Scotland

Overview of site showing archaeologists working on Early Neolithic Houses

Neolithic house at Cata Sand

Braving the inter-tidal waves at at Cata Sand beach on Sanday, Orkney, archaeologists have uncovered the first ‘classic’ early Neolithic house to be discovered on the island. Dating from c.3400-3100 BC, the house’s remains comprise two construction layers, with internal structures ranging from a stone set hearth and various pits to partitioning walls. Its footprint […]

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Pictish longhouse unearthed at Burghead Fort?

Burghead Fort, near Lossiemouth in Moray, is thought to have been a significant Pictish seat of power, being the biggest fort of its type in Scotland. However, it was long believed that the site had been largely destroyed by 19th-century development. Now archaeological work has revealed the presence of a surviving building with intact floor […]

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Discoveries from the deep: sailing aboard the Swan in the 17th century

In 1653, a small Cromwellian warship was lost off the west coast of Scotland. Excavated between 1992 and 2003, the wreck of the Swan yielded finds that tell stories of cutting-edge weaponry, mishaps on board, and plunder. Now the full report has been published, Colin Martin reveals the ship’s secrets and explains why wrecks are […]

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Rheged rediscovered: uncovering a lost British kingdom in Galloway

The Pictish carvings etched near the summit of Trusty’s Hill, a vitrified hillfort in Dumfries and Galloway, are as enigmatic as they are striking, located far to the south of where you would expect to find this kind of artwork. But how old are the carvings, are they even genuine, and what can archaeology tell […]

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Current Archaeology 327

Why were Pictish symbols carved into Trusty’s Hill, far to the south of where they usually occur? Investigation of a hillfort towering over the images reveals that the site developed into a prosperous centre in the 6th century AD, and may even have been at the heart of the lost kingdom of Rheged. If so, […]

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Swartigill Iron Age Project

Swartigill lies within the famous Yarrows landscape in Caithness, a small area of incredible richness of prehistoric remains. in the far north of Scotland.  Our site was indicated in 2004 by some stonework eroding out of the bank of the Swartigill burn which rises from Oliclett, an extensive Mesolithic occupation site discovered 3 years previously. […]

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Current Archaeology 322

Archaeology is alive with uncertainties. Time and again new sites or technologies upend longstanding theories. All this month’s featured sites show the sometimes fractious relationship between fresh research and what we think we know. Early digging at a newly discovered Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Great Ryburgh unearthed a rare coffin created from a hollowed-out tree. The […]

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Interview: John Reid talks about bullets and Burnswark on BBC Radio 4

Listen to John Reid, author of our cover feature Bullets, ballistas and Burnswark, discuss his research at Burnswark Hill on Radio 4’s Today (2 June 2016). The hill in Dumfriesshire is home to a 17-acre native hillfort held in a vice-like grip by two Roman camps. This configuration of Roman camps straddling a hillfort is unique in Britain, and attempts to […]

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Current Archaeology 316

The true nature of the events that played out at Burnswark in the 2nd century AD has long excited speculation. Two Roman camps were aggressively positioned to hold a former native hillfort in a vice-like grip, but does this dramatic arrangement testify to a desperate siege, or a rigorous military training regime? Now an ingenious new approach to studying the […]

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Bullets, ballistas, and Burnswark

A Roman assault on a hillfort in Scotland The ancient author Josephus once observed of the Roman military that ‘their training manoeuvres are battles without bloodshed, and their battles manoeuvres with bloodshed’. The difficulty in distinguishing between these states is well illustrated by the residue from a Roman artillery barrage at Burnswark. Were they aiming […]

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