Emerging Early Medieval Kingdoms in northern Scotland

New Fieldwork Approaches to the Emergence of Early Medieval Kingdoms in Northern Scotland

This PhD project aimed to:

  • establish a chronology and model for the development of centres of power in north-east Scotland in the first millennium BC and AD
  • identify and characterise architecture of defended settlements, such as hill and promontory forts
  • explore political organisation of elite prior to and during formation of named early medieval kingdoms emerging in northern Scotland from around the 6th century AD
  • dovetail with a new initiative in the archaeology department on the Northern Picts
  • track social and political trajectories that led to the rise and ultimate fall of the Picts as a major power player in Europe in the first millennium AD

Fortriu - Candice HatherleyRegularly cited in historical sources. The early medieval Kingdom of Fortriu was potentially the most powerful Pictish Kingdom. Recent work by Alex Woolf located Fortriu to the Moray Firth area, suggesting that northern Pictland was a major player in the political stage in the first millennium AD.

Very little work has been undertaken on the organisation of the landscape and the identification of high status settlements in this area preceding and contemporary with the Kingdom of Fortriu. This project aimed to:

  • use a variety of invasive and non-invasive archaeological techniques
  • conduct archaeological geophysics and excavation
  • investigate form and date of a number of key enclosed sites
  • identify emerging elite social groups through their settlements and surviving material culture
  • focus on the Moray Firth region, site of a major Pictish monastery Portmahomack
  • investigate the key Pictish power centre at Burghead promontory fort