The assumption that Mousa broch is a roofed domestic structure affects the ways in which the inhabitants are understood to have navigated the broch's vertical space. For Fojut (1981, 8), the stone stairway was an inconvenient means of moving about the broch, requiring passage through the narrow galleries that ran halfway around the structure before reaching the stairway. Use of internal wooden ladders would have been a far easier method. Armit notes that the stairs 'show very little sign of wear…it seems improbable that they were used much for day to day access' (2003, 61) and, employing the same approach as Fojut, reaches the same conclusion: 'the function may imply access to the upper galleries was sometimes intended but…the greatest use was made during the construction of the building when they might have made it easier to haul stonework to the upper courses' (ibid.).
In Armit and Fojut's model, inner floors and supporting ladders are projected into this space. Because the stairs are an inconvenient way of navigating a roofed/floored broch, once completed they become a non-functional component in the structure. If these conclusions are correct, we must assume that the plan and construction of Mousa broch incorporated impractical stairs and useless space into its design. In the roofed broch, stairs and staircase become an incidental by-product of the construction process, more or less abandoned once the structure is completed. In stark contrast, Dryden's (1890) model of an unroofed Mousa is capable of incorporating the apparent constructional anomalies into a more functional (albeit unrecognised) design. The wall head admits light. At certain times of the year, the stairs, internal walls and voids will be illuminated by the sun. As well as navigating the distance to the wall head, the stairs become a place from which to enter or observe the courtyard or gallery spaces at each of the six levels. In an unroofed broch, the courtyard is a lit space, visible from higher up in the broch.
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