Image: Spread from Gavin Morrison “A Typology of Towers” in Stravaigers _ In a fading light (Edinburgh: Sleeper Publications, 2015).
Samuel Johnson’s description of a broch on the west coast of Skye – which he encountered during his Scottish tour with James Boswell in 1773 – is a descriptive listing of form, cultural precedents and possible ascriptions of meaning. In this much, he describes a building as he described words in his A Dictionary of The English Language that was published around twenty years earlier:
An ancient building, called a dun or borough. It was a circular inclosure, about forty-two feet in diameter, walled round with loose stones, perhaps to the height of nine feet. The walls were very thick, diminishing a little toward the top, and though in these countries, stone is not brought far, must have been raised with much labour.