Ancient Pictish Stone Uncovered Near Dingwall as Historians Marvel!

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When archeologists declare that they’ve stumbled upon a ‘once in a lifetime discovery’, we like to take notice. For that reason, all eyes were on a Christian dig site just outside Dingwall when archeologist Ann MacInnes unearthed a game-changing stone tablet. The six-foot-tall stone totem would end up having historic roots that would leave archeologists and historians reeling from its implication. Let’s take a look through the discovery at Dingwall that is changing the historical community.

The Ancient Dig Location

Our journey begins alongside Anne MacInnes at an early Christian dig site just outside Dingwall. While digging at a Christian church, MacInnes hadn’t anticipated what she would soon unearth. In a matter of days, MacInnes would reveal an ancient stone totem, one of only 50 known to exist on the entire planet.

Understanding Geography of the Area

Understanding the importance of this discovery depends on an adequate understanding of the history of the area. The giant tone slab was found within the Scottish Highlands, right outside the town of Dingwall. We’ll discuss the Scottish Highlands and its relevance more as we dig deeper into this discovery. Just know that it didn’t take long for the archeological community to take notice.

Getting a Second Opinion

Once MacInnes revealed the discovery of the ancient stone, archeologists from around the world descended upon the site. In the historical community, it is important for expert minds to pool their resources when discussing such a huge discovery as this one. After these new scientific minds performed their analyses they would reveal that MacInnes’ had found a true treasure.

Removing the Stone For Analysis

After realizing that the stone was legitimate, the archeologists got to work removing the stone from the ground. While discovering the ancient totem was important, taking it from the ground in one piece was even more important. With so much to learn from this intricate discovery, every movement was so important.

History of the Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands are a historic region located in Scotland. The Highlands possess a rich history that stretches back for millennia. Nowadays, the Highlands are largely left alone as the rest of European citizens cluster around larger cities. Our story isn’t focused on the modern Scottish Highlands. Instead, we are focused on the ancient period where the land was settled by the Picts.

Closer Look at the Pictish Stone

The Picts were a largely individual people consisting of tribes throughout the Highlands. The Picts spoke the Celtic language and their history dates back to the tenth century via Latin historical documentation. The stone that MacInnes had found was an ancient artifact that belonged to a Pict tribe. What was it doing near a Christian church?

What Was Pictish Life Like

Pict life was rustic yet advanced in certain ways. Communities would largely focus on a single clan, ruled over by a chief. Pict clans would occasionally find conflict among themselves, though they did not entirely live apart. In fact, Pict clans may not have been nearly as antagonistic toward one another as we thought.

Pict Clans Would Come Together

Pict clans would occasionally come together when it came time to defend their homeland from outsiders. Whenever the Pict people were threatened by an external enemy, clans would unite in order to run them away. In this process, Pict clans would mingle and form partnerships that served to benefit both communities.

What Was a Pict Leader Like

Were you to live among the Pict people during their heyday, you would follow the rule of the clan chief. The chief of a Pict clan was known as the communal father, someone who cared for and oversaw to the care of everyone in his community. Pict leaders were treated with reverence, though they were almost always related to their followers.

History of Scotland and Britain

When armed conflict was brought to the Pict people, their men were expected to defend their lands. In 54 B.C., Julius Caesar would send forces to Great Britain with the intention of invading.  Years later, Julius Agricola, would try to invade Scotland only to be stopped by the Picts and their leader, Calgacus.

Tacitus Makes a Stunning Discovery

During these armed excursions into Scotland, a Roman historian named Tacitus closely followed the events. Tacitus would be the one to discover that the Pict people did not have a true and ultimate later, as many had assumed Calgacus to be. Still, Calgacus earned enough respect and demanded enough loyalty that more than 30,000 men would follow him into battle. Astonishingly enough, the Picts would be done in by religion, not warfare, as Christianity spread throughout the region.

Developing Hadrian’s Wall

With the Pict people showing their steadfast loyalty during warfare, the Romans would give up on Scotland, at least for a time. In 122 A.D., Hadrian’s Wall would end up being built to separate Roman Britain from the Picts in Scotland. These fortifications can still be found where they were originally laid.

Life Before Christianity

Prior to the development of Christianity among the Picts, the Pictish folk of Scotland lived by their own sort of paganism which focused extensively on nature. The Picts would worship a nature goddess, erecting monuments in supplication to her power. Prior to the arrival of Christianity, the Pictish people were entirely different.

Gender Politics of Pict Life

In fact, prior to Christianity, the Picts were considered relatively progressive. Within the traditional Pict world, men and women were considered to be true equals with both possessing leadership qualities. Many times, Pictish men would be separated based on the strength of their mother’s line. Isn’t that something?

Finding History Via Stone

Despite what we’ve talked about so far, knowledge of the Picts isn’t as concrete as many would like. Understanding the Picts has come largely by way of archeological stones that have been found throughout Scotland. Secondhand accounts from Romans have also contributed to our understanding of the Picts. 

Closer Look at the Embedded Stone

Knowing that knowledge of the Picts was so limited, the discovery made by Anne MacInnes was all the more important. This rare Pictish artifact, one of only 50 on the planet, could serve as the next great step toward a more full understanding of the Picts and their way of life.

The Historic Find of a Lifetime

Anne MacInnes works for the North of Scotland Archeological Society (NOSAS). NOSAS was first established in 1998 with a focus on works throughout northern Scotland. Since the NOSAS first began operating in the area, the group has made an incredible amount of historically relevant discoveries.

What Discoveries Are Still Out There?

MacInnes stated that she was clearing vegetation from the ground when she stumbled upon the elaborate carving. As one of the rarest carvings in the entire country, we can only matter what other items are out there. Will we be seeing more amazing discoveries in the near future? Will we be granted a new and more well-rounded understanding of the Pict people?


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