Torwoodlee

Broch (possible), Dun (possible), Fort

Site Name Torwoodlee

Classification Broch (possible), Dun (possible), Fort

Canmore ID 54353

Site Number NT43NE 2

NGR NT 4655 3847

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Caddonfoot
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Selkirkshire

Archaeology Notes

NT43NE 2 4655 3847.

(NT 4655 3847) Fort (NR)

(NT 4652 3844) Broch (NR)

OS 6" map (1971)

Fort and Broch, Torwoodlee: These structures lie on the shoulder of a ridge, over 800 ft O D, and command an extensive view.

The fort has been much mutilated by stone-robbing, surface quarrying and cultivation. It appears to have been an irregular oval in shape, measuring about 450 ft by 350 ft. Along the W side the defences consisted of two ramparts each with an external ditch, and traces of these can be seen continuing round the N side. The S and E sectors of the defences have been destroyed or mutilated beyond recognition. There may have been an original entrance on the E. The interior has been planted with trees and is featureless.

RCAHMS 1957, visited 1950

The broch was cleared out in 1891 (J Curle 1892), at which time a large quantity of Roman pottery and glass was found inside it. It was properly excavated in 1950 (S Piggott 1953), which showed that it had been built partly over the filled-in ditches of the fort.

The site is now somewhat overgrown but the inner and outer wallfaces and the various intramural structures (see plan) can be easily traced. The circular, drystone structure is reduced in height to less than a metre in height all round and measures 23.2 m in overall diameter. The wall is 5.2 m thick so that the diameter of the central court, almost exactly circular, is from 11.9 m to 12.2 m.

A series of post-holes were revealed in the interior, probably indicating that an inner range of timber buildings had been constructed against the wall. The entrance to the broch is on the E side, and there is a door-check in each wall of the passage.

The broch is unusual in being surrounded by a ditch, with a causeway in front of the entrance. Excavation showed this to be V-shaped in section, some 2.7 m wide and 1.6 m deep, and also that it had been delibarately filled with rubble from the broch wall not long after it had been dug, before any silt had accumulated in it. The broch had evidently been systematically destroyed.

E W MacKie 1975

More Roman pottery and glass was found in 1950 beneath the wall of the broch. It was of 1st century date, similar to that found in 1891.

MacKie suggests that the fort was overthrown, and its ditches filled up, during the initial Agricolan campaign in about 80 A D.

The excavation showed that the broch was built soon after the Romans withdrew in about 100 A D, and was thrown down again shortly afterwards, probably by a Roman expedition preparing for the reoccupation of 140 A D.

The many fragments of Roman material found in the broch might be explained as loot from the fort at Newstead (NT53SE 20).

Material from this site is in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

J N G Ritchie and A Ritchie 1972; A S Robertson 1970; J R Allen 1896; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1912

When visited in 1961, this fort and broch were generally as described above. "The broch is a ruin and its wall 5.2 m broad and 0.5 m high, is overgrown. Both outer and inner perimeters are clearly defined. The guard chamber adjacent to the entrance has been almost destroyed, but the stair compartment is still well-defined. The surrounding ditch is shallow and mutilated. Only the N and W defences of the fort are reasonably well-defined.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 16 January 1961

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