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Caithness brochs: The latest airbnb destinations?

By Iain Grant

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The Caithness Broch Project is planning to build a full-size replica broch. Picture: Bob Marshall
The Caithness Broch Project is planning to build a full-size replica broch. Picture: Bob Marshall

Could Iron Age brochs become the new des res of the airbnb scene in Scotland?

The tantalising if fanciful prospect has sprung up in the wake of the Scottish Government's plans to license short-term lets.

According to the VisitScotland website, properties which will have to comply include B&Bs, guesthouses, cottages, castles, farmhouses and lodges.

But the 'hit-list' it posts also covers unconventional residencies such as boathouses, yurts, treehouses, lighthouses.... and brochs.

The inclusion of the latter has intrigued those behind the Caithness Broch Project (CBP).

"Holy moly – you can now officially live in a broch," was the immediate reaction of spokesman Kenneth McElroy.

Brochs, believed to have served as fortified dwellings, had their heyday more than 2000 years ago.

Boasting around 200, Caithness has the largest concentration in Scotland, with CBP intent on building what would be the first, modern full-size replica broch.

Mr McElroy, a director with CBP, was nonplussed to see brochs featuring on the VisitScotland list.

"I'm not terribly sure what the reasoning is," he said. "Hopefully it is not a mistake and they mixed it up with bothy."

He added: "It is kind of bizarre to see them mentioned but it's also quite fun.

"Whatever the reason, it's always good to see brochs getting recognised.

"Who knows – maybe there will be a flurry of broch-building across the country?"

The Scottish Government later revealed that the list posted by VisitScotland is erroneous.

"Brochs aren't included in the legislation," said a spokeswoman.

VisitScotland later sought to clarify this issue.

A spokesman said: “The term ‘broch’ is used by some self-catering providers in the tourism industry as a marketing tool to describe the distinctiveness of their property to customers.

"However, we recognise the confusion that could be caused by including broch, and we’re currently reviewing the short-term lets information on our website."

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