Torwood, Tappoch Broch


Site Name Torwood, Tappoch Broch

Classification Broch

Alternative Name(s) The Tappoch

Canmore ID 47004

Site Number NS88SW 1

NGR NS 83335 84986

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Falkirk
  • Parish Dunipace
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Falkirk
  • Former County Stirlingshire

Archaeology Notes

NS88SW 1 83335 84986

See also NS88SW 49.

(NS 83335 84986) Tappoch (NAT) Broch (NR)

OS 6" map (1967)

Broch, The Tappoch, Tor Wood: This feature which occupies a typical position for a Lowland broch, was excavated in 1864 (J Dundas 1868). Prior to the excavation it appeared simply as a mound. The excavators, who considered it was simply a chamber sunk in a natural knoll, removed a mass of boulders and debris, estimated to weigh over 200 tons, exposing the inner wall-faces, and an inclined floor formed by the natural rock, and opened the entrance passage, stair-lobby and stair. On the floor they found a central hearth and a number of relics described below. No attempt was made to find the outer wall-face, which is now almost totally hidden by earth and debris. Portions which appear on W, NW, and N give wall thicknesses of from 17' - 24'. These are not at ground level, but slightly above the scarcement; the ground level thickness, as measured along the entrance passage, is 20'6". The entrance is in the SE and is 2'7" wide. It is today approached by a sunken pathway through the debris surrounding the outside of the broch, and the stonework and kerbing along the sides of this path probably represent revetments inserted in 1864 to retain the debris. The entrance has door-checks and a bar-hole.

The interior is irregularly circular. The rock floor found by the excavators is covered with debris, earth, and vegetation. The wall-face contains numerous small recesses about 1' or less in height and breadth, and from 1' - 3' in depth. Their purpose is obscure, and the excavators reported that nothing was found in them "except some white clay peculiar to Torwood". Their number is difficult to calculate, as in some places rather similar cavities have resulted from dislodgement of facing stones, but at least 13 may be regarded as constructional features.

A stair-lobby and stair occur in the thickness of the wall. Eight steps now remain.

To N, E, and S the broch is encircled by two wasted concentric banks, the ends of which were evidently designed to rest on the brink of the rock-slopes to the W. They were examined in 1948-9 (D M Hunter 1949) and found to represent the ruins of rubble-cored, boulder-faced walls. The inner bank now rises to 6'6", and the outer one to 3'. Gaps occur in both banks in line with the broch entrance. The "third wall" mentioned in 1864 as "extending along the face of the cliff," can be identified with some fragmentary footings seen about 40 yds S of the SW end of the outer enclosing wall. The lip of the slope dips somewhat at this point, and the slope is less steep to N and S; a wall may have been built across the dip to make access more difficult.

Finds made during the excavations include three boulders carved with cup and ring marks, saddle and rotary querns, three hollowed pebbles, one of which resembles a crude version of a stone "lamp" of the type found at West Plean homestead (NS88NW 5), stone balls, whorls, sherds of coarse pottery, and two sherds of finer ware which may be medieval, also two sherds of Early Iron Age native ware, etc. No Roman relics were recorded. Some of the finds are in the NMAS, and others in Falkirk Burgh Museum.

RCAHMS 1963, visited 1953

The broch is generally as described and planned. The outworks are now covered by afforestation and the third bank could not be located. A slab, 13.0cm in diameter, sculptured with three concentric rings, may be seen five stones into the stair lobby from the inner face of the broch.

Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (DWR) 31 January 1974

Traces of what appeared to be an intra-mural chamber were observed on the wallhead on the NE side, and a small scale investigation was carried out in the spring of 1964. The built end of a long chamber about 3' deep was found on the wallhead, appearing to run towards the main entrance at a height which would bring it out above the level of the lintels there. It was surmised that this was a secondary structure, possibly recent, inserted after the broch was in ruins.

E W MacKie 1964

There is a complex carving on a recumbent stone slab at the end of the entrance passage, immediately inside the broch. The carving is of a bar, 19cm long, 9cm wide at one end, and a figure of eight at the other.

N Aitchison 1978

Small lump of vitrified stone from inner concentric bank on N side of broch. A small piece of daub was also found between the inner and outer concentric banks on N side of broch.

N Aitchison 1979.



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