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Thing's Va

Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Site Name Thing's Va

Classification Broch (Iron Age)(Possible)

Canmore ID 7778

Site Number ND06NE 1

NGR ND 0808 6824

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Thurso
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Caithness
  • Former County Caithness

Archaeology Notes

ND06NW 1 0808 6824.

(ND 0808 6824) Thing's Va (NAT) Broch (NR)

OS 6" map, (1969)

A broch, partly excavated, on the centre of a mound 110ft in diameter, which is cut off from the higher level to the N by a ditch 30ft wide, 8ft deep below the top of the scarp and about 4ft below the top of a bank on the counter-scarp.

The broch stands 18 to 20ft from the edge of the ditch, and measures 30ft internally and probably 60ft externally (judging by the given length of the passage, 15ft). The external wall has not been cleared but the internal wall is exposed at several points. The unroofed passage in the SE has walls standing to a maximum height of 4ft and two sets of door-checks, between which, on the right, is the apparent entrance to a guard chamber, the inner edge of which is visible although neither passage nor chamber has been cleared. The inner left wall of the passage is concealed by a secondary wall which curves to the right into the interior of the broch, and another secondary wall is visible 9ft to the left of it in the uncleared interior.

The name 'Thing's Va' is a corruption of 'Thing-vollr', Norse for a local court or assembly.

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910.

The remains of a broch as described by the RCAHMS. A small cell at a higher level on the left inside the entrance has been exposed by excavation. A slight bank which runs off to the W from the outer defensive bank, a small oval mound on the NE end of the bank and another oval mound to the SE of it, are not necessarily coeval with the broch.

Re-surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (R D) 25 February 1965.

'Thing's Va', a turf-covered broch partially exposed in old excavation trenches, is generally as described by the previous authorities. The 'small cell' noted by previous OS field investigator is the entrance to a guard-cell totally obscured by tumble; and the ancillary features described form no logical association with the broch, so may be later.

Revised at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 24 August 1981.

A grass-covered stoney mound 45 by 42m by 4m high, enclosed by a bank, 60m by 55m.

R J Mercer 1981.

ND 065 680 (centre) An archaeological desk-based study was undertaken in September 1994 as part of the environmental assessment for a planned windfarm development. The study was designed to identify and evaluate any archaeological monuments present, through the examination of documentary, cartographic and aerial photographic sources. The study area covered approximately 10.5 sq km. Previous systematic fieldwork covering the majority of the proposed development area was led by Mr R J Mercer between 1980-3. Sites located within the study area comprised: two brochs, seven longhouses, 12 lengths of wall, four enclosures, ten structures, a windmill, two cairns, a cist, a burnt mound, ten mounds, two field systems and two areas of rig-and-furrow. No new sites or monuments were located as part of the current study.

A detailed report is lodged with the NMRS.

Sponsor: EcoGen Limited.

R J Strachan 1995.


Publication Account (2007)

ND06 11 THING'S VA ND/0808 6824 (visited 9/7/63)

This partly excavated probable broch is in Thurso parish, Caithness, and is typical of those on the Caithness plain, standing as it does on gently rolling terrain and on an artificial platform – a wide, flat mound surrounded by a ditch and with an outer rampart beyond it. In 1910 limited excavation had left exposed the entrance on the south-east and this is about 4.58m (15ft) long and 1.07m (3.5ft) wide at the exterior; there are door-checks, formed of slabs set at right angles into the walls, 1.17m (3ft 10in) in. Thereafter the passage is 1.30m (4ft 3in) wide. There are signs of the doorway to a guard cell on the right behind the checks, and of a second set of checks 2.44m (8ft) in from the first set. The inner wallface is visible in places, indicating an internal diameter of about 9.15m (30ft), and there are signs of a secondary wall built against it to the left of the entrance [2]. Traces of a guard cell on the left of the entrance passage have been seen [1].

A recent survey showed that most of the features described by the Commission are not now visible [3] but in 1963 there were still traces of part of the interior wallface with what may be a radial wall projecting from it. The name of the site derives from the Norse Thing-vollr – a local assembly or law court.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. ND 06 NE 1: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 119, no. 432: 3. Mercer 1981, 150, no. 461 and fig. 34.

E W MacKie 2007

Project (15 August 2017 - 18 August 2017)

ND 3102 3949, ND 0808 6824 (ND33NW 1, ND06NE 1) A fluxgate gradiometer survey and an earth resistance survey were carried out on two broch sites from 15–18 August 2017. The first site was at Bruan Broch, N of Lybster, and the second site at Thing’s Va, c2km W of Thurso. The survey formed part of the Caithness Broch Festival Archaeology Programme, which aims to provide the opportunity for the local community and visitors to the county to engage

with their local archaeology, whilst conducting significant archaeological research. The results of the geophysical survey provide a basis for subsequent archaeological fieldwalking and test-pitting at both sites from 13–16 October 2017.

At Bruan, c1ha of magnetometry survey was carried out around the broch, with subsequent targeted earth resistance survey over areas of potential interest. The magnetometry survey revealed the presence of several areas of interest, in particular possible settlement and buildings to the S of the broch. Several other possible structures were identified adjacent to this, which may be related. An area of increased magnetic response was revealed across the W area of the survey, while a cluster of features of possible archaeological origin was located c20m S of the A99 road. In the E of the survey area, the results showed less general enhancement, although a large anomaly may relate to the ditch around the broch. Rig and furrow cultivation remains were apparent

here. The targeted earth resistance survey results appear to correlate with the magnetic survey showing the presence of a possible structure to the S of the broch. Trial-trenching focused on the possible settlement areas to the S of the broch and all trenches revealed possible prehistoric structures and field soils containing post-medieval pottery.

At Thing’s Va, c1ha of gradiometer survey was carried out around the broch, again with subsequent targeted earth resistance survey over areas of potential interest. A further small area of magnetometry survey was carried out over a cairn in a field to the SE of the broch. The field was under crop at the time, with the cairn uncultivated. Within the scheduled area of the broch, the magnetometry survey showed the line of the extant bank as well as some indication of another extant earthwork on its SW side. An area of strong response was visible on the NE side, perhaps indicative of a burnt mound. Two possible structures were identified to the NE of the broch. The targeted earth resistance survey focused on an area to the NE of the broch. The results echoed those

from the magnetometry survey in showing the presence of the possible burnt mound, and suggestions of other possible structural remains in the E of the survey area. The results of gradiometer survey carried out over the nearby cairn suggests that this is likely to be a settlement site or a possible burnt mound. Two trial trenches to the E of the broch revealed no features of archaeological significance, while the third trench opened up over the adjacent cairn showed a possible structure of possible prehistoric date. Both broch sites would benefit from larger scale trenches to place the identified features into a wider context.

Archive: NRHE and Orkney SMR

Funder: Caithness Broch Project

Amanda Brend – ORCA and Archaeology Institute, UHI

(Source: DES, Volume 18)

Magnetometry (15 August 2017 - 18 August 2017)

ND 3102 3949, ND 0808 6824 (ND33NW 1, ND06NE 1) Magnetometry survey.

Archive: NRHE and Orkney SMR

Funder: Caithness Broch Project

Amanda Brend – ORCA and Archaeology Institute, UHI

(Source: DES, Volume 18)

Resistivity (15 August 2017 - 18 August 2017)

ND 3102 3949, ND 0808 6824 (ND33NW 1, ND06NE 1) Resistivity survey.

Archive: NRHE and Orkney SMR

Funder: Caithness Broch Project

Amanda Brend – ORCA and Archaeology Institute, UHI

(Source: DES, Volume 18)

Magnetometry (14 March 2018 - 15 March 2018)

ND 08079 68240 A fluxgate gradiometer survey was carried out, 14 – 15 March 2018, as part of the Caithness Broch Festival, a year-long programme of heritage and archaeology projects, focusing on exploring the broch sites of Caithness.

The work aimed to complete a circuit of geophysical survey around the broch in order to establish the presence/ absence of an extra-mural settlement or any other potential archaeological remains associated with the broch. While the survey provided some indication of anthropogenic activity within the immediate vicinity of the broch, the nature of this could not be fully established, and it provided no evidence for the existence of an extra-mural settlement, as the majority of the survey area was relatively ‘quiet’. The survey also aimed to further characterise the adjacent cairn, establish its full extent and any potential relationship with the broch. The results suggested that potential associated remains identified previously to the E of the cairn, are more extensive than was understood, and also indicated that substantial structural remains may be present. No relationship to the broch was established.

Archive: NRHE

Funder: Caithness Broch Project

Linda Somerville – Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA)

(Source: DES Volume 19)


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