The Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies reported a seminar that took place in March of 2014. Dr. Gordon Noble (from Aberdeen University) spoke about recent excavation work involving the Rhynie Man site that we reported about in a previous news post. Dr Gordon Noble, discussed excavation work at Rhynie in Aberdeenshire. Rhynie is said to mean ‘a very royal place’ and Dr Noble suggested that the archaeological evidence was beginning to match with this.
A Complex landscape of Palisades and Timber Buildings
The Craw Stone monument (pictured above) sits within a complex landscape featuring other monuments including palisades and timber buildings. The timber used to construct the palisade (which was 60m across) may have been imported from elsewhere. The site also features two ditch defenses and chronologically, these seem to be earlier than the palisade. Near the centre of the site, there is evidence for a large hall made from planks.
Axe-headed pin similar to Rhynie Man’s Axe found
In 2011/12, shards of a Roman amphora, dating to c. 600, were found at Rhynie. Similar pots have been found at other high status royal sites across Europe; in Scotland, these are limited to Whithorn and Dumbarton. In 2012, the team found an axe-headed pin–their ‘star find’–which is very similar in appearance to the axe the ‘Rhynie Man’ carries (both pictured below). Dr Noble suggested this may have been a depiction of a ceremonial axe used to sacrifice cattle. The pin features an animal head biting down on the blade, with a curved tail sweeping down the shaft.
The front face of a Pictish cross slab modeled moments after the stone was lifted.
In 2013, the team excavated a projecting ditch at the entrance of the site. Dr Noble compared this to Roman camps which had similar features intended to prevent a direct charge. While the site at Rhynie was clearly not defensible, the ditch may have been a symbolic defense of the site. Dr Noble concluded by highlighting the successful community engagement enjoyed by the excavation team, which included a Pictish café selling Rhynie Man gingerbread!
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