The area at Thirlings where the cropmarks had been identified was excavated between 1973 and 1981 under the scientific direction of Roger Miket and Colm O’Brien.

The foundations of 12 buildings were dug and documented in the site. The consistency of their architectural typologies indicates that they most probably belonged to a single settlement. The early medieval chronology of this settlement seems confirmed by radiocarbon dates, which suggest that the buildings were constructed and demolished between the 6th and the 7th centuries CE. 6 of the 12 excavated buildings (Buildings A, B, C, L, N, and P) had a perimeter defined by continuous trenches that accommodated vertical timbers. In the 6 remaining buildings (F, E, G, H, I, R), timbers were not placed within a trench, but directly in the soil. All the continuous trench structures were consistently oriented East-West, and two of them (Buildings A and P) were each surrounded by a palisade. The orientation of the 6 individually founded posts buildings, which are concentrated in the western part of the excavated area, appears much more inconsistent instead.

Based on the comparison with other sites, a series of non-excavated traces to the north and south of the dig in Thirlings were interpreted as possible early medieval grubenhäuser, i.e. small-scale sunken-featured buildings. If this is the case, and if the structures were all constructed as part of a single group, the settlement would be much more extended than scholars initially expected.