The Caithness Way – No 1. The Caithness Broch Project

The Caithness Way

The Caithness Way is the road less taken, where you can sit back and experience the strangeness of tranquility, the uncompromising beauty of nature, and the magic of the past.

Kennneth McElroy, The Caithness Broch Project

The Caithness Broch Project

The first in our wee series of local and inspirational Caithness enterprises is the very fabulous and exciting Caithness Broch Project! We interviewed Kenneth McElroy, one of the founding partners with Iain Maclean….

Can you tell me a little about your business?

Caithness Broch Project is an archaeological charity seeking to promote Caithness as a heritage tourism destination through the promotion and development of the county’s rich archaeological landscape … and especially highlighting its many fine broch sites!

If you’re wondering what a broch is, think of them as proto-castles; they were huge, drystone towers built over 2000 years ago, during the Iron Age, and are exclusive to Scotland. Some were about 40 feet high – perhaps the world’s first skyscrapers! Archaeologists still debate as what purpose and function they served, but it’s likely that they were homes for important ‘chiefs’.

What inspired you to start-up your business?

Myself and Iain Maclean co-founded CBP in 2013 because we both share a passion for heritage and archaeology, but also for Caithness. Caithness needs to consider life ‘post-Dounreay’, and we believe that tourism is an avenue in which Caithness can really stand out, and help to secure a sustainable future for everyone here. The county is a hidden gem, with castles, beaches, distilleries – oh, and about 200 brochs, too – so it really a great place to visit.

Has anything unusual or surprising happened while you’ve been in business?

This may be a bit blue, and I can’t really go into detail, but we were sent what can only be described as anthropomorphic erotica based on Pictish wolves by a fan on Twitter.

What makes your business special?

I can’t think of many other businesses attempting to build something that hasn’t been built in 2000 years! Our business is to make Caithness even more special than it is, and we think that by rebuilding a broch we can really add to the experience for both locals and tourists.

What are the highlights of being a business based in Caithness?

We live in an area surrounded by history, and full to the brim with intriguing, beautiful, isolated archaeological sites. There is not much better than taking a day to explore them!

Describe your business or product in 3 words?

Live. Laugh. Brochs.

What makes Caithness special to you?

Well … aside from the brochs! It is the lowlands beyond the highlands. It’s not what you expect to find, but it’ll still take your breath away.

What, to you, is the Caithness Way?

The Caithness Way is the road less taken, where you can sit back and experience the strangeness of tranquillity, the uncompromising beauty of nature, and the magic of the past.

What is a normal day to you?

Each day is different, I could be arranging a talk with a school group or a Women’s Institute; or we could be out on a jaunt to take pictures of a broch, or filling out funding applications for all manner of outreach events and projects, ranging from excavations to brochs made from Lego! However, I’d have to say that social media takes over much of my life, so you’ll often find me pottering about on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. That’s been really important in spreading the word of our project! But I’ll also frequently be e-mailing my colleagues, or project partners, or fans of the project, too. I think I’ve sent something like 8000 emails in the last 5 years!

Where is your favourite place in Caithness and why?

You may be surprised to hear that my favourite place in Caithness isn’t a broch! It’s a very secret set of carvings at Sannick Bay near Duncansby Stacks – thousands of tourists bypass it every year! The carvings can only be viewed at low tide, and they are really beautiful.

Does Caithness inspire your business? 

Of course, it’s the very reason why we started our charity!