July 11, 2021

3.8 Bonus Episode. Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe: A Powerful Place of Pictland!

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Prof. Gordon Noble, University of Aberdeen.







GORDON NOBLE, MEGGEN GONDEK, EWAN CAMPBELL, NICHOLAS EVANS, DEREK HAMILTON & SIMON TAYLOR (2019) 'A Powerful Place of Pictland: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on a Power Centre of the 4th to 6th Centuries AD', Medieval Archaeology, 63:1, 56-94, DOI: 10.1080/00766097.2019.1588529

To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00766097.2019.1588529


OUR UNDERSTANDING of the nature of late and post-Roman central places of northern Britain has been hindered by the lack of historical sources and the limited scale of archaeological investigation. New work at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland (NJ 49749 26345), has begun to redress this through extensive excavation and landscape survey. This has revealed a Pictish central place of the 4th to 6th centuries AD that has European connections through material culture, iconography and site character. In addition to reviewing the place-name and historical context, this article outlines preliminary reflections on five seasons of excavation and survey in the Rhynie landscape. The article also provides a detailed consideration of chronology, including radiocarbon dating and Bayesian statistical analysis. The results reveal the multi-faceted nature of a major, non-hillfort elite complex of Pictland that comprised a highstatus residence with cult dimensions, a major centre for production and exchange, and a contemporary cemetery. A series of sculptured stones stood in association with the settlement and cemetery and the iconography of the stones, along with the wider archaeological evidence, provides a rich dataset for a renewed consideration of the central places of early medieval northern Britain with broader implications for the nature of power and rulership in late and post-Roman Europe.


Noble, G. 2020. 'The problem of the Picts: Searching for a lost people in northern Scotland', Current Archaeology 364 p28-35.

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?


This is a podcast about new and innovative research in archaeology.

Each episode I talk with pioneering and influential archaeologists about their journal papers, books and research projects.

Season 1 is all about the latest research into the Archaeology of the Roman West.

Season 2 is on Innovative Research in Australia.

Season 3 is on Early Medieval Europe.

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Medieval Europe, Osteoarchaeology, Mesoamerica, Pacific Archaeology, Prehistoric Burials, Post-Medieval, Scientific Techniques, South-east Asia, Bronze Age Monuments. You tell me!

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