A new paper published by Cambridge University Press , presents evidence of a “heroic warrior ethos” that had spread across Northern Europe during the first millennium AD. The researchers say that while evidence from burials of later prehistoric to early medieval dates are exceptionally limited, a recently discovered carved monolith depicting a warrior with weapons reveals a “martial ideology and warrior ethos” in late Roman and post-Roman Europe. Powerful Pictish stones are slowly revealing their secrets.
Very few Iron Age and early medieval burials have been found complete with weaponry in northern Britain, but the researchers say the newly discovered Tulloch Stone expresses “materialisations of a martial ideology.”
Found in September 2017 by workmen upgrading the A85/A9 junction outside Perth in central Scotland, a Scotsman article detailed the recovery of the large Pictish carved stone which is decorated with a “big nosed warrior” holding a spear and a club; which Mark Hall, of Perth Museum & Art Gallery, said was a type of Pictish carving that “had not seen before in the area.”
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The Collessie stone: warrior ﬁgure (right) and symbol on adjacent face (left). (© Historic Environment Scotland, images DP 027894 and DP 027896)
Photogrammetry and 3D Imaging an Ancient Warrior
The warrior depicted on the Tulloch Stone appears to be wearing a cloak and shoes with a pronounced shaven front scalp, which suggests he was a powerful local noble. The stone was probably warning travelers that they were entering his territory.
The Tulloch stone: a) photogrammetric image; b) hillshade model; c) interpretation. (University of Aberdeen / Antiquity Pubications Ltd )
Now, the new team of researchers say the Tulloch figure not only “dramatically adds” to the corpus of first-millennium AD representational art from Scotland, but that it also reveals a lot about the regionally specific deployment of a warrior ethos in late Roman and post-Roman Europe.
Weighing approximately one ton, the oblong stone measures 1.94 meters (6.36 ft.) in height and 0.70 meters (2.30 ft.) in width. The 1.02 meter (3.35 ft.) tall damaged carving has been subjected to photogrammetry and 3D imaging, revealing a spear with a kite-shaped blade and a doorknob-style butt. What’s more, a series of faint lines were detected at the ankles suggesting the warrior is wearing tight leggings, the scientists wrote.
Royal Centers Marked by Pictish Stones
The discovery of the Tulloch stone carved warrior, according to the researchers, “brings into new relief” (which just has to be a deliberate pun) similar stones depicting weapon-bearing figures from elsewhere in eastern and northern Scotland.
One example is the incised figure on the Rhynie Stone in Aberdeenshire, which according to Canmore is a 1.35 meter (4.43 ft.) high block of whinstone depicting a human figure around 0.78 meters (2.56 ft.) in height carrying a shield; and just like the Tulloch Stone, “a spear with a doorknob-shaped butt.”
Rhynie stone (3): a) ﬂash photography (© Michael Sharpe); b) hillshade model; c) interpretation. (University of Aberdeen / Antiquity Pubications Ltd )
While there is limited evidence for what the Tulloch stone meant or represented within its original landscape , the researchers say the other similar examples like the Rhynie Stone are useful guides. The Rhynie stone, described above, was found in the 19th century near a stone burial cairn which dated to between the 5th to 7th centuries AD.
200 meters (656.17 ft.) to the south of the cairn two large square enclosures were excavated in 2013 by the Rhynie Environs Archaeological Project ( REAP). Within two adjacent square barrows the partial remains of a skeleton were discovered, and the archaeologists said these enclosures were “high-status Pictish sites.” What’s more, the site was an “early royal centre.”
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The Collessie stone: a) photogrammetric image; b) slope model; c) interpretation. (University of Aberdeen / Antiquity Pubications Ltd )
Detailing an Elite and Royal Warrior Class
Similarly, the Tulloch Stone was found at a location overlooking the final stretch of the River Almond, which was a later Pictish ‘royal centre’ thought to have been the legendary Rathinveramon, where King Domnall mac Ailpín, King of the Picts , died in 862 AD. Furthermore, across the River Tay, Scone Abbey and Palace was the royal coronation site of the medieval kingdom of Alba and later Scotland.
In conclusion, the scientists say their study of the carved figures on the stone discovered in 2017 in the north-east of Scotland can be viewed as part of a broader European phenomenon most commonly identified through the practice of depositing weapons with the dead , wrote the researchers.
King Domnall mac Ailpín.
Also, it seems that clearly defined “martial values” were amplified in stone monuments in a very public fashion and they seem to have been associated with important burial sites of the Pictish elites , revealing a volume of new data about an ancient “warrior ethos” and of its regional deployment in late Roman and post-Roman Europe.
The full report, ‘Warrior ideologies in first-millennium AD Europe: new light on monumental warrior stelae from Scotland’ is published by Antiquity Publications Ltd, DOI: https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2019.214
The problem with the Picts
The Picts are a fascinating but archaeologically elusive people who thrived in parts of Scotland in the 4th to 10th centuries AD. What has recent research added to this often obscure picture? Gordon Noble reports.
The Picts are a ‘lost people of Europe’ who continue to be a subject of enduring public fascination. First mentioned in late Roman sources as a collective name for troublesome, barbaric peoples living north of the Roman frontier, the Picts went on to dominate a large part of Scotland until the late 1st millennium AD. The emergence of the Pictish over-kingdom, the precursor of the kingdom of the Scots, was part of broader changes in northern Europe that laid the foundations for the modern states of Europe. Other than their enigmatic symbol stones, though, the archaeological and historical record for this region in c.AD 300-900 is diffuse and difficult – famously dubbed the ‘Problem of the Picts’.
The main Pictish powerbases were long-assumed to lie in central Scotland, but, in a seminal work of 2006, historian Alex Woolf located Fortriu – the most-cited and most-powerful Pictish kingdom – further north in the Moray Firth region. Further research has shed more light on this: in 2012, the Northern Picts Project was established at the University of Aberdeen to investigate an area stretching from Aberdeenshire to Easter Ross, covering the probable extent of Fortriu and a territory of Pictland known as Ce. Funded by a donation to the University of Aberdeen Development Trust, we have taken up the challenge of finding new archaeological features in a period with few identified sites, either in the written sources or the material record.
This unprecedented focus on the Picts was enhanced in 2017 by the Comparative Kingship project (funded by the Leverhulme Trust), and to-date the University of Aberdeen has investigated a whole series of Pictish sites in northern Scotland through large-scale excavation, survey, and targeted fieldwork. There have been some spectacular successes, not least the (re)discovery of a Pictish-period silver hoard at Gaulcross, Aberdeenshire, led by Aberdeen and the National Museum Scotland. In this article we will focus on two key elements: Pictish symbol stones and power centres.
Symbol stones are perhaps the most-celebrated element of Pictish archaeology. There are more than 200 stone monuments with symbols known from eastern and northern Scotland, and repeated attempts to decipher their meaning have been made since the 19th century. Current consensus is that this was a system that expressed names or identities of some kind, and that it was an elite form of expression found in both settlement and burial situations providing better contexts and dating for this tradition has been a key aspect of our work.
From 2015 to 2017, the Northern Picts Project’s fieldwork targeted Dunnicaer, a towering sea stack just to the south of Aberdeen, where a series of Pictish stones were found in the 19th century. It has been suggested that their relatively simple designs (also seen in other contexts, including caves) might represent the earliest examples of the symbol system, but there has been little in the way of absolute dating.
The first stones were discovered during the gathering of building material at the site, and more examples were identified in 1832 when a group of youths found a low stone wall on the stack and threw a number of its stones into the sea. Since then, few people have visited Dunnicaer, as the site is cut off at high tide and surrounded by sheer cliff-faces – but, with the support of a professional climber, the Northern Picts team carried out three seasons
of (rather intrepid) fieldwork on the stack. This work revealed the remains of a promontory fort, with a timber-laced rampart enclosing a series of buildings (see CA 304 and 307). Much of the settlement had been lost to severe coastal erosion, but it still yielded an exciting range of finds, including Roman pottery and glass – rare imports this far north of the frontier – along with burnishing stones for metalworking.
Even more surprisingly, radio- carbon dating of samples from the fort suggests that its use began c.AD 105-225 and ended c.AD 350-450. Fort-building is rarely attested in the Roman Iron Age in Scotland, but Dunnicaer clearly flourished at this time, reaching its height in the same period as the first Roman reference tothe Picts (AD 297). While it remains impossible to directly date the symbol stones, the youths of 1832 described finding them in a wall surrounding the site, and the rampart around the southern edge of the stack which best fits that description was constructed c.AD 245-380. If the symbol stones are from this timeframe, they are much earlier than many scholars had countenanced for this tradition.
EXCAVATIONS AT ‘ROYAL’ RHYNIE
Another key focus of our project has been the Aberdeenshire village of Rhynie. Its name includes a form of the Celtic word for ‘king’, *rīg, and our work at the site suggests the surrounding valley was an elite Pictish centre from the 4th to 6th centuries AD (see CA 289). Rhynie has long been known for its notable concentration of Class I Pictish stones, and in March 1978 a particularly spectacular example was ploughed up by a local farmer at Barflat farm, just to the south of the modern village. Known as ‘Rhynie Man’, it depicts a bearded figure – possibly a pagan deity – carrying a distinctive axe that may be associated with animal sacrifice.
The field where Rhynie Man was found is home to another Pictish stone, the Craw Stane, which still stands in situ. In 1978, council archaeologist Ian Shepherd captured aerial photographs showing a series of enclosures surrounding the monument, and more than three decades later our project returned to the site to explore these features. Between 2011 and 2017, excavations by the universities of Aberdeen and Chester established that the Craw Stane stood towards the entranceway of the enclosure complex which, in an early phase, comprised ditches (and presumably banks) surrounding a low glacial knoll. A later phase saw the construction of an elaborate timber wall of oak posts and planks, inside which we found the footprints of a series of buildings and a rich array of finds hinting at a community with far-reaching connections.
As well as sherds of Late Roman wine amphorae imported from the eastern Mediterranean, there were fragments of glass drinking beakers from France, and one of the largest assemblages of metalworking production evidence known from early medieval Britain – from moulds and crucibles for making pins, to brooches and even tiny animal figurines that resemble the animals carved on Pictish stones. One of the most-remarkable finds was an iron pin shaped like the axe carried by Rhynie Man – tangible links between objects from the site and the iconography of the stones.
A few hundred metres to the north, where another of Rhynie’s carved stones (depicting a warrior) is recorded to have been recovered from a cairn, we have also found traces of a contemporary barrow cemetery. One of these mounds contained the partially preserved remains of a woman, and it is thought that two square enclosures located nearby may have been shrines or places for conducting ceremonies associated with veneration of the dead.
And what of the bigger picture? For the last three years, the University of Aberdeen has been exploring the wider environs of the Rhynie valley (funded by Historic Environment Scotland), with a particular focus on three hillforts overlooking the Barflat farm enclosure complex and cemetery: Cnoc Cailliche, Cairnmore, and Tap O’Noth. At Cnoc Cailliche, investigations revealed that this small (0.11ha) fort was constructed and inhabited c.400-200 BC, but occupation at the other two sites coincides with the Barflat complex’s use. Take, for example, Cairnmore: it is another small site (the innermost of its two stone enclosing walls surrounds c.0.2ha) where, ten years ago, an evaluation by Murray Cook suggested it had been occupied c.AD 410-630. Our excavations have now confirmed that dating – but we also revealed evidence for internal buildings, a large palisade at the edge of the inner bank, and occupation spanning the 4th to 7 th centuries AD, directly overlapping with life at the Barflat site.
In contrast to its compact neighbours, Tap O’Noth is one of the most-spectacular forts in Scotland. The oblong hillfort that crowns its summit is the second highest in Scotland, and one of the best examples of a vitrified (heavily burnt) site of this kind. Moreover, the massive 16.75ha enclosure that surrounds it, scattered with hundreds of hut platforms, makes the site the second largest hillfort in all of northern Britain. This was a fascinating place to work, although excavation of the oblong fort was an exercise in extreme archaeology, with the vitrified walls and areas of the interior tackled over two gruelling seasons. Our efforts were amply rewarded, however, revealing the buckled and heavily burnt wall-faces of the vitrified fort and a well, together with dating evidence placing the site’s entire lifespan in 400-100 BC. Comprehensive radiocarbon analysis gave no hint of later reuse of the site – something that made the results from the larger fort area all the more surprising and exciting.
Due to its size and elevation, scholars have suggested that the fort was built and occupied when the climate was warmer, possibly during the Bronze Age – but last year’s excavations turned that notion on its head, with radiocarbon dates from two platforms and the rampart spanning the 3rd to 6th century AD. The rampart belongs to the later part of that range, making it the largest early medieval hillfort we know from Britain – Tap O’Noth has the potential to shake the narrative of this whole time period.
LiDAR and photogrammetry surveys suggest that many more house platforms are contained within the lower fort than previously thought – perhaps as many as 800 – making this potentially one of the most-densely occupied hillforts known in Britain. It is suggestive of an urban-scale population, and in a Pictish context we have nothing to compare this to. More hut platforms need to be tested to assess if they are all of similar dates, but it is possible Tap O’Noth enclosed a huge settlement contemporary with the Barflat complex.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The Tap O’Noth findings give us an unexpected and unparalleled insight into an elite Pictish landscape of the 4th to 7th century AD. After the 3rd century, settlement is exceptionally difficult to trace – something that makes the Pictish period notoriously difficult to contextualise. Compared to the hundreds if not thousands of known Iron Age roundhouses, we have no more than a handful of Pictish settlements known from the lowlands, which is why the evidence from the sites we have described above is so important.
One of the few site-types that may preserve traces of settlement are hillforts and promontory forts, but there is no clear morphological signature for a Pictish enclosure. The Rhynie valley, for example, shows the diversity of enclosed sites constructed in this period, and known and dated sites are frustratingly limited. As a result, our work has had many misses as well as hits dozens of enclosed sites have been sampled, with the majority proving to be Iron Age rather than early medieval.
Very occasionally we have place-name or historical evidence to help target our work – such as at Bennachie, the site of a hillfort known as the Mither Tap, which we investigated last summer. Bennachie has been translated as ‘Mountain of Ce’, and Ce is mentioned in an ancient legendary section of the Pictish king-lists. Could it have been the pre-eminent site in this region? Bennachie is also possibly referred to in the two lost Gaelic sagas: Orgain Benne Ce (‘The Ravaging of Bennachie’) hints at a catastrophic battle or event at the site, while Orgain Maige Ce la Galo mac Febail (‘The Ravaging of the Plain of Ce by Galo son of Febal’) suggests further conflict in the area.
The Mither Tap hillfort consists of two large, but now collapsed, stone walls forming an upper and lower citadel surrounding a distinct granite tor that is highly visible in the surrounding landscape. The site was investigated in the 1870s by Christian Maclagan, one of Scotland’s earliest female archaeologists, and in 1881 she published a detailed plan of the fort showing the upper and lower ramparts, traces of possible roundhouses in both areas, and a well within the lower citadel.
More recently, path improvement works by Forestry Commission Scotland sparked small-scale excavations that confirmed activity at the site in the 1st millennium AD, but no extensive modern investigations had been carried out – until last June, when the Northern Picts team undertook another extreme archaeology season, trekking up the hill to evaluate the site more comprehensively. Excavation of the well, forgotten since the 19th century, exposed steps leading down to a small walled chamber and, after removing 19th century backfill, the well started functioning again, collecting water runoff from the hill in a nearmiraculous return to life. The lower citadel also yielded extensive midden deposits full of cattle, pig, and even fish bone (supplying the fort with the latter foodstuff would have been no mean feat), as well as traces of large platforms built up to create level bases for buildings.
The upper citadel held more evidence for early medieval occupation, and finds from across the site hinted at high-status metalworking. We also identified locally made pottery – a rare find from Pictish sites. Radiocarbon dating shows that the Mither Tap was in use in the 7th and 8th centuries AD it may have taken over as one of the regional centres of this part of Pictland after the demise of Rhynie. Interestingly, towards the base of Bennachie on the north-east side of the hill lies Aberdeenshire’s most impressive Pictish cross-slab, the Maiden Stone, which is carved with an elaborate interlaced cross and a series of Pictish symbols in relief. The new dates from the Mither Tap help contextualise the landscape context of this major monument.
Since 2018, one of our main fieldwork projects has been on the remarkable promontory fort at Burghead. Although the southern portion of the site was destroyed during construction of the modern village in the 19th century, it would have originally covered c.5.5ha, and some of the site’s best-known finds include nearly 30 stone slabs carved with images of bulls, and an impressive well.
The complexity of the fort’s defences, with timber-laced ramparts over 8m wide and 6m high, was revealed during excavations in the 1860s and 1890s, but there had been relatively little in the way of modern investigations other than the work of Alan Small in the 1960s, who thought that much of the interior had been destroyed. In fact, the interior remains largely intact, comprising an upper raised citadel and a lower citadel, both of which are surrounded on their seaward side by a grass-covered rampart, and in 2015-2017, small-scale sampling by the Northern Picts Project revealed floor layers of partially intact early medieval buildings surviving within the fort.
These investigations were scaled up in 2018-2019 (as part of the Leverhulme Trust-funded Comparative Kingship project), and trenches in both the upper and lower citadels revealed further early medieval buildings with intact floor layers preserved under up to 1m of 19th-century overburden. Investigations were also carried out at the western (seaward) end of the site, which was threatened by coastal erosion: this excavation, funded by Historic Environment Scotland, showed that exceptionally well-preserved stretches of early medieval rampart survive in this area to around 3m in height – these remains show clear evidence for their destruction by fire. Timber-laced ramparts of this scale and complexity rarely survive, and the Burghead example ranks among the best in Europe.
The finds from our excavations on this site have also been exciting: dress accessories, pieces of weaponry including a sword hilt, iron tools, bone pins, and metalworking evidence. One of the most-striking discoveries, though, was a pair of Anglo-Saxon coins of Alfred the Great (r. 871-899), which were recovered from the floor layer and midden of a building. They highlight the long-distance networks that this site was able to tap into and, intriguingly, these coins had been pierced, perhaps to be worn on a necklace or bracelet.
To-date, we have obtained over 40 radiocarbon dates from Burghead, showing that it was occupied from at least the 6th century AD and was destroyed in the 10th century – a fairly obscure period when the Pictish realm had become the expansionist Gaelic kingdom of Alba. Local tradition recounts that the site was destroyed by the Vikings – can continuing work at Burghead shed any light on the fate of this major centre, and of the northern Picts in this new era?
Our research has largely involved hitherto-unrecognised or largely unexplored Pictish sites, shedding unprecedented light on a period that has been relatively neglected in archaeological studies. As well as new excavations, the University of Aberdeen has been dating samples taken during older excavations to provide new and more-robust chronologies. This archival work is as important as the new investigations, and each redating project has led to entirely new chronological frameworks being developed for major but poorly dated sites. The results outlined in this article focus on hillforts and promontory forts as that is where settlement traces appear to be best preserved, but we have also been investigating unenclosed settlements where they exist, such as the wag (a type of longhouse) settlements in Caithness.
We have been investigating ecclesiastical sites too, another poorly understood part of Pictish archaeology (although one greatly improved by Martin Carver’s excavations at Portmahomack, Easter Ross – see CA 205 and 321). Recent geophysical survey and small-scale excavation at Kinneddar, Moray, for example, has identified a major ecclesiastical site around 5km from Burghead, revealing a vallum surrounding a church site that is the findspot of one of the largest collections of Pictish early Christian sculpture and a Class I symbol stone. The vallum encloses an area of 8.6ha, and the ground-plan presents striking resemblances to other important ecclesiastical centres, particularly the famous site of Iona (CA 292).
Radiocarbon dating suggests the ecclesiastical centre at Kinneddar was in use as early as the late 6th century, with the vallum likely to date to the 7th or 8th century. We have identified a number of large vallums at other church sites in northern Scotland, at such places as Migvie, Aberdeenshire Glamis, Perth and Kinross and possibly Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross. We also have a range of completed or in-progress PhDs at Aberdeen examining the cemetery traditions of the Picts, Pictish period settlement, and a range of other elements of Pictish-period archaeology.
A NEW VIEW OF THE PICTS
Over the last eight years, excavation and field survey by the University of Aberdeen has led to major new insights into the Picts, discovering new power centres and hitherto-unrecognised site-types, as well as providing crucial new contextual and dating evidence for the Pictish symbol tradition. This research has revealed exceptionally rare settlement evidence too, and provided new and more-robust chronologies for Pictish-period archaeology.
As for sharing these finds with the public, the Gaulcross silver hoard featured in an exhibition, ‘Scotland’s Early Silver’, by National Museums Scotland (CA 335), and we have worked with smaller regional museums, such as the Tarbat Discovery Centre, running exhibitions of our work. The project has produced popular books on the Picts while, at Rhynie, our excavations led to the formation of a local artistic collective called ‘Rhynie Woman’ who have organised a series of public-engagement activities that ran alongside the archaeological work, such as pop-up cafes and exhibitions, a fire festival, and local school initiatives. We have been featured in the national media, such as on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time and BBC2’s Digging for Britain, and have a prominent social-media presence. Above all, our aim is to promote new ways of engaging with the Pictish past, and to shed light on a period that for too long has been a particularly poorly illuminated part of the so-called ‘Dark Ages’.
This article appeared in CA 364. Read more features in the magazine. Click here to subscribe.
Prehistoric and medieval burials accompanied by weapons have been documented since the nineteenth century (e.g. Härke Reference Härke 1990: 22 Treherne Reference Treherne 1995: 105 Pedersen Reference Pedersen 2014: 15). Varying spatially and temporally, the practice expresses both lived warriorhood and the aspiration to, or identification with, such status (e.g. Lindqvist Reference Lindqvist 2004 Price et al. Reference Price, Hedenstierna-Jonson, Zachrisson, Kjellström, Storå, Krzewińska, Sobrado, Jokobsson and Götherström 2019: 192). In the post-Roman period (c. AD 400–700), weapon burials became particularly widespread, with examples from the North Sea zone in the west to the Black Sea in the east (Steuer Reference Steuer 1982 Halsall Reference Halsall 1995 Härke Reference Härke, de Jong, Theuws and van Rhijn 2001, Reference Härke 2014 Hines & Bayliss Reference Hines and Bayliss 2013). In Britain, burial with weaponry is attested from the Late Iron Age to the early medieval period (c. first century BC to the eleventh century AD) (Härke Reference Härke 1990: 25 Harding Reference Harding 2015)—and is particularly evident in early medieval England, where one in five furnished Early Anglo-Saxon male burials have weapons (Härke Reference Härke 1990: 25). A martial ideology in this society is also known through Old English epic poetry such as Beowulf and The Battle of Maldon (Swanton Reference Swanton 1978 Scragg Reference Scragg 1991 Bazelmans Reference Bazelmans 1999).
Weapon burials are rare in Ireland and northern Britain (e.g. O'Brien Reference O'Brien and Edwards 2009: 136–38 O'Brien & Bhreathnach Reference O'Brien, Bhreathnach, Edmonds and Russell 2011 Maldonado Reference Maldonado 2013 O'Sullivan et al. Reference O'Sullivan, McCormick, Kerr and Harney 2014: 283–99), but other categories of material evidence still testify to a warrior ideology and its materialisation in regionally specific ways. In Ireland, early medieval literature and law codes evidence and glorify the heroic behaviours of various warrior-leaders (Edel Reference Edel 2015), including Cú Chulainn and Fergus mac Róich in the Táin Bó Cúailnge of the Ulster Cycle (Kinsella Reference Kinsella 1969), and more generally in law codes such as the Críth Gablach (Kelly Reference Kelly 1988: 19). While there are numerous early medieval historical references to sieges and battles in northern Britain, there are few surviving details concerning these encounters, or the mentality and ethos of the combatants (Alcock Reference Alcock 2003: 144–45 for a comparative study, see Fraser Reference Fraser, Spiers, Crang and Strickland 2012). The exception is a group of poems known as Y Gododdin (Koch Reference Koch 1997 Clancy Reference Clancy 1998: 46–78), which praises the warriors of a polity centred on the Forth to Tyne area, and portrays, around AD 600, a life of feasting, plundering and heroic death (Haycock Reference Haycock, Rekdal and Doherty 2016). The ideals reflected in these texts indicate that, as in Anglo-Saxon England, the brave and successful warrior was accorded high social and ideological status in Ireland and northern Britain, although the scarcity, relative to that farther south, of graves with weaponry demonstrates that this ideology was materialised in different and regionally specific ways.
Unearthed Pictish stone reveals secrets of warrior-led society
Archaeologists took thousands of photos to create 3D images of the figure on the Tulloch Stone, which was discovered by road workers.
A Pictish stone discovered by road workers has helped archaeologists shed light on Scotland’s ancient warriors.
The monolith, nearly two metres high, depicts a male figure carrying a spear and was found during ground clearance work for the A9 and A85 in Perth.
Archaeologists have spent months clarifying and analysing images and believe it could be a sacred icon from a “cemetery of the elite” in Pictish times.
Researchers said the “significant find”, named the Tulloch Stone, could indicate the existence of a warrior-led society, key to repelling the invading Romans.
Researchers compared the find with figures on other Pictish stones (Historic Environment Scotland/PA)
University of Aberdeen archaeologists created 3D images from thousands of photographs, clarifying the design to enable to comparison with other ancient monoliths.
The university’s head of archaeology, Professor Gordon Noble, said: “On the Tulloch Stone we can now see that the man is carrying a distinctive doorknob-butted spear, which we know from previous research was in use from the third to the sixth century.
“He also has a very distinctive hairstyle, is wearing a helmet and necklace, and has a faint line around the left ankle which could suggest footwear or tight leggings.
“In line with the other stones, this is clearly a depiction of a warrior.”
He added: “Its ﬁnd spot overlooks the coming together of the rivers Tay and Almond, a junction marked by a Roman fort and later a possible Pictish royal centre, suggesting the monolith might have been located in a cemetery of the elite.
“Because the presentation of the figures is standardised across all of the stones, it is likely that it represents a generic sacred image, rather than it being a depiction of someone buried there.”
He said the find “bridges a crucial gap in knowledge”, adding: “We believe that the weapon-bearing individuals shown on these stones may represent a war-oriented social organisation that was integral to resisting the Roman Empire and to creating the overtly hierarchical societies of the post-Roman period.”
He said: “The workmen who scooped up this stone did well to realise that there was something on it and to alert the appropriate authorities.”
Mr Hall said it indicates the existence of a war lord or warrior ethos for which there was previously little evidence in Scotland.
He said: “In Anglo-Saxon England, we have lots of examples of burials with weaponry and the poem Beowulf epitomises the warrior ethos of this period.
“This has not been evidenced in Scotland in the same way but here through the new Tulloch find and a reconsideration of long-known stones we can see that warrior ideology cast in stone – meaning these martial values were conveyed in a very public way to be visible in the landscape and to invoke supernatural protection.”
A Goddess of sovereignty and often thought of as the Brigit of England. In 1667 Charles I had her face placed on the coinage where it remains today, reviving an old custom, first instated by the Romans who adopted her as their own.
Rules Over: Sovereignty, self-control, leadership, protection of your land, prosperity.
Goddess of fire and water. She is immortalised by many springs and wells. Brighid was so loved that she was made a saint when Christianity became onset. Associated with Imbolc. She had an exclusive female priesthood at Kildare and an ever-burning fire. She had 19 priestesses representing the 19-year cycle of the Celtic “Great Year.”
Rules Over: Fire, fertility, the hearth, all feminine arts and crafts, martial arts, healing, physicians, agriculture, inspiration, learning, poetry, divination, prophecy, smithcraft, animal husbandry, love, witchcraft, occult knowledge.
Alcohol sales in Scotland drop to lowest level for 26 years
The report said this is the 'lowest level seen in Scotland' since 1994, but remains higher than in England and Wales.SteveAllenPhoto via IStock
The amount of alcohol sold per person in Scotland fell to the lowest level for 26 years last year – but was still higher than it was in England and Wales.
New figures show 9.4 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in 2020 – the equivalent to each adult in the country drinking 18 units a week.
The report said this is the “lowest level seen in Scotland over the available time series (1994 onwards)”, with the drop from 9.9 litres per person in 2019 the largest on record.
While the amount of pure alcohol sold per person north of the border was 6% higher than in England and Wales, this was the smallest difference recorded since 1994.
The report, the latest from Public Health Scotland monitoring the impact of alcohol policy, found almost a quarter of all adults reported exceeding the safe weekly drinking guideline of 14 units a week in 2019.
This, however, was down from just over a third in 2003.
There were 1020 people whose deaths were described as being “wholly attributable to alcohol” in 2019 – an average of 20 people per week.
Over the course of 2019-20, 23,685 people were admitted to hospital with an alcohol-related diagnosis. Some of this group required such treatment more than once over the year, meaning there were 35,781 in-patient stays.
Meanwhile for both alcohol-related hospital stays and deaths, the rates were eight times higher in the most deprived parts of Scotland compared to the least deprived areas.
A total of 42.5 million litres of pure alcohol were sold in Scotland in 2020, the report revealed – with sprits and wine accounting for 31% of sales each, beer accounting for 27% and cider 6%.
With the coronavirus pandemic meant bars and restaurants were either closed or operating under restrictions for much of last year, 90% of alcohol was bought in supermarkets and other stores, up from 73% in 2019.
Dr Elizabeth Richardson, public health intelligence adviser at Public Health Scotland, said it is “likely” the pandemic had contributed to a fall in alcohol consumption in 2020.
She said the report shows “population-level alcohol consumption in Scotland has fallen for the third consecutive year, with the reduction from 9.9 litres per adult in 2019 to 9.4 litres per adult in 2020 representing the largest year-on-year decrease in Scotland in the time series available”.
Dr Richardson said: “In 2020 Covid-19 restrictions included the closure of licensed alcohol premises such as pubs, clubs and restaurants.
“We have previously shown that per-adult sales were lower overall between March and July last year, during the first national lockdown, and it’s likely that the pandemic and associated restrictions have contributed to the lower alcohol consumption we see across the Scottish population in 2020.
“Despite these trends, the most recent survey data show that nearly a quarter of people still drink more than the recommended low-risk weekly guideline. Among people exceeding the guideline, it is those in the lowest income group who are likely to consume the most.
“An average of 20 people per week die as a result of their alcohol consumption, and whilst this latest figure represents the lowest rate since 2012, again it is those in the most deprived areas that are more likely to be hospitalised or die because of an alcohol-related harm. Like all harm caused by alcohol, this is preventable.”
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said “We’re really pleased to see that as a nation we are drinking less for the third year running and that alcohol consumption is at a 25-year low.”
She continued: “But given nearly a quarter of Scots are still regularly drinking over the chief medical officers’ low-risk drinking guidelines, we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball where preventing alcohol harm is concerned.”
She called on the Scottish Government to raise the minimum price for alcohol from the current level of 50p a unit to 65p, saying this will “increase the positive benefits of the policy by reducing consumption, saving more lives and preventing a new generation from developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol”.
VIDEO: Ancient monolith depicting ‘elite’ Pictish warrior found during roadworks at St Johnstone stadium
A remarkable Pictish stone unearthed during roadworks near McDiarmid Park stadium was part of an “elite” burial ground, experts have revealed.
The ancient artefact, which depicts a man carrying a spear, was found buried near St Johnstone’s Perth home ground, as part of a £35 million upgrade of the A9/A85 junction.
For the past two years, the two-metre tall Tulloch Stone has been analysed by archaeologists at Aberdeen University as part of a wider study into Northern Picts.
Today, they reveal 3D images of a warrior – sporting a “very distinctive hairstyle” – which is engraved on the stone but, until now, has been difficult to make out.
The new images were produced from thousands of photographs of the stone. They can be used to compare it to similar finds at Rhynie in Aberdeenshire and Newton of Collessie in Fife.© DC Thomson
Dr Mark Hall, archaeological curator at Perth Museum, said the monolith was a “significant” discovery and helped “fill in the gaps” of Scotland’s warrior past.
“In Anglo-Saxon England we have lots of examples of burials with weaponry and the poem Beowulf epitomises the warrior ethos of this period,” he said.
“This has not been evidence in Scotland in the same way but here through the new Tulloch find and a reconsideration of long-known stones we can see that warrior ideology cast in stone, meaning these martial values were conveyed in a very public way to be visible in the landscape and to invoke supernatural protection.”© DC Thomson
Professor Gordon Noble, head of archaeology at Aberdeen added: “By looking at the three stones together, we have been able to draw new conclusions about what these figures represent.
“On the Tulloch Stone, we can now see that the man is carrying a distinctive door-knob butted spear which we know from previous research was in use from the third to sixth century.
“He also has a very distinctive hairstyle, is wearing a helmet and necklace and has a faint line around the left ankle which could suggest footwear or tight leggings.”
Prof Noble added: “In line with other stones, this is clearly the depiction of a warrior. Its find spot overlooks the coming together of the rivers Tay and Almond, a junction marked by a Roman fort and later a possible Pictish royal centre, suggesting the monolith might have been located in a cemetery of the elite.
“Because the presentation of the figures is standardised across all of the stones, it is likely that it represents a generic sacred image, rather than it being a depiction of someone buried there.”
He said the warrior was most likely to represent a “war-orientated social organisations” that resisted the Roman Empire.
The Tulloch Stone is expected to be rehomed at Perth City Hall, which is due to reopen as a new visitor attraction in 2022.
Dr Hall added: “Most of the recent Pictish finds have been as a result of people paying greater attention.
“The workmen who scooped up this stone did well to realise that there was something on it and to alert the proper authorities.”
He said: “It is likely that there are more Pictish stones out there to be found, and every new stone is a fantastic addition to the corpus.”
The History Blog
The Pictish symbol stone reused as a headstone in the 18th century that was discovered at an early Christian site near Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands has been confirmed to be an extremely rare cross slab. Found during a North of Scotland Archaeological Society (NOSAS) survey of a cemetery now on private land, the stone was embedded in the topsoil and partially covered by vegetation. NOSAS member Anne MacInnes spotted a foot carved on the surface and her fellow members confirmed it was a Pictish symbol stone. They reported it to the Highland Council archaeologist and the slab was excavated and safely removed.
When the stone was first found, it was reverse side up, the name and date of the deceased inscribed on the upper left corner. There was no cross on the exposed side, and because the back was coated with soil, when the slab was lifted archaeologists couldn’t see whether there was a cross carved on the other side either. Until they cleaned it, they wouldn’t know if it was one 350 or so extant symbol stones or in the much more elite club of 50 Pictish cross slabs.
Now that it has been cleaned and dried, the cross on the obverse is clear, but that’s not the only notable feature. The intricate cross is flanked on both sides by toothy beasts who, with massive canines and lolling tongues, face each other over the top of the cross. The fanged serpent-like creatures are unique in the iconography of Pictish carving. The imagery on the reverse of the stone — oxen, an animal-headed armed warrior, a double disc, a z rod symbol — are traditional Pictish symbols seen on other cross slabs.
It is believed to have been carved around 1,200 years ago, during the period when the Picts were becoming Christianised. […] This find has been described as being ‘of national importance’ by experts, as it is one of only 50 complete or near-complete Pictish cross-slabs known, and one of the first to be found on the Scottish mainland for many years. It is also the first object of this type found in this location and therefore suggests that the site dates back much further than was previously thought.
The cross slab needs further conservation and repair before it can be put on display at Dingwall Museum in Easter Ross. Most of the work will be funded by grants, but the NoSAS and The Pictish Arts Society have started a crowdfunding campaign to raise the remaining £20,000. With £12,208 raised from 106 supporters, the campaign is at 61% of the target.
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I did not have time to leave material about the knights of Scotland, when letters were immediately sent with the requests to tell about the Pictish warriors, the forerunners of the very Scots with whom the English king Edward fought. And, of course, the Picts theme goes beyond the “about knights” series, but since it is really very interesting, it is necessary to tell about them in more detail.
"Modern Picts". Today it is fashionable to reconstruct antiquity. There are those who recreate the life of the Romans, Greeks, Assyrians (!), As well as . elves, raises cups with "health" (vodka with honey) and runs through the woods with shouts: "We are elves, we are elves!". But these shout: "We are picts, we are picts!" And they have a lot of fun!
So, the Picts are the inhabitants of Scotland, who were also found by the Romans, but who happened to fight the Vikings. And so they fought, but they themselves were broken. Disappeared, dissolved among other nations, so much so that there is no trace of them left. However, something of them, of course, remains. But just something. And the most amazing thing is that they already lived in the era of writing, and even had it. But . except for a list of their kings, with an indication of the duration of their reign, nothing written from them has survived to our time. We do not have Pictish laws, chronicles, no one wrote the lives of local saints, did not attend to a collection of their legends, poems and traditions. There is not a single whole sentence that would be written in Pictish. Of course, the authors of other nations wrote about them, even the same Julius Caesar. But only this gives nothing much, except perhaps the very knowledge that they were and used to be painted blue. Or cover your body with a tattoo . Only the works of Pictish stone-cutters reached us, that is, the images on the stones, but they . do not contain small details. Next to them there are no inscriptions, and what they tell you can only guess!
37 test pages will be quite enough for you to decide whether to buy this book or not to buy it!
Therefore, there are many hypotheses about their origin (to the delight of fantasy authors!). One by one, they are descendants of Proto-Indo-European settlers, by another, they are relatives of the Iberians from Spain, or even the oldest pre-Indo-European inhabitants of Europe.
This book by David Nicolas was written by him in the 1984 year, but it is still relevant.
Whatever it was they were, they fought wars, so the Picts warriors will be discussed here. Well, as always, one should begin with historiography, that is, with who, what has already been written about it, that you can read about this topic yourself.
Paul Wagner wrote, of course, a very good and detailed book about the Picts. But it reads a bit hard . Although this is a subjective view.
The most accessible book we have in Russia is the study of Isabel Henderson, a well-known female English expert in picts and the author of many works, the first of which appeared back in 1967: “Picts. Mysterious warriors of ancient Scotland. " On the Internet, there are 37 evaluation pages of this edition and . in my opinion, more for the development of knowledge (unless you are a fan stories and culture picts) you do not need. The translation is good, but the book is hard to read.
Three books are available today in English (available and more, but these I read) and two of them are related to Osprey publications. The first book of D.Nikol “Arthur and the wars with the Anglo-Saxons”, and the second by Paul Wagner “The Warriors-Picts 297 -841”. In the first, no more than two pages are given to the picts, so you will not learn much from it, the second is devoted to them entirely. But the problem is that Wagner himself . an Australian from New South Wales (well, he became interested in picts and even wrote a PhD work on them), so he has English . not Oxford, and it is more difficult to read it than ordinary English books. He examines the picts and tattoos, and their stone carvings, in a word, his work really turned out to be interesting.
The Foster book is complex: there are Picts, Scotts, and Welsh .
Well, now, when we found out that there is literature about the Picts, both in Russian and in English, let's turn to their military affairs.
The attack of the Pictish warriors on the Roman fort. Fig. Vine Reynolds.
Let's start with the fact that in the war very quickly there is a borrowing of various samples. weapons. For example, in one of his monographs the same D.Nikol gives a photograph of the dish, which depicts a Saracen horseman with a typical knightly triangular shield. But, apparently, it was a different time, and then people became smarter.
Roman warriors in Britain, approx. 400. Both the Picts and the Britons and the Saxons, they all had before their eyes samples of the Roman military culture of the last centuries of the Empire. These are lush, but tasteless helmets of cavalry commanders, and chain mail, which the natives could easily mine as trophies, and "comb" helmets of two forged parts, and large oval shields. The Romans themselves at this time no longer sought to burden themselves with armor. Proficiency and discipline proved stronger than the barbaric fury, and the Romans themselves saw that mobility and collective defense were more effective than even the armor-clad legionnaires. Fig. Angus McBride
Because the Picts, fighting with the Romans and having before their eyes their weapons and military culture, did not adopt anything from them! In Pictish carvings it is impossible, for example, to distinguish armor, except for one or two figures in which a quilted leather tunic can be depicted. However, archaeologists have found a fragment of iron scaly armor from Karpov in Perthshire, as well as small diamond-shaped plates for Roman armor lorica squamata. However, both of these findings are controversial. It was probably the Roman armor that accidentally fell into the Pictish territory. Even helmets and those are rare on the Aberlem stone horsemen are depicted in rather typical helmets with long nasal plates and shoulder pads, similar to those found in Coppergate and Benty Grandege, but clearly not picts are depicted on them. In any case, this is the opinion of Paul Wagner and we have to reckon with him. The stone of Mordaha shows us a strange figure, who seems to be wearing a helmet with a crest, but archaeologists have found only one fragment of a similar helmet, and to whom it belonged again is unknown. Nevertheless, it would be permissible to assume that the Pictish to know - then she still knows! - still had helmets, and maybe armor from metal plates.
Roman-British rider V-VI centuries. - that is, the epochs when the Romans themselves left Britain, but many of their traditions and armament complexes remained there as before. Fig. Richard Hook.
The Picts' melee weapon had a sword with a straight blade, rhombic or with a dol and a small crosshair. Only a few fragments of the Pictish swords, La Tene style, and similar to the Anglo-Saxon were found. On Pictish images, parallel, wide blades with clearly rounded tips are visible, although it is difficult to judge their length. This form of the tip tells us about the technique of combat. That is, the Pictish technique of owning a sword was based on striking them, not for shots!
Warrior of the tribe of Caledonians (one of the tribes of the pre-Schelish population of Scotland), approx. 200 AD with characteristic for them, as well as the Picts, weapons, including a shield-buckler. Fig. Vine Reynolds.
Spears, of course, were, and they are depicted with large tips. In addition, it is known that they had one-handed and two-handed battle axes. It should be noted that for most Celtic societies darts were the main offensive weapon. Sometimes they were thrown with a belt attached to a pole.
The weapons and armor of the Picts, including their bakler shields of unusual shape. The 7 is the Roman crossbow solenarion. Fig. Vine Reynolds.
On the back of the Cross from Dupplin and The Stone of Sueno are picts armed with bows, indicating that the archery was known to them. And not only from the bow. The image of a Roman crossbow solenarion has reached us, the use of which is also confirmed by the discovery of crossbow bolts from the 7th - 8th centuries. This weapon had a low rate of fire and is found only in hunting scenes, but it would be reasonable to assume that it sometimes got into the battlefield as well. There is an opinion that the Picts also used specially bred and trained military dogs, which threw themselves at the enemy and bit his legs and other body parts that were not always covered with armor. The image of such dogs is also found.
Pictish 690 warriors. Horseman and infantryman, the rider armed with a heavy spear with a leaf-shaped tip and a quiver with three darts. Fig. Vine Reynolds.
The Pictish horsemen had round shields with hemispherical umbons, behind which was a handle, while the Pictish infantry used small round or square shields. The latter were of two types: a square shield with a umbon and a square shield with grooves at the top and bottom, so to speak, H-shaped. Interestingly, such shields have not been found anywhere else but in the Picts! On some Pictish carvings, we see decorated shields, and it is quite possible that such shields had an embossed leather covering, in addition, they could be decorated with copper rivets and bezels.
Hunter Pict (2), Pictish military leader with a square shield buckler (3), rider (1) - VII - IX centuries. Fig. Angus McBride
It turns out that the Picts created a well-known shield called the buckler, and in conscience it should be called the "Pictish shield." It is interesting that in one of the Irish legends the Picts armament is described as follows: “They had three black huge swords, and three black shields, and three black broad-leaved spears with thick, like a spit, shafts.” If you remove all the “black details” characteristic of children's horror stories - “in a completely black room, a little girl tied with a black rope was sitting on a black chair, and then a black hand appeared from the black-black floor . ” - and to accept this information without objection, then it can be made only one conclusion: the blades of the swords and the tips of the copies of the Picts were . blued rather than polished, apparently in order to protect the metal from the characteristics of the Scottish climate.
Well, the black color of the shields may indicate that they were “tarred” (later the Highlanders later used this technique), since the resin just gives the black color to the wood.
It is known that the Picts built a large number of mountain forts. An example of such fortifications is the "royal fortress" in Burghhead. There were wells and churches in them, which implies a fairly large number of people who were in them. Most of the forts, however, were relatively small, but built on rocky sites, so that the stone wall follows the contour of the rocks, so that their foundation would make it truly invulnerable. Mastering such fortifications played an important role in the Picts wars, although we know nothing about how this actually happened.
Training young picts sword fighting. Fig. Vine Reynolds.
Did the picts fight naked or not? It is widely believed that such a custom took place, although many modern researchers are skeptical. Of course, there are many Roman reports of Celts and Britons fighting naked. For example, about the Caledonians, who are depicted naked on several carved Roman plates, and about which the historian Herodian wrote: “They don’t know how to use clothes . they tattoo their bodies not only with images of animals of all kinds, but with various drawings. And that is why they do not wear clothes, so as not to hide these pictures on their bodies. ”
As far as all this is connected with the picts, it is not known for sure, but there are images of naked picts on several stones. By the way, the Romans wrote about the Galatians (the Celts who inhabited southern Turkey) that "their wounds were clearly visible because they fight naked, and their bodies are plump and white, because they are never exposed except in battle." That is, the Picts could also follow this custom and undress before the fight, but the clothes were certainly used. After all, there is winter in Scotland .
The image of a warrior-pict, covered with a tattoo. Fig. from the book 1590 (New York Public Library)
In addition, when a warrior was uncovered before the battle, he appealed for divine protection, possibly connected with the magical symbols painted on his body. There were also some practical reasons for not burdening oneself with clothes, because a naked body is harder to grab in close combat, and a wound on bare skin is less susceptible to infection than a wound on which dirty cloth rubs. It is for this reason that throughout the world there were traditions to duel naked, and even the Roman gladiators fought with only a helmet, brace and loincloth on their heads.
What is important is a purely psychological moment. It is possible that the army of naked, tattooed picts for civilized Romans was simply a terrifying sight.
Silver chain of picts made between 400 and 800 (National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh)
As for the mentality, it is known that the same Celtic warriors were proud, boastful and simply extremely concerned with the external manifestations of their masculinity and valor. This is exactly what their tattoos and silver jewelry say, that is, everything that was exhibited at the show. But even more important was to look courageous and noble in words. Because of this, they were prone to arrogance and exaggeration. As an example, Paul Wagner cites the boast of one Pictish “hero”: “When I am weak, I can go against twenty-one. A third of my strength is enough against thirty . Warriors avoid battle because of fear in front of me, and whole armies flee from me, ”to which the other casually replies:“ Not bad for a boy. ”
It would seem that the Picts could make armor from leather, since they had abundant leather and wool. They were also capable metalworkers. In any case, they made excellent gizmos from silver. But . at the same time, they preferred to fight naked, demonstrating their arrogance to the enemy. Other Celtic warriors were also prone to this. For example, in the battle of Karatak in 50 AD. Britons abandoned their armor and helmets, believing that their shields were sufficient protection for them. In the Battle of the Standard in 1138, warriors from Galloway were first placed in the rear of the Scottish army, because they did not have armor. But their leader considered it to be damage to their military prowess and demanded to put them forward, and let the armor, they say, wear cowards!
Celtic folklore is replete with examples of how heroes attacked by numerous opponents fight in knightly manner with them, because there was no fame or honor just to kill the enemy by leaning on him in a heap. Perhaps the Pictish choice of small shield-bucklers and wide slashing swords just indicates that martial art played a very large role in the Picts military clashes, since it is this combination of means of attack and defense that gives significant advantages in one-on-one combat, but is far from ideal. in a large-scale battle.
Coppergate Helmet. York, England. The second half of the eighth century. The helmet resembles the helmets of the Northumbrian horsemen depicted on images left on the picts, carved on stones in Aberlemno, which presumably depict the battle of Nehtansmer. (Yorkshire Museum)
At the same time, it was considered quite normal to outwit a stronger enemy and in no way was condemned. The ancient Indian Mahabharata also shows us the surprising similarity of this attitude to war. So noble, honest and straightforward in peacetime, the Pandavas indulge in any deception in order to defeat the Kauravas who arrived in peacetime in the battletime! That is, in the war, both the Celts and the ancient Indians, as well as the Persians, believed that “any way is good, which leads to victory!” * For example, when the legendary hero Kuhulin had to fight the powerful Ife, he asked his mentor Skatakh and I found out what Aife values most in the world.
“There are three things that she likes most,” said Skata. “These are her two horses, her chariot and her chariot.”
Cuchulin entered into battle with Aife and fought her on the "rope of deeds". And Aife smashed his sword, leaving one handle and part of the blade, no more than a fist.
“Look, oh, look!”, Then Kuchulin shouted, “Your driver, two horses and a chariot fell into the valley, they are all dead!”
Aife looked around, and Cuchulin jumped on her and grabbed both breasts, then threw her back, brought her into his camp and threw her on the ground, and he stood above her with a drawn sword, which symbolized his victory.
The tactics of fir in battles against cavalry envisaged the use of a “wall of shields”, which the Scots later used in the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Fig. Vine Reynolds.
At the same time, the Pictish warrior was part of a cohesive unit, in which the clan structure was the most extreme: the soldiers lived, ate, slept, fought, killed and died all together. The respect that the warrior won by his glorious death somewhat softened their grief over his loss, because the glory of the fallen to some extent concerned the rest of his comrades. But it was especially accepted to grieve about the leaders, and the leaders are victorious, generous and courageous.
I carry my head in a raincoat:
This is the head of Urien, the generous ruler of his court.
On his white chest crows flew.
And I carry his head in my hand:
Reliance Britain fell.
My hand is numb.
My chest is trembling.
My heart is broken.
It was in such verses that the death of such leaders was celebrated, which at least in words indicates the deep reverence that ordinary soldiers and . ancient storytellers had for them.
Northumbrian Cavalry (right) is wearing helmets that look like a Coppergate helmet. An image on one of the stones in Aberlemno, which presumably depicts the Battle of Nechtansmer. (The churchyard in the parish church of Aberlemno (the stone is sometimes called Aberlemno II))
Picts, as a people, are traced in the history of Britain up to the 843 year, and then the messages about them disappear, and they themselves completely disappear from the historical arena. And how it happened, in general, still no one knows!
"Snake Stone" with drawings of the Picts from Aberlemno.
* These words are told to the bogatyr Rustam Shah Kavus from the poem by Firdousi “Shahnameh”, causing him to fight with Suhrab, who is the son and . Rustam, without recognizing his son, kills him and . repeats these words!
1. Nicolle, D. Arthur and Anglo-Saxon Wars. London Osprey Publishing Ltd., (MAA No. 154), 1984.
2. Wagner, P. Pictish Warrior AD 297 - 841.Oxford. . Osprey Publishing Ltd., (Warrior # 50), 2002.
3. Smyth, Alfred. Warlords and Holy Men. Edinburgh: University Press. 1984, 1989.
4. Foster, S., Foster, SM Picts, Gaels and Scots: Early Historic Scotland. Batsford, 1996.
5. Bitla, Lisa M. Cornell University Press, 1998.
6. Newton, Michael. A Handbook of the Scottish Gaelic World. Four Courts Press, 2000.
7. Henderson, Isabel. Picts Mysterious warriors of ancient Scotland / Trans. from English N. Yu. Chekhonadskaya. M .: CJSC "Tsentrpoligraf", 2004.
Ancient warrior engraving sports stylish hairdo, ‘doorknob-butted’ spear
The Tulloch stone depicts a spear-holding ancient warrior.
Archaeologists in Scotland have discovered an ancient monolith that’s engraved with a spear-holding warrior sporting an “elaborate hairstyle” and “pronounced” butt.
In September 2017, construction workers uncovered the stone monument in the northwest side of Perth in Scotland while clearing the ground to build a new road. The y found the stone face down and buried a little more than 3 feet (1 meter) in the ground.
The so-called Tulloch stone is about 6.4 feet (1.9 m) high and 2.3 feet (0.7 m) wide on one side, it depicts a human figure holding a spear with a “kite-shaped blade and a doorknob-style butt,” the authors wrote in a paper describing the findings published Jan. 23 in the journal Antiquity.
The surface of the stone was partly broken apart into layers, and portions of the carving were faded. But with the help of 3D imaging and a technique called photogrammetry which involves stitching together hundreds of photographs of an object taken from different angles, archaeologists were able to reconstruct the original design. It’s not clear if the figure was depicted naked, as faint lines at the ankles might suggest he wore shoes or tight leggings.
The stone was buried near a ring ditch, possibly indicating that the monolith was part of a burial, according to the paper. The carving belonged to the Picts, an ancient Celtic-speaking group who lived in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. (The Romans coined the name “Picts,” meaning the “painted people,” possibly in reference to the group’s distinctive tattoos or the war paint they wore.)
In the late Roman period, the Picts helped to defend the area that’s now known as Scotland from multiple Roman attacks as such, in the early medieval period that followed, war became an important part of how the Picts’ society was organized.
We know from historical records and poetry that “the warrior is an essential part of society, the central part of power,” said senior author Gordon Noble, a professor in the school of geosciences at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom. Pictish society adopted a warrior way of life initially as a “form of resistance” against the Roman empire, but it later became an “inspiration” and a key part of culture, he added.
It’s not clear what the warrior on this monolith &mdash and similar ones previously found nearby depicting warrior figures holding “doorknob-butted spears” &mdash represent, but they could be depictions of warrior gods or religious figures within this war-oriented Pictish ideology, Noble told Live Science. War ideology was common across a larger part of Europe but was more typically represented through the burial of weapons with the dead.
Such burials, historical sources and poetry that depict the “heroic warrior ethos” were common across Northern Europe but largely absent from northern Britain in the first millennium A.D. Rather, in northeastern Scotland, such values were publicly shown with carvings on monuments and likely associated with cemeteries belonging to the elite, the researchers noted in the paper.
The Tulloch stone is only one of three such Pictish monoliths found in the area with carvings of warriors on them. But there have been numerous other Pictish stones found with carvings of abstract or animal symbols often thought to be a simple way of representing names, Noble said.
“Over the last 10 years it seems like we’ve had a new Pictish stone every year or even more than one every year,” Noble said. “So I’m sure more will come up, but the stones with images of warriors are still quite rare in the wider Pictish stone corpus.” The stone will eventually be put on display in the Perth museum in Scotland.