Royal Forteviot: excavations at a Pictish power centre in eastern Scotland

Ewan Campbell & Stephen Driscoll
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The Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot Project (SERF), run by the University of Glasgow, was one of the largest research projects undertaken in Scotland in recent decades.

The original stimulus for the project was a major complex of cropmarks situated to the south of the early medieval royal centre of Forteviot in eastern Scotland, celebrated as the site of the palace of Cináed mac Alpín (d AD 858), and home to an internationally significant collection of Pictish sculpture. A programme of survey and excavation over five seasons, supported by over 130 radiocarbon dates, revealed not only a prehistoric ceremonial complex covering some 26ha but also Pictish burials and cremations both within and respecting the earlier monuments.

The fieldwork results are complemented by studies on history, architecture, place-names, and landscape, as well as the first detailed account of one of the most important collections of Pictish sculpture in Scotland, including two large free-standing crosses. This study places the Pictish ceremonial centre within the context of Celtic royal sites, explores the apparent Byzantine influences behind the royal ceremonial practices of the 8th to 10th century, and positions Forteviot as having a decisive influence on the emergence of the Gaelic Kingdom of Alba c AD 900.

This volume reports on the early medieval remains; details of the prehistoric remains can be found in CBA Research Report 176: Prehistoric Forteviot: excavations of a ceremonial complex in eastern Scotland (Brophy and Noble 2020).