Portmahomack: Monastery of the Picts
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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1 Welcome to Portmahomack
2 Designing the expedition
3 What we found
Part 2 Age of Fame
4 The monks arrive
5 Carvers and thinkers
6 Architects and artisans
7 Serving new masters
archaeological aumbry bones Bronze Age building burial buried carved stone Carver cattle centre chancel chapel Chapter Christian churchyard cist cofﬁns Columba context Cromarty Cromarty Firth cross cross-slab crypt deﬁned Dornoch Firth east end east wall Easter Ross ECMS eighth century enclosure ditch excavation Fearn ﬁeld ﬁgure ﬁlled ﬁnd ﬁne ﬁre ﬁrst ﬂat ﬂoor Fortriu fragments Garner-Lahire Glebe Field grave markers hearth Henderson 2004 Hilton of Cadboll Historic Scotland interlace Iona Iron Age later layer Loch Loch Eye medieval metal-workers monastery monastic monuments Moray Firth nave Nigg Norse north aisle ornament panels parish pebbles Pictish symbols Pictland Picts pieces Plate plough portage Portmahomack post-pits posts prehistoric radiocarbon dates road Roman Ross sand sandstone sculpture Sector sequence Shandwick Shandwick and Hilton side signiﬁcant sixth century slabs south wall spirals St Colman’s church Tarbat peninsula turf vault Viking west end west wall workshops ZONE