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University of Aberdeen research on the Picts to feature on two new TV shows

The University of Aberdeen Archaeology Department’s efforts to unveil the history of the Picts have earned them a place on the shortlist for a highly esteemed book award and will see their work showcased in two upcoming television 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 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.

The Picts have long been considered an enigmatic group, leaving behind scant evidence of their existence apart from their distinctive carved stones. In ancient times, they were perceived as a ‘barbaric’ and war-oriented society.

However, recent research conducted by archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen, as part of the Northern Picts and Leverhulme-funded Comparative Kingship projects, has unveiled a completely different understanding of the early communities in northern Britain known as the ‘Picti’ or ‘Painted Ones’ by the Romans.

The Picts were first mentioned around AD 300, and in the 4th century, they resisted the might of the Roman Empire, only to vanish by the end of the first millennium AD. Their influence laid the groundwork for the medieval Scottish kingdom, and Professor Noble and his team’s investigation has yielded crucial new insights into the culture of this remarkably sophisticated society.

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”

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of and is also the editor of other online publications covering military history, defence and security. Neil has a keen interest in the military history of Scotland and in particular the military history of the Jacobite risings.

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