Midhowe Broch Rousay - what's in a name?

Lots of folk (ok maybe not lots, it depends where you’re reading this from!) will have visited Midhowe broch in Rousay:

Midhowe Broch, Rousay just down the coast from Swandro
Midhowe Broch, Rousay just down the coast from Swandro

but how many of you have stopped to wonder why it’s called Midhowe? Howe is easy – from the Old Norse Haugr = a mound, but why the mid?

Simples really – there’s three brochs at the bottom of that steep hill in Rousay! North Howe - which is on the hill behind Midhowe and then there’s South Howe, which from the landward side looks like a big green lump next to the ruins of Brough Farm, but if you go on the beach you can see it eroding away nicely:


The eroding broch wall at South Howe
The eroding broch wall at South Howe with a 2m ranging pole scale

The dig site at Swandro is about half a mile further south along the coast than South Howe, and that’s Eynhallow Sound aka the Atlantic ocean on the right. The surveying team are standing on what looks like a manmade platform but it’s actually natural Orkney stone, very good for building with & that’s what all the archaeology’s built out of. Lasts forever – unless of course it gets in the way of the Atlantic then it’s not so good.


Recording the eroding broch at South Howe
Recording the eroding broch at South Howe

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