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The remains of timber and stone fortifications, a royal hall and a smith’s workshop, dating to the Dark Ages, have been discovered on a hilltop called Trusty’s Hill in Galloway.

Credit: copyright DGNHAS / CDDV


By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor

The heart of a lost Dark Ages kingdom may have been discovered in southern Scotland.

A new book, “The Lost Dark Age Kingdom of Rheged” (Oxbow Books, 2016), tells of the inadvertent discovery of a set of fortifications dating to about A.D. 600 on a rise called Trusty’s Hill in Galloway overlooking Fleet Valley. The discovery came as part of the Galloway Picts Project, an effort launched in 2012 to study carvings left by a people called the Picts, who lived in Scotland until the early medieval period and were eventually absorbed by other Gaelic cultures.

(The Dark Ages is a term for the early Middle Ages, or about A.D. 500 to A.D. 1000, so named because it was long thought of as a culturally limited period when “barbarians” were moving into the crumbling Roman Empire. Scientists have recently challenged this negative view of the era, however.)

Pictish carvings had been found on Trusty’s Hill, far south of where such carvings were typically discovered. Archaeologists led by the private firm GUARD Archaeology excavated at the site beginning in 2012 and discovered timber and stone fortifications, a royal hall and a smith’s workshop. The structure, according to the archaeologists, was what is known as a “nucleated” fort, a stronghold from which the local royals would have ruled the surrounding countryside. The spot, they say, was likely the center of a lost kingdom called Rheged, the dominant kingdom in northern Britain until the seventh century. [The 25 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]


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