Lost Broch

16th - 19th September 2016

Join us on the hunt for the site of a long-lost 2,000 year-old Celtic tower

180.8% Funded
£4,520 Pledged
£2,500 Goal

About the Project

We’re on the hunt for a 2,000 year-old Celtic tower. But this is no ordinary tower: first discovered in 1870, the site was ignored at the time by the archaeological establishment because Christian Maclagan, who discovered it, was a woman.

We think we’ve now found her long-lost site and we want you to help us excavate it, restore the reputation of this trailblazing female archaeologist and the site she discovered.

We believe we’ve found the location of a Celtic tower (also known as a broch) that was first identified in the 1870s, but never further investigated. Excavation of the site would confirm the presence of the only known broch in what is now an urban environment, and provide a new window into Scotland’s prehistoric past. But most importantly, it would also bring attention to the work of Christian Maclagan, a pioneering Scots archaeologist whose work, and the incredible site she discovered, have been ignored and left unexcavated for nearly 150 years. We’re crowdfunding a four-day excavation in Stirling (16th to 19th September 2016) to find it, excavate its remains, and finally bring Christian the recognition she deserves! So if you’d like to help uncover a lost prehistoric building AND help restore the reputation of a trailblazing female archaeologist, this is your chance!

Can I still support the dig?

Hooray! We reached our first crowdfunding target of £2,500! And now that we’ve exceeded it, there’s EVEN MORE reason to support the dig…

With the dig covered, we’ve given ourselves a stretch-goal of £5,000, and we’re keeping the campaign open during the course of the dig to help us achieve it. Why? Well, what we’d really love to do next is some geophysics to get an EVEN BETTER understanding of what’s underground. The geophysics survey will take place after the dig, but if you make a pledge now, you’ll be helping us do an EVEN MORE detailed report on Christian’s lost broch. Your support is now more valuable than ever!

We still have places on the excavation team (16th-19th September 2016) available (as well as lots of t-shirts, tours, and postcards for those of you who want to support us from a distance). Take your pick and help us reach our next goal and we’ll be able to do a really extensive survey that could reveal as-yet-undiscovered features… and help bring Christian’s lost broch the attention it deserves in even more detail!

Who was Christian Maclagan?

In 1870 Christian Maclagan, arguably Scotland’s first female archaeologist, identified a broch (a 2,000 year old Celtic tower) in her home city of Stirling. At that time, women were not permitted full membership of Scotland’s leading archaeological body, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which meant that Maclagan could not become a Fellow because she was not a ‘fellow’. Although she did become one of the earliest ‘Lady Associates’ of the Society, her work was never given its due, and her key paper on the site was only accepted because it was transcribed by a man. But the broch was never further investigated, and was subsequently forgotten. Our project aims to locate and excavate Maclagan’s site and we’d love your support.

Tell me about the archaeology

Brochs are tower-like stone structures, unique to Scotland, dating from around 2,000 years ago. Though they are found across Scotland, their primary concentration is along Scotland’s Atlantic Coast. The most famous brochs (such as Mousa, Carloway, Dun Telve, Eden’s Hall and Clickimin) are substantial double-skinned buildings with multiple floors, staircases, cells and galleries. In fact, brochs are the only known extant prehistoric buildings in northwest Europe with multiple floors. There are, however, a series of contemporary and related architectural forms: duns, homesteads, cashels and ring-forts. The curious thing is that in and around Stirling, brochs appear to have been adopted slightly later than elsewhere in Scotland, and are widely assumed to be connected with conspicuous consumption associated with the arrival of the massive Roman market to the south and most are associated with strategic trading locations.

Tell me what you’re looking for

This will be the first ever excavation of the site, which was probably occupied during the Roman occupation of Scotland over 1,500 years ago. The first thing we want to do is confirm that broch is actually there. We also want to determine its size, identify any external boundaries and find any kitchen middens. Everything we learn about the site in the course of the excavation will not only contribute to our knowledge of Scotland’s prehistory, but will also help us re-establish Maclagan’s reputation by confirming her discoveries.

How can I support the project?

We’re crowdfunding the excavation and any contribution you make will help fund the dig as well as post-excavation analysis in the lab. You can support the dig from a distance, and choose any of our great benefits in return. We’ll also be posting updates to social media throughout the project, and you’ll be able to watch professional archaeologists at work in the trenches from the comfort of your own home!


Can I actually join the dig?

Yes! If you choose ‘Dig For A Day’, ‘Dig for Two Days’ or ‘Dig for Four Days’, you’ll actually get to join the excavation team in the trenches and learn hands-on about Scotland’s ancient brochs all while actually helping to dig one! Whichever way you choose to get involved, you’ll be part of the team carrying out the first scientific excavation of this lost broch site and helping us right an age-old wrong by bringing the unfairly overlooked work of an early female archaeologist to light.

Who will be leading the excavation?

Anyone who supports the dig at ‘Dig for a Day’ level and above will be trained by Dr Murray Cook, MA Hons FSA Scot, MIFA, Tech IOSH an expert in the Scottish Iron Age, and his team. Murray graduated from Edinburgh in 1995, was a Director of AOC Archaeology, worked for Oxford Archaeology and is currently the archaeologist for Stirling, Clackmannanshire and North Lanarkshire Councils and is an Honorary Research Fellow at Stirling University. He has excavated on 13 hillforts in Scotland, is the co-founder of Rampart Scotland, and has contributed to the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework.

What evidence do you have that you’ve rediscovered it?

In 2014, Dr Murray Cook visited the area Maclagan described to search for evidence of the remains she reported. He identified what appears to be the remains of the broch, but this needs to be confirmed by fieldwork.

Who benefits from the project?

Everyone! We’re going to publish all the finds, and the official report, on the project’s website, so that any discoveries you help us make will be freely available for the rest of the world to see. Everyone who supports the project will be credited with their contributions, including anything they find. For archaeologists, it will provide fresh new sources of information to help study this fascinating period, as well as to finally get Christian MacLagan the recognition she deserves as the site’s original discoverer. Excavating the site will allow us to prove whether or not Maclagan’s original interpretation was correct, help raise her profile, and also provide valuable insights into Scotland’s prehistory. Finally, if we do confirm the site, you’ll have helped us locate the only broch yet discovered in what is now an urban environment.

What’s it like to join the field team?

You really will get to be an archaeologist while you’re on site with us. We take this promise very seriously! We’ll teach you all the skills you need to work alongside us in the trenches, and you will be making real and recognized contributions to internationally important research. All we need now to complete the team is YOU!

Are there any age limits?

This dig is appropriate for people of any skill level. Total beginners welcome! We will train you up with all the skills you need. Must be 17 or older. We can accommodate a range of physical mobility. If you have concerns or questions about this, please get in touch with us to chat about if before you arrive on site.

So how do I sign up?

Once you’ve decided what level of support you want to give, and what benefit you want in return, just make your pledge. You will receive an email from us acknowledging your pledge and welcoming you to the team. If you’re joining the team in the field, we’ll also be in touch to confirm your dig dates. We’ll ship all physical merchandise once the campaign closes – those of you joining the field team will receive your items when you arrive. We’ll also add you to our email list to keep you up to date with any developments on the project.

How do I get in touch with the project team?

We’re here for you! All emails sent to stirlingslostbroch@outlook.com will be read and replied to by one of the team. We’re also on Twitter (@lostbroch), Facebook and YouTube and Google+. Our number is 07929848145 but we’re often out on site, so email is best.

Where can I find out more about the project?

We’re online and will be sharing updates about the project throughout the campaign and the dig itself, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter, as well as our blog.

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