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Monastery of the Picts

Martin Carver

Edition: 2

eBook (ePub) i
eBook (PDF) i

An archaeological window on a thousand formative years of the making of Scotland

Portmahomack today is a serene fishing village on the Dornoch Firth, north east Scotland where archaeological excavations have written a new history of the origins of Scotland. This book brings alive the expedition and its discoveries, most famously a monastery of the eighth century in the land of the Picts.

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List of figures
List of plates
1. Welcome to Portmahomack
2. Designing the expedition
3. What we found
4. An Elite farmstead, sixth to seventh century (Period 1)
5. The Monastery: its rituals and industries, eighth century (Period 2)
6. Serving new masters, ninth to eleventh century (Period 3)
7. Medieval church and village, twelfth to sixteenth century (Period 4)
8. Ritual landscape, with portage: the Tarbat Peninsula in history
9. Reflections
Index. 0

About the Author

Martin Carver was an army officer for 15 years, a commercial archaeologist for 13 and Professor of Archaeology at York 1986-2007. He has created two commercial archaeology units (Birmingham Archaeology and FAS-Heritage Ltd.) and initiated two museums (at Sutton Hoo and Portmahomack). He has carried out archaeological research in England, Scotland, France, Italy and Algeria and is the author of Archaeological Investigation (2009). His awards include the European Archaeology Heritage Prize for 2015.


‘Carver's meticulous work has illuminated the discussion of Pictish monasticism, and given context for the unparalleled sculpture of the Tarbat Peninsula, marking this as one of the most remarkable early medieval sites in Western Europe... The second edition allows us to see how post-excavation analysis further revolutionised our understanding, connecting the fifth to seventh century occupants with a horse riding warrior aristocracy with links across Britain, a theme which resonates on the later cross-slabs on the Peninsula.’

- Daniel W. MacLean, Scottish Archaeological Journal