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Excavated Scottish ‘power center’ with pottery and ‘game pieces’

Remains of ‘a center of power’ for the ancient Scottish tribe known as the Picts have been discovered in Perthshire, dating back more than 1000 years.

Archaeologists discovered the evidence of a powerful Pictic society that partyed, drank, played games and enjoyed the wealth that was forged by trade relations with Europe.

The Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust team has found evidence at King’s Seat Hillfort of metal and textile production between the 7th and 9th centuries.

They also discovered glass beads and pottery alongside pieces of Roman glass that were recycled and reused as game pieces.

A decorated spindle vertebra that was used in textile production at the King's Seat Hillfort excavation site near Dunkeld

A decorated spindle vertebra that was used in textile production at the King’s Seat Hillfort excavation site near Dunkeld

The King's Seat hill fort sits on a prominent hilltop above a major bend in the River Tay at Dunkeld in Perthshire

The King's Seat hill fort is situated on a prominent hilltop above a major bend in the River Tay at Dunkeld in Perthshire

The King’s Seat hill fort is situated on a prominent hilltop above a major bend in the River Tay at Dunkeld in Perthshire

Confidence said the wealth of finds suggested that the site had been a stronghold of the elite in the local population.

They would “have had an impact on the trade and production of high status goods,” said David Strachan, director of Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust.

‘We have discovered many clues about how people lived and worked, and the remains of a building with a large fireplace at the top, with fragments of glass cups, game pieces, animal bone and horn.

“They paint a lively image of people of high status coming together and partying, decorated with the latest jewelry and decorations of high status.”

Strachan added that melting crucibles, whetstones, stone and clay shapes that were found, indicated that artisanal production took place on the hill fort near Dunkeld.

The Picts were a confederation of Celtic-speaking people who lived in the late British Iron Age and early medieval period in the east and north of Scotland.

Fragments of pottery – the kind made in continental Europe – and Anglo-Saxon glass beads suggested that the Picts acted far away from their center of power.

Spindle wreaths – spherical objects used in textile production – were found alongside evidence of metalwork.

A glass game piece found on the site, suggesting that the Picts lived a life of pleasure and pleasure

A glass game piece found on the site, suggesting that the Picts lived a life of pleasure and pleasure

A glass game piece found on the site, suggesting that the Picts lived a life of pleasure and pleasure

Archaeologists said the artifacts discovered were consistent with other royal sites of high status in early historic Scotland.

This includes other Pictic sites such as the royal center of Dundurn in Perthshire.

“What is particularly interesting is that evidence of this activity has been found in all trenches,” said Cath MacIver, project manager at AOC Archeology, the archaeological contractors of the protected site.

“A lot of iron and other metalworking must have taken place here, making the site an important production center – not just the home of a small group of people who make articles for their own use.”

Archaeologists at Kings Seat Hillfort. For three years, volunteers have joined professional archaeologists to investigate and excavate the site

Archaeologists at Kings Seat Hillfort. For three years, volunteers have joined professional archaeologists to investigate and excavate the site

Archaeologists at Kings Seat Hillfort. For three years, volunteers have joined professional archaeologists to investigate and excavate the site

The Picts have long been regarded as enigmatic savages who ripped off Rome’s legions before mysteriously disappearing from history.

They are described as wild tribesmen who refused to sacrifice their freedom in exchange for the benefits of civilization.

They built a very advanced culture in northern Scotland in the second half of the first millennium AD.

The name first appears in the work of the third-century orator Eumenius and is believed to have come from the Latin word pingere, “to paint,” suggesting that they have painted or tattooed their bodies.

A photo of the Kings Seat in Hillfort. The Picts who occupied this area more than 1,000 years ago were a confederation of Celtic-speaking people who lived in Eastern and Northern Scotland

A photo of the Kings Seat in Hillfort. The Picts who occupied this area more than 1,000 years ago were a confederation of Celtic-speaking people who lived in Eastern and Northern Scotland

A photo of the Kings Seat in Hillfort. The Picts who occupied this area more than 1,000 years ago were a confederation of Celtic-speaking people who lived in Eastern and Northern Scotland

What they called themselves or the language they spoke is unknown, but they were the last people on these islands to trace their origins through their mothers.

The Venerable Bede, an English Benedictine monk, wrote in 731 that the Picts from mainland Europe, presumably Scandinavia, had come to Northern Ireland to request land, but the Irish sent them on to Scotland.

This indicates the myth that the Picts had Irish women, provided they became matrilineal – they followed their family history through their mother’s side.

Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust (PKHT) collaborated with AOC Archeology Ltd and Dunkeld and Birnam Historical Society at the research location.

Although King’s Seat Hillfort has been known for at least the last century and is considered to be nationally important, little is known about its history.

For more than three years, volunteers have joined professional archaeologists as part of the PKHT to investigate and excavate the site.

WHO WERE THE PHOTOS?

The Picts were a collection of tribes that lived in what is today Eastern and Northern Scotland during the late Iron Age and early Medeival periods of around 270-900AD.

They formed a tribal confederation whose political motives stemmed from the need to unite against common enemies such as the British and the Romans.

They have long been seen as fearless savages who fought against the toughest legions of Rome and refused to give up their liberties to live in conventional society.

However, this wild reputation can be unjustified.

They actually built an advanced culture in Northern Scotland and were in many ways more sophisticated than their Anglo-Saxon rivals.

The blue face paint by Mel Gibson in Braveheart (photo) is a nod to the Pictic tradition of body paint

The blue face paint by Mel Gibson in Braveheart (photo) is a nod to the Pictic tradition of body paint

The blue face paint by Mel Gibson in Braveheart (photo) is a nod to the Pictic tradition of body paint

As humans, research has shown that they were sophisticated, hardworking, and competent in many ways.

We increasingly notice that these ‘lost’ peoples – who have somewhat disappeared from history – were capable of great art and built beautiful monasteries.

The Roman name for the people – Picti – means ‘painted people’. It is not known what they called themselves.

The blue face paint from Mel Gibson in Braveheart is a nod to the Pictic tradition of body paint – but the real Picts fought starkly naked, and there are records that they did this until the 5th century.

The habit of fighting naked, especially in the cold Scottish climate, has not damaged the reputation of the tribe for cruelty.

Picts owned the territory north of the Firth of Forth in Scotland – and were one of the reasons why even heavily armored Roman legions could not conquer Scotland.

The Picts mysteriously disappear from written history around 900 AD.

Experts suggest that they probably merged with Southern Scots, which already had a written history at the time, and combined the history of the two clans.

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