Edin's Hall Broch
Brochs are unique to Scotland. There are well over 500 of them. They emerged in the Iron Age around 2,300 years ago, developing from strong circular roundhouses into tall, imposing buildings. They were drystone structures formed of two concentric walls, with a narrow entrance passage at ground level and small cells entered off the central area. A stone stair corkscrewed its way to the top between the two walls.
Brochs stopped being built in the early centuries AD. The vast majority are spread throughout northern and western Scotland and the islands. Just a handful are found in the Lowlands. They include Edin’s Hall.
Broch or roundhouse
Edin’s Hall has most of the features of a broch. These include a massively thick (over 5m) circular stone wall, a long, narrow entrance passage, guard chambers flanking the doorway, wall chambers and a stone stairway rising up to the wallhead.
But the area enclosed by the circular wall – 22m across – is excessively large compared with a typical Highland broch. This suggests that the wall did not rise to the dizzy heights of the likes of <Mousa Broch> in Shetland, which still stands over 13m high. Edin’s Hall is more akin to a substantial Iron-Age roundhouse than a fully-fledged broch. It is possible that the wall rose to twice its present height of 2m.
A complex history
The broch/roundhouse at Edin’s Hall is just one element in this extraordinarily complex site. It sits in one corner of a prehistoric hill-fort, measuring 134m by 73m.
The site is defined and defended by two large and impressive ramparts and ditches. Within these defences is an array of stone footings marking the positions of houses and other structures. They include a large circular structure (roundhouse) in the centre of the fort, close to the broch, that may have been the most important building before the broch’s construction. Some of the houses overlie the defences – indicating that the site continued to be inhabited even after the need for strong defences had gone.
Edin’s Hall has never been archaeologically investigated, although it was ‘cleared’ by antiquarians in the 19th century. This makes detailed interpretation of the visible remains difficult.
The fort probably dates to the closing centuries BC, with the broch appearing in the 1st or 2nd century AD. But what we can say with some confidence is that the broch was almost certainly never the fortified residence of the legendary giant, ‘the Red Etin’, after which the site was named in the 18th century.
- The walk to it – an exhilarating hike along the banks of the Whiteadder Water.
- The defences – a very impressive display of Iron-Age fortification.
- The broch – a most unusual building to find in the Scottish Lowlands.