Portmahomack: Monastery of the Picts

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Edinburgh University Press, 2008 - History - 240 pages
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A trail of chance finds on the outskirts of Portmahomack during the 19th and 20th centuries culminated in 1996 in the first exposure of a Pictish settlement in northern Scotland. The area soon became the subject of one of the largest research excavations ever to have taken place on the Scottish mainland. Discover the world of the Picts with this unique account of the discovery and excavation of an early monastery. Dating from the 6th to the 9th century AD, Portmahomack is one of the earliest Christian sites to be revealed in Britain and the first in the land of the Picts. The monastery was destroyed between 780 and 830 AD and was then lost to history before being unearthed by Martin Carver and his colleagues.In this highly illustrated book, Martin Carver describes the discovery of the site and the design and execution of the research programme, then traces the events that occurred from the mid-6th century to the 11th century when the parish church was founded on the former monastic site. The book ends with the subsequent history of the church of St Colman and a study of the Tarbat peninsula. The author's conclusions advance the theory that this was a prehistoric place before the monks arrived, and that they marked out the boundaries of their estate in the late 8th century with the lives of local saints carved on some of the greatest stone sculptures of the age.
  

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Contents

1 Welcome to Portmahomack
3
2 Designing the expedition
16
3 What we found
37
Part 2 Age of Fame
71
4 The monks arrive
73
5 Carvers and thinkers
94
6 Architects and artisans
118
7 Serving new masters
136
Part 3 Legacy
149
St Colmans Church
151
9 Ritual landscape with portage
173
10 A holy place in history
191
Digest of evidence
203
Bibliography
227
Index
235
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Martin Carver is professor of archaeology, University of York, and the editor of Antiquity and project director at Portmahomack.

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