Skip to content
Historic Scotland
Historic Scotland

Opening times

For visitor information, telephone the Blackhouse, Arnol on 01851 710 395.

 

History

A stronghold,  a family home, and a kiln 

Dun Carloway was probably built in around 200 BC and may have been occupied by a local chief, as a symbol of status and control over the local landscape and resources. Excavations and traditions show that the broch continued in use, intermittently, over a long period of time. Over the centuries it has also been used as: 

  • a pottery kiln  
  • shelter for the Morrisons of Ness during a cattle raid on the MacAulays in the 1500s (according to tradition) 
  • a home for a respectable looking family living in the ground flat as late as the 1870s 

Stunning spot 

Dun Carloway is a striking monument in the landscape. This impressive example of Iron Age architecture may have been designed to make a bold statement of status, wealth or power. It was also easily defended, sitting high on a rocky outcrop, with wide views for miles around. 

The broch tower is in an excellent state of repair. It’s the best-preserved Iron Age building in Lewis, and at 9m tall, one of only a handful of broch towers surviving to near its original height. 

The collapsed area of wall reveals  a perfect cross-section of the broch. Its main features include: 

  • a double-skinned wall with two tiers of internal galleries 
  • a ground-level low entrance passage into the broch 
  • a small cell, possibly a guard-room, off the passage 
  • a stairway that originally led to the upper floor(s) 
  • a stone ledge, or scarcement, on the inside face of the wall which probably supported the upper floor 

Uniquely Scottish  

Brochs appear only in Scotland. They consist of drystone towers formed of two concentric walls, with a narrow passage and small cells. A stone stair corkscrews between the inner and outer walls to the top. 

There are well over 500 brochs in Scotland, most of them found in northern and western Scotland and the islands.  

Download our visitor app

Discover more on the go – the Historic Scotland app lets you find out about Scotland’s most iconic places wherever you are.

Save with an Explorer Pass

Get free entry to Scotland’s top visitor attractions with an Explorer Pass valid for 3 days or 7 days.

Become a member

Join Historic Scotland to visit our properties free of charge for a full year and support our work at the same time.

Hire a site for filming

Use one of our fantastic locations on your next shoot for an awe-inspiring backdrop to your work.

View learning activities

Our 300+ historic places serve as creative inspiration for all sorts of learning activities – and for learners of all ages.

Search our events

See the past brought to life by the imaginative year-round programme of events at our properties.