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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 644199

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NS83SE 16 8646 3099

At the base of the NE flank of Parkhead Hill and at the confluence of the Byrecleuch Burn and Parkhall Burn, there is a group of ruinous stone buildings with lime mortar showing through the grassy banks which cover the site.

The approximate alignments of the walls are traceable by stones protruding from the grassy banks which vary in height from 0.5m to 2m. Three buildings can be traced. The best indication for date comes from at least seven stones found incorporated into the adjacent sheepfold to the S of the ruin. These all 'roll moulded' shaped blocks of creamy sandstone which has come from a doorway. Squared blocks of tooled sandstone have been used to form the entrance into the sheepfold and other blocks are built into the drystane wall. The implication of this is that there is at least one building on the site which dates to the late 16th or early 17th century. Such a building can only have been a tower house or as is more likely in the context of the other buildings here, a bastle house. The main building here has had a fine entrance and the quoins have been dressed ashlar.

A track leads away from the site to the N and runs through an enclosure system of eroded turf banks.

The site is shown on Charles Ross map of the Douglas Estates, dated 1769, the place is given as Thorril Castle, and on Forrest's map as 'castle in ruins'. Also referred to in New Statistical Account (NSA 1845), as "the vestiges of a fort near the great road to England". The writer there suggests the name is derived from Thirwell Castle. This is considered here to be mistaken. The Douglases of parkhead nearby were also lairds of Torthorwald Castle near Dumfries. TRhis seems to be the more likely explanation for the name Thorril.

The place is a small defended farm and some of the buildings will be byres as is suggested in the name Byrecleuch. The choice of site has not been made for convenience and suggests an element of seclusion seems to have been desired by the owner. The 'great road to England' which was above the site to the W certainly did not exist when Thorril was built, although all the farm lands of this place are in that area and can still be traced by the old turf field boundaries.

W Forrest 1816; New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845; T Ward 1992.

Site recorded during an archaeological evaluation conducted on 30 alternative route elements, with a combined length of c84km, for a proposed road linking the M8 near Whitburn, Lothian Region with the M6/M74 near Douglas, Clydesdale District.

'Thorril Castle' An illustrated report will be deposited with the NMRS.

Sponsor: Roads Directorate of The Scottish Office Industry Department, managed on its behalf by Historic Scotland.

A J Dunwell and R J Strachan 1995.

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