How to get involved

The Pictish Symbol Stone is unique in Galloway, with the potential to represent crucial evidence for the early cross cultural exchange at a time when Scotland was emerging as a distinct country within the British Isles, and which raises a whole host of research questions we want to answer.

The principle aim of the Galloway Picts Project is to investigate Trusty’s Hillfort for archaeological evidence of British, Pictish and Scottish cultural interaction in Galloway.  We aim to do this by re-excavating Charles Thomas’s trenches in order to recover, for modern analysis, the environmental and dating evidence not recovered in the 1960s.  Such analysis will enhance understanding of the archaeological context of the Pictish and Ogham inscribed stone at Trusty’s Hill.  The Galloway Picts Project is a rare opportunity to make a real difference to understanding past identities in Galloway and the formation of identity in Scotland during the first millennium AD.

The project will form a major part of the 150th anniversary (2012) of the founding of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, which was instrumental in bringing about the previous excavation in the 1960s.  The Society is undertaking the excavation of Trusty Hill, between 19 May and 2 June 2012, and is inviting anyone who may be interested to take part.  See the flyer for more information.

Our project will be co-ordinated by members of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, in collaboration with a field survey team from the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments in Scotland, a laser scanning and stone conservation team from the Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation, specialists from the Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow University, the Archaeological Sciences Laboratory at the University of Bradford and Stirling Analyses for GeoArchaeology at Stirling University, and professional field archaeologists and finds experts from GUARD Archaeology Ltd.

We will provide a comprehensive and safe programme of training and education for community participants in advance of and throughout the programme of fieldwork, which will be undertaken to the highest standards.  Throughout the project, we will seek to enhance public awareness and understanding of this important archaeological site in South-west Scotland.

Forms are available for anyone wishing to volunteer.  One version is an Adobe pdf document which can be printed and returned to the President by post.  The other is a Microsoft Word document which can be completed by computer and returned to the President as an e-mail attachment.

Research Questions

The Galloway Picts Project seeks to answer the following questions:

  • Are the Pictish carvings genuine?
  • Is the Ogham inscription genuine?
  • Is the horned head geniune?
  • Were the inscriptions made using the same methodology?
  • What is the translation of the Ogham Inscription?
  • How does this translation relate to Ogham inscriptions elsewhere in the British Isles?
  • When did occupation of Trusty’s Hill begin and end?
  • Is there evidence to support Thomas’s sequence of a multi-phased settlement?
  • Is there any evidence, and if so, what is the nature and form of that evidence, to support contemporary occupation of Trusty’s Hill to the presumed date of the Pictish symbols and Ogham inscription (i.e. 5th-7th centuries AD)?
  • Is there any specific evidence for cultural activity by the occupants of Trusty’s Hill and what is the form and nature of that evidence?
  • Is there any uncontaminated environmental evidence from the rock-cut basin relevant to the occupation of the site? If so, what does this evidence demonstrate about the economic and environmental resources of the occupants?
  • How does the form of the occupation evidence relate to later prehistoric/early historic settlements in south-west Scotland, specifically the duration of occupation, the material culture of occupation and the nature of abandonment?
  • How does the evidence from Trusty’s Hill compare with specific local contemporary high status settlements (assuming mid 1st Mill AD) such as the Mote of Mark? Were both sites occupied at the same time? Is there any evidence of comparable access to high status goods and if not is there any evidence for why not? Were the ramparts vitrified at closely comparable dates?
  • How does the evidence from Trusty’s Hill compare and contrast with contemporary high status sites (assuming mid 1st Mill AD) further away, such as Dunadd and Edinburgh Castle, in terms of form and structure of settlement, material culture, date and duration of occupation, and nature of abandonment? Can comparable and contrasting patterns of settlement be identified?