A University of Aberdeen archaeologist is to share news of the fascinating Pictish finds from an excavation at Rhynie with the local community.
Dr Gordon Noble, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, will give a public talk at Rhynie School on Thursday (November 22) at 7.30pm where he will explain just how significant the region was during the time of the Picts.
Dr Noble has been part of a team working in the area around the famous Craw Stane for around two years. Their findings have revealed that Rhynie was a key seat of Pictish power and may even have been a royal settlement in the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
He said: “Rhynie has always been noted as somewhere special because of the many Pictish standing stones that come from the village. One in particular, the Craw Stane, is particularly significant as it still stands in its original position.
“We excavated around the Craw Stane and found that it stands at the entrance to a Pictish stronghold with a number of timber buildings inside the fort. The items we uncovered in our excavations revealed that it was a very high status settlement and included finds unique to Pictland.
“We have found pottery imported from the Mediterranean in the 6th century AD. This is highly unusual and it is the first time such items have been discovered in the whole of eastern Britain and the northernmost finds in the world.
“We also uncovered imported fragments of glass from France that were the remains of drinking vessels, along with decorative clothing pins including a unusual axe shaped pin similar to that carried by the Rhynie Man another famous Pictish stone found at the site during the 1970s.”
Some of the artefacts uncovered during the archaeological digs will be on display during the talk and Dr Noble said he was looking forward to sharing the discoveries with the local community.
“We had a lot of people coming along to see the excavation when we’ve been working on site,” he added.
“But because there is so little evidence of the settlement preserved above ground, many local residents may be unaware just how significant this area was for the Picts.
“We’ve found the remains of the ditches and ramparts of the fort. It is fascinating to imagine these high status Picts drinking wine from fine imported glass and pottery in the timber buildings inside the enclosures. It is a very exciting site.”
As part of the event, Dr Noble is keen to hear local opinions on steps that could be taken to make Rhynie’s Pictish heritage more visible.
One suggestion is for a 3D laser-scanned replica of the Rhynie Man to be created and erected in the village. The Rhynie Man is a depiction, over a metre high, of a man carrying an axe, carved on a gabbro slab which may have come from the Rhynie fort.
The slab, itself 1.78m high, was uncovered during ploughing in 1978 at Barflat, just to the south of Rhynie near to where the Craw Stane still stands. Today it stands in the reception area of Woodhill House, the headquarters of Aberdeenshire Council,
Dr Noble added: “We are keen to hear if there would be local interest in doing this or other suggestions for highlighting the importance of Rhynie as a major Pictish settlement and important window on the early kingdoms of Scotland in some way.
“Around 1400 to 1500 years ago this small village would have been a major seat of Pictish power and it would be wonderful to mark it in some way.”
Dr Noble’s talk is at 7.30pm in Rhynie School on Thursday (November 22). Entry is free and booking is not required.
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