Brochs were homes. In an inhospitable climate people need somewhere warm and dry to live. On entering the broch the light and heat from the hearth and from lamps around the living spaces lit up your surroundings and welcomed you. A maze of wooden and stone uprights partitioned the space into areas used for specific purposes, leisure and work. The hearth was the most important feature of the interior, its focus - not just physically, but symbolically. This, the centre of the home, was where friends gathered to socialise and discuss community matters and others came to negotiate, to make and seal alliances.

Brochs dominated their surrounding landscapes. Imposing structures, often surrounded by village-like settlements, they exercised psychological power over the minds of the community. They were beacons of belonging. The communities who lived in and amongst the brochs were farmers, fishermen, fowlers, gatherers and hunters of wild animals. The plentiful bounty of the local environment provided resources for eating and drinking but also other useful materials. Bones from deer, whale and cattle were transformed into a variety of objects. Stone was used in almost every area of life; iron ore was mined and turned into tools and weapons. Nothing that could be used was overlooked. Maintaining contacts and relationships with others groups and individuals was vitally important. The broch communities did not live isolated lives. Their contacts with groups in surrounding areas, such as Sutherland and Shetland, brought different objects, rare materials and new ideas into Caithness. From further afield came exotic materials - such as amber from the Baltic. And glass and pottery fragments speak of connections with the Roman world. Objects could enable contact of a different sort, contact with a world beyond. Many objects are related to mysterious systems of rituals and beliefs.