Burghead Fort, Moray – Timeline


A view of Burghead chambered well from the approach.
By I, Calgacus, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2527534


Here is a rough timeline/outline of the forts story…..


Early Iron Age defences

Rumored to have been the Roman station of Castra Alata, later called PTOROTON.

3rd C             The main wall was constructed. Carbon 14 Dated to this period.

5th C             Possibly attacked (archaeological evidence).

6th-7th C      Refurbished.

830             Originally thought to have been built by Sigurd at this date.

839             Mentioned in the Annals of Ulster.

Sigurd Eysteinsson or Sigurd the Mighty, the 2nd Earl of Orkney, reigned c. 875–892, is believed to have docked his ship at the fort and his men refreshed there. He is also believed to have been buried at the fort.

9th C             A Norse incursion was recorded for the site.

9th C             Following: No evidence of occupation after this date.

1005-1034 Taken by the Danes during the reign of Malcolm II.

1040             According to McBeth King Duncan died at the site.

1805             During buildings works, stones with bull carvings were uncovered.

1809             Well uncovered.

1890’s          Mostly destroyed by town building works.

1966             Excavated.

1969             Excavated.

1977             Watching Brief.

2000             Watching Brief.

2002             Watching Brief. Evaluation.

2003             Excavated.

2005             Watching Brief.

2011             Watching Brief.

2012             Watching Brief.

2013             Geophysical Survey of site.

2015             Excavated – Northern Picts Project.

2015-2017  Atlas of Hillforts of Britain Project.

2016             Excavated.

2016             Watching Brief.

2017             Excavated.

2018             Evaluation.

2019             Watching Brief.


As you can see, we know more about the history of the archaeology of the site than we do about its ACTUAL history – but that is usually the way in sites like this!

For more information of the archaeology – click this link – https://fortified-britain.com/burghead-fort-moray-archaeology


The fort to the north of Burghead harbour.
By Des Colhoun, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13675217


References & Bibliography

Allison. H. G. Culloden Tales: Stories from Scotland’s Most Famous Battlefield. Random House.

Anderson. J. 2019. Scotland in Pagan Times; The Iron Age. Good Press.

Barrett. J., & Slater. A. 2009. New Excavations at the Brough of Deerness: Power and Religion in Viking Age Scotland. Journal of the North Atlantic, 2, pp. 81-94.

Blackwood. W. 1835. The New Statistical Account of Scotland. Volume VIII. William Blackwood and Sons.

Breeze. D. J. 1991. ‘Agricola in the Highlands?’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquities, Scotland, Vol. 120, 1990. P. 58.

Clarkson. T. 2012. The Picts: A History. Birlinn.

Cordiner. Rev. C. 1788. Antiquities and Scenery of the North of Scotland in a Series of Letters to Thomas Pennant, Esq.. Alex Smellie, Edinburgh.

Davidson. G. M. 1947. A Stone Flaking Site at Burghead, Morayshire. Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, 1947, NEW SERIES, Vol. 11 (1947), pp. 28-30.

Dunbavin. P. 1998. Picts and Ancient Britons: An Exploration of Pictish Origins. Third Millennium Publishing.

Ferguson. J. 1911. The Pictish Race and Kingdom. The Celtic Review, Feb., 1911, Vol. 7, No. 25 (Feb., 1911), pp. 18-36.

Foster. F. M. 2014. Picts, Gaels and Scots: Early Historic Scotland. Birlinn.

Harding. D. W. 2004. The Iron Age in Northern Britain: Celts and Romans, Natives and Invaders. Routledge.

Hudson. B. 2014. The Picts. John Wiley & Sons.

Jones. R. H., & Ralston. I. 2010. Artefacts and sites: A Long and Problematic Relationship. Scottish Archaeological Journal, 2010, Vol. 32, No. 1 (2010), pp. 1-13.

Keys. D. 2004. Rethinking the Picts. Archaeology, September/October 2004, Vol. 57, No. 5 (September/October 2004), pp. 40-44.

Konstam. A. 2013. Strongholds of the Picts: The Fortifications of Dark Age Scotland. Bloomsbury.

Lang. A. 2012. The History Of Scotland – Volume 1: From The Roman Occupation To Feudal Scotland. Jazzybee Verlag.

Macdonald. J. 1860. Burghead: Singular Custom: Clavie: Durie. Notes & Queries. Bell & Dowdy.

Macdonald. J. 1863. Historical Notices of “The Broch,” 0r Burghead, in Moray, With An Account Of Its Antiquities. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. IV, 1863, pp. 321-369.

Rhys. J. 2014. Celtic Britain. Cambridge University Press.

Skene. W. F. 1876. Celtic Scotland: A History of Ancient Alban, Volume 1. D. Douglas.

Steers. J. A. 1937. The Culbin Sands and Burghead Bay. The Geographical Journal, Dec., 1937, Vol. 90, No. 6 (Dec., 1937), pp. 498-523.

Taylor. C. 2015. On The Trail of the Real Macbeth: King of Alba. Luath Press.

Turnock. D. 2016. The Making of the Scottish Rural Landscape. Routledge.

Waldman. C., & Mason. C. 2006. Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Infobase Publishing.




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