Pictish fort reveals surprising archaeological treasures

Related Articles

Related Articles

A Pictish fort thought to have been largely destroyed by 19th century development has yielded surprising treasures including an 1100 year old Anglo Saxon coin and the remnants of a Pictish building.

The University of Aberdeen archaeologists overseeing the dig at Burghead Fort near Lossiemouth in Moray say the site may yet reveal more significant findings.

The Picts lived in eastern and northern Scotland during the late Iron Age and early medieval periods. Experts believe Burghead Fort near Lossiemouth, Moray, was a significant seat of power within the Pictish Kingdom, dating between 500AD and 1000AD. Notable Pictish artefacts including the Burghead Bull carvings and a mysterious underground well were discovered in the 1800s, but it has long been suspected most of the Pictish remains were destroyed when a new town was built on top of the fort at this time.

Burghead – Image Credit : University of Aberdeen

However, the University of Aberdeen started a dig at Burghead in 2015 which is starting to uncover further important clues about the Picts.

The team uncovered a Pictish longhouse within the fort. Very little is known about Pictish architecture so this finding could provide vital clues as to the character of Pictish domestic architecture and the nature of activity at major forts such as Burghead.


Subscribe to more articles like this by following our Google Discovery feed - Click the follow button on your desktop or the star button on mobile. Subscribe

Within the floor layers of the building, an Anglo Saxon coin of Alfred the Great was discovered providing key dating evidence for the use of the house and fort. The coin dates to the late ninth century when Viking raiders and settlers were leading to major changes within Pictish society.

Dr Gordon Noble, Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The assumption has always been that there was nothing left at Burghead; that it was all trashed in the 19th century but nobody’s really looked at the interior to see if there’s anything that survives inside the fort.

Burghead – Image Credit : University of Aberdeen

“But beneath the 19th century debris, we have started to find significant Pictish remains. We appear to have found a Pictish longhouse. This is important because Burghead is likely to have been one of the key royal centres of Northern Pictland and understanding the nature of settlement within the fort is key to understanding how power was materialised within these important fortified sites.

“There is a lovely stone-built hearth in one end of the building and the Anglo-Saxon coin shows the building dates towards the end of the use of the fort based on previous dating. The coin is also interesting as it shows that the fort occupants were able to tap into long-distance trade networks. The coin is also pierced, perhaps for wearing; it shows that the occupants of the fort in this non-monetary economy literally wore their wealth.

“Overall these findings suggest that there is still valuable information that can be recovered from Burghead which would tell us more about this society at a significant time for northern Scotland – just as Norse settlers were consolidating their power in Shetland and Orkney and launching attacks on mainland Scotland.”

Burghead – Image Credit : University of Aberdeen

The dig has been carried out in conjunction with the Burghead Headland Trust and with support from Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service.

Bruce Mann, archaeologist for Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service, added: “Burghead Fort has long been recognised as being an important seat of power during the Early Medieval period, and is known as the largest fort of its type in Scotland. Its significance has just increased again though with this discovery. The fact that we have surviving buildings and floor levels from this date is just incredible, and the universities’ work is shedding light on what is too often mistakenly called the ‘Dark Ages’.”

University of Aberdeen

- Advertisement -

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Pella – Birthplace of Alexander The Great

Pella is an archaeological site and the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon.

New Argentine fossils uncover history of celebrated conifer group

Newly unearthed, surprisingly well-preserved conifer fossils from Patagonia, Argentina, show that an endangered and celebrated group of tropical West Pacific trees has roots in the ancient supercontinent that once comprised Australia, Antarctica and South America, according to an international team of researchers.

High-tech CT reveals ancient evolutionary adaptation of extinct crocodylomorphs

The tree of life is rich in examples of species that changed from living in water to a land-based existence.

Fish fossils become buried treasure

Rare metals crucial to green industries turn out to have a surprising origin. Ancient global climate change and certain kinds of undersea geology drove fish populations to specific locations.

Archaeologists Discover Viking Toilet in Denmark

Archaeologists excavating a settlement on the Stevns Peninsula in Denmark suggests they have discovered a toilet from the Viking Age.

Innovation by ancient farmers adds to biodiversity of the Amazon, study shows

Innovation by ancient farmers to improve soil fertility continues to have an impact on the biodiversity of the Amazon, a major new study shows.

Lost Shiva Temple Buried in Sand Discovered by Local Villagers

Villagers from the Perumallapadu village in the Pradesh’s Nellore district of India have unearthed the 300-year-old Temple of Nageswara Swamy on the banks of the Penna River.

Ma’rib – Capital of the Kingdom of Saba

Ma'rib is an archaeological site and former capital of the ancient kingdom of Saba in modern-day Ma'rib in Yemen

Giant Egg Discovered in Antarctica Belonged to Marine Reptile

A large fossil discovered in Antarctica by Chilean researchers in 2011 has been found to be a giant, soft-shell egg from 66 million years ago.

Archaeologists Find Evidence of Incest Among Irelands Early Elite at Newgrange Passage Tomb

Archaeologists working with Geneticists from the Trinity College Dublin have determined that a burial in the Newgrange passage tomb shows indications of first-degree incest.

Popular stories