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Building brochs: Lego masterpiece 2000 years in the making

Dan Harris and James Pegrum used 10,000 bricks to create the historical model.

Broch: The historical Lego building took a year to build.
Broch: The historical Lego building took a year to build. Arran Sinclair / cropped

Brick by brick, a pair of Lego and history enthusiasts have created a replica of an Iron Age broch.

Using more than 10,000 pieces, Lego bricklayers Dan Harris and James Pegrum have completed their historical masterpiece almost one year since plans were revealed to build the ancient Scottish tower.

Both members of the Brick to the Past group of Lego enthusiasts, the piece is one of many spectacular historically-themed models created by the group.

It features as part of Scotland's Year of History Heritage and Archaeology.

The drystone towers, thought to be around 2000 years old, have been recreated in intricate detail by Dan and James, with their model covering 1.4 metres squared and the broch itself standing at 40cm tall.

The intricate model was difficult to build due to the tapered walls.
The intricate model was difficult to build due to the tapered walls. Arran Sinclair

Dan says his latest project was his most challenging Lego building to date.

It features different levels showing how the Iron Age building may have been used, from drying fish near the roof to keeping cattle on the lowest floor.

The model was at one point split across the UK, with Dan working on the main broch centrepiece in Aviemore while James completed the expansive landscape featuring fishermen and farmers at his home in Devon almost 600 miles away

Dan, who has also helped build other historical Lego dioramas including Hadrian's Wall and Corgarff Castle, said he was especially excited by the opportunity to create the broch.

The expansive model is 1.4 metres squared and 40cm tall.
The expansive model is 1.4 metres squared and 40cm tall. Dan Harris

"We love history and believe that Lego offers a great way of engaging both young and old in the subject," he explains.

"So when Caithness Broch Project approached us we jumped at the chance to work with them.

"Because of the broch's round but tapered shape, this is undoubtedly the most challenging model I have ever built but it's been a fascinating subject and great fun to make.

Commissioned by the Caithness Broch Project, the model has been the focus of a project to highlight the archaeological heritage of Caithness, which has more than 180 brochs.

Funded by Santander's Discovery Foundation, the Lego building is part of a wider project to explore the archaeology of Caithness, including the conservation and consolidation of an existing broch at Ousdale and an archaeological festival taking place from August.

It is hoped the Lego model will help children engage with history.
It is hoped the Lego model will help children engage with history. Arran Sinclair

Kenneth McElroy from the Caithness Broch project was delighted with the finished version, which was commissioned almost a year ago.

"We took Brick to the Past on a tour to see some of the brochs in Caithness, I'm not sure if any had actually seen or possibly heard of them before but they went back and did their own research," he explains.

"They also created a build your own broch for us and the model itself was completed a month ago.

"The reaction has been fantastic, we've already had a couple of kids coming in who are delighted with it and that's what it's all about, children engaging with archaeology and igniting that spark."

The broch is on display at Caithness Horizons Museum until October 16, as part of a wider exhibition about the Iron Age buildings.

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