Picts research to feature on two new TV shows

13 December 2023
Work led by a team from the University of Aberdeen Archaeology Department to uncover the history of the Picts has been shortlisted for a prestigious book award and will feature in two forthcoming TV series.

Picts Scourge of Rome, Rulers of the North, written by the University of Aberdeen’s Gordon Noble and Nicholas Evans,, is in the running as Book of the Year in the 2024 Current Archaeology Awards.

The Picts have long been regarded as a mysterious people, leaving behind little evidence of their presence other than their iconic carved stones. Their image in ancient culture was of a ‘barbarian’ and war-like society.

Now work by University of Aberdeen archaeologists through the Northern Picts and Leverhulme-funded Comparative Kingship projects has revealed a very different picture of the early societies of northern Britain given the name 'Picti' meaning 'Painted Ones', by the Romans.

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The Picts are first mentioned c. AD 300 and in the 4th century they defied the might of the Roman Empire only to disappear at the end of the first millennium AD. They laid the foundations for the medieval Scottish kingdom and research led by Professor Noble and his team has produced critical new insights into the culture of a highly sophisticated society.

The volume is the first dedicated book on the Picts that covers in detail both their archaeology and their history, examining their kingdoms, culture, beliefs and everyday lives from their origins to their end.

It has been described by the Pictish Arts Society as ‘a milestone in Pictish studies’.

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The craw stane

The team’s work at Mither Tap in Aberdeenshire will also feature in the Disney Channel’s Lost Cities later this month and on the BBC’s Digging for Britain programme in the New Year, presented by Dr Alice Roberts.

Professor Noble said: “We are delighted to be in the running for the Book of the Year at the Current Archaeology Awards.

“The book brings together a decade of research and excavation to show a new viewpoint on this critical era in Scottish history. Our discoveries have revealed a sophisticated society, in touch with trading networks that extended across Europe and creating large, hierarchical settlements”.

“We are delighted to be able to share the new perspectives on the Picts with audiences both through the book and in the Digging for Britain and Lost Cities TV series. The BBC crew for Digging for Britain accompanied us on excavations at Mither Tap a summit on Bennachie, near Inverurie, where we have been able to confirm Pictish occupation in the 7th and 8th centuries AD, helping us to better understand the timelines of Pictish settlement. The Lost Cities series with Albert Lin features our work at Tap o’ Noth and a range of other Pictish sites including Burghead”

Votes in the Current Archaeology awards can be cast here.

Report and images courtesy University of Aberdeen.