THE Caithness Broch Project has now identified four potential sites for its world heritage replica Iron Age broch and visitor centre along the North Coast 500 route – which has recently been hailed one of the best road trips in the world.

The project, backed by The National as media partner, is seeking public feedback on the sites at John O’Groats, Lybster, Keiss and Yarrows before making their final decision on where the major tourist attraction will be created.

The project’s chairman and co-founder, Kenneth McElroy, 27, who is also project manager for the North Coast (NC) 500, said: “We have chosen four sites along the North Coast 500 in Caithness.

“We thought that was quite important because it is an up-and-coming route for tourists in Scotland. It has been a phenomenal success, so we thought – why not take advantage of that? A big part of the project is to be sustainable and we need this to be a success.If it means tagging along with something that is already successful then we will use it to our advantage.

“We have four key sights in mind but cannot say specifically where they are. What we can say is that they are in the Lybster, Keiss and Yarrows area and John O’Groats.”

The project issued a survey last week and have already had around 200 responses through Survey- Monkey.

The project’s business planners Alan Jones Associates in Inverness will gather the data.

McElroy added: “We will probably close the survey at the end of next week but the more the merrier. It is vitally important to find out what the public think about these sites and that they tell us why they think one would be better than the other.

“All four areas have different attractions and all four are located along the North Coast 500.

“John O’Groats is a tourist destination in its own right and it would make good business sense to have the broch there, to have something extra for the visitors to the village to do.

“All the sites are fairly close to each other on the east coast.

“There are no broch sites in the immediate vicinity in John O’Groats but with regards to Lybster, Keiss and Yarrows – there are brochs very close to them.

“We like that idea of keeping it in context and, looking forward, we want to advertise the Iron Age historic east coast of Caithness.

“It has some amazing sites across there. Keiss has three brochs in the area, there are the Camster Cairns, near to Lybster, as well as the Hill O’ Many Stanes and the Whaligoe steps – an incredible stretch of coastline.

“To have a broch visitor centre there would be a wonderful addition and really complement the area’s heritage.”

McElroy said the Iron Age broch visitor centre would be become a tourist focal point for heritage tourism which would in turn attract visitors to the surrounding brochs.

“The broch would be a catch-all tourist attraction, people would be amazed by it, and so it would drive people to Caithness to visit the broch and from there they could send people to all the other historic sights and gain a bit of fame as well.

Our idea is to create something unmissable.”

The project hopes that recreation of a broch would also boost employment during the construction and long after the building has been completed, and would help to bring back the Caithness drystone dyking trade.