhouses’ from the 19th and 20th centuries, alongside modern occupied homes.

View Dun Carloway on googlemaps.

View the research Site Report for Dun Carloway Broch.

View Historic Environment Scotland’s 3D model of Dun Carloway Broch on Sketchfab.