MHG2043 - Thrumster Mains Broch


A broch at Thrumster, excavated and cleared in several events from the late C18 onwards and subsequently landscaped as an ornamental garden.

Type and Period (1)

  • BROCH (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Broch (NR) (remains of) OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)
(See ND34NW 20.2)

Broch, Thrumster: This broch has had remains of its structure cleared out and a portion of wall to S removed - in which place are the ruins of a summer-house. The interior diameter is 36ft and the wall is 15ft thick at base. When excavated a skeleton was found buried in a cist of slabs in mound heaped against outside of the fabric. Also believed to have been found was a long- handled weaving comb presented to the NMAS in 1783 by Mr Innes of Thrumster (Acc No: GA 66). <1>

This broch has diameter of 20m over walls 4.3m thick. Turf-topped wall is in fair condition except on S where a portion has been removed entirely to accommodate a modern building and here and there outer and inner wall faces are crumbling. The wall has a max external height of 1.5m on W side and an average internal height of 1.2m. Interior of broch has been cleared out. The entrance was probably on S.
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (W D J) 22 April 1963.

No change. Visited by OS (J B) 19 August 1982.

This broch lies at the N end of a broad flat-topped ridge about 190m ESE of Thrumster Mains. It measures 11.1m in diameter within a wall 3.8m in thickness and still standing up to 1.4m in height in eight courses. The inner and outer faces of the wall remain largely intact, except on the S, where the wall has been completely removed to provide the building material for a gothic-style summer house (ND34NW 20.02) inserted at this point. The entrance was probably on the S, opening out onto the ridge.
(YARROWS04 424)
Visited by RCAHMS (ARG) 29 July 2004.

ND34 10 Thrumster (‘Thrumster Mains’)
ND3319 4505 (visited in 1971 & 1987)
Probable solid-based broch in Wick, Caithness, which was cleared out some time before 1910 – possibly at the end of the 18th century judging from the comb (below) – and had part of the wall on the south side removed to accommodate a summerhouse (Illus t.88). The greatest wall height remaining is 1.7 m (3ft 6in) and it is now turfed over and fairly secure [1]. During the clearance a cist containing a skeleton was found in the rubbish piled against the wallface. A long-handled weaving comb, presented to the National Museum in 1783 by Mr Innes of Thrumster (GA 66), is believed to have come from this site [2] (Illus 7.33). Dimensions: interior diameter 10.98m (36 ft), the wall 4.48m (15ft) thick at the base. In 1987 a new survey of the central court showed that this had been laid out close to an exact circle with a radius of 6.13 ± 0.04m, giving a diameter of 12.2m (40.2ft), somewhat larger than earlier measurements suggested. Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 34 NW 1: 2. RCAHMS 1911b, 145, no. 502: 3. Batey 2002, 188. <2>

Investigations at Thrumster broch, including topographic survey and excavation, were carried out by AOC Archaeology Group and community members in July 2011 on behalf of the Yarrows Heritage Trust as part of a project to investigate brochs excavated by Tress Barry and others. The investigations revealed that well preserved deposits were still intact in places and that the structure was more complex than previously thought. The roundhouse had gone through several phases of modification and rebuilding, with radiocarbon dating indicating that these phases occurred through the later first millenium BC and earlier first millenium AD. A sizeable artefact assemblage was recovered, and human remains were among the bone assemblage. The report also includes a researched history of the site. <3>

For the 2011 'dig diary' blog see the project web pages, linked below. <4>

The Broch was Scheduled by Historic Environment Scotland in 2017. <5>

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred ND 3319 4505 (23m by 21m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND34NW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (2)

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Undated)
  • WEAVING COMB (Iron Age - 550 BC to 560 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (3)

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