Broch of West Burrafirth

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Coordinates: 60°17′53″N 1°32′18″W / 60.298185°N 1.538235°W / 60.298185; -1.538235

Broch of West Burrafirth
Broch of West Burrafirth - - 438680.jpg
Remains of the broch on the little holm
Broch of West Burrafirth is located in Shetland
Broch of West Burrafirth
Shown within Shetland
LocationMainland, Shetland
Coordinates60°17′53″N 1°32′18″W / 60.298185°N 1.538235°W / 60.298185; -1.538235
PeriodsIron Age

The Broch of West Burrafirth is an Iron Age broch located on the west side of Mainland, Shetland (grid reference HU25625720).


The broch stands on a low rocky islet (the "Holm of Hebrista") in West Burra Firth.[1] The site is inaccessible without a boat except at very low tide.[1] There was once a causeway from the islet to the shore, which is no longer readily apparent.[1]


The broch is in a ruined state with much fallen debris.[1] The entrance is blocked with stones but the lintel over the inner end is still apparent.[1] There appear to be two guard cells on either side of the entrance passage.[1] Internally four mural cells can be seen, two of which are dumb-bell shaped with short passages between the two halves.[1] The site is a scheduled monument.[2]

Later history[edit]

The Orkneyinga saga states of Magnus Erlendsson and Hákon Paulsson:

"Magnus and Hákon ruled their lands and defended them for some time, the two agreeing very well... They also slew a famous man, named Þorbjörn in Borgarfjörð in Hjaltland."[3]

Borgarfjörð, the "fjord of the borg" was so named by the Norse on account of the broch.[3] It is probable that the reason of Þorbjörn's connection with Borgarfjörð/Burra Firth was its affording him, and his followers a shelter, and a defensive position in the borg, or broch.[3] The old name Borgarfjörð occurs in a document in the Norse language dated 1299.[3]

The broch was visited by George Low in the 18th century, when he noted a number of cells in the base of the wall, and he stated that a hollow, galleried wall began above these.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Historic Environment Scotland. "West Burra Firth (371)". Canmore. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  2. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "West Burra Firth,broch (SM2090)". Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Joseph Anderson, (1873), The Orkneyinga saga. Translated by Jón A. Hjaltalin & Gilbert Goudie. Chapter 35 (page 60)