Archeology on the Estate

Archeological Remains in Forteviot 

The significant archaeological remains that still survive in and around Forteviot Village. From a 3,000-year-old cemetery to the palace of a 9th century king

In 2009 the project revealed a c.3000-year-old cremation cemetery (a cemetery featuring multiple cremated remains) within the complex.

The complex includes a Neolithic palisaded enclosure totalling 265 meters in diameter enclosing approximately 15 acres (over 10 football fields).  Radiocarbon dating suggests that the enclosure would have be bound by a three to four-meter timber wall comprising large posts or whole tree trunks. Around and within this enclosure are three henges, a timber circle, curvilinear enclosures, and multiple pits. The fieldwork identified activity extending from the early 3rd millennium cal bc through to the Early Bronze Age, demonstrating that Forteviot endured as a place of ritual and commemoration for at least 1000 years (Brophy & Noble forthcoming).

The cremation cemetery is thought to have been of considerable importance to the emergence and development of the Forteviot monument complex – establishing a site which held special social and religious meaning. Scottish cremation cemeteries dating to the Neolithic period are incredibly rare. The site resonates with the place-making power of near-contemporary cremation cemeteries such as Stonehenge (Wiltshire), where a cemetery also marked the primary phase in development. Excavations suggest that the prehistoric complex was visible to the 9th century kings, who developed Foreviot in the first millennium ad into a major royal centre.

Burial Cist

In 2008, an Early Bronze Age Cist/burial chamber was discovered comprising five sandstone slabs set into a roughly rectangular box containing a hold-hilted bronze dagger currently on display in the Hunterian Museum Scottish Gold exhibition.  The exceptional conditions in the cist preserved the hilt (handle) of a sword revealing that the pommel was made from a sperm-whales tooth.

Royal Palace

Immediately to the north west of Forteviot is Haly Hill (or Holy Hill) the site of the royal place of the Picts where Kenneth Mac Alpin is believed to have died.  Haly Hill has been considerably undermined by the River May, and many portions of the palace have been destroyed.  However, Simon Lewis writes in a ‘A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland’ [Lewis.S.(2006) A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. London: Institute for Historical Research.] that numerous stones sculptured with antique figures, which were once part of the royal residence, can be found in several of the houses build in the parish. Unfortunately, he does not go into any further detail.

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