A pair of Pictish symbols carved on a rock at the Dark Age fortress on Trusty’s Hill in Galloway (6th-8th century AD). The horned head is graffiti from the Victorian era. Illustration from The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (1903).
Hiberno-Norse Penny, Anlaf Guthfrithsson (939-941), King of York, Raven Type, York mint, Athelferd moneyer
This is the finest known example of this rare issue. The obverse legend means ‘King Anlaf’ in Old Norse and is one of the earliest surviving texts in this language. The use of Old Norse language instead of Latin coupled with the raven image, associated with the Norse god Odin, is a strong indication that the Vikings were declaring their independence in the British Isles.
Anlaf Guthfrithsson was the Viking King of Dublin who fought in the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 alongside Constantine II and Owen I against Aethelstan, King of England. The infamous battle of the 10th Century was not a victorious campaign for Anlaf but he survived the conflict and successfully seized York and parts of the East Midlands in the aftermath of Aethelstan’s death in 939. The ‘Raven Penny’ was minted during this occupation.
The Lewis Chessmen, carved from walrus ivory and whales teeth (Belonging to a group of 78 pieces found at one site on the Isle of Lewis (Camas Uig) in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, 1831); 12th century, probably made by Viking craftsmen originating in Trondheim, Norway.
Nancy Marie Brown is writing novel about these pieces:
‘Largest’ Scottish ancient artworks revealed - A RETIRED silversmith has uncovered the largest collection of ancient rock art ever found in the Highlands on a remote hill overlooking the Cromarty Firth….pictured - One of the 28 cup marked stones found on Swordale Hill, Evanton, some of which measure 10ft across.
Images are from the Scottish Crannog Center in Kenmore, Loch Tay, Perthshire, Scotland, a museum of crannogs, “an ancient loch-dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland dating from 5,000 years ago. Many crannogs were built out in the water as defensive homesteads and represented symbols of power and wealth”.
The interior of the cabin has a raised bed for sleeping, it’s possible that animals had a sleeping place directly underneath, for added warmth. Bracken was used to insulate the sides of the crannog from wind. There was a central fire pit, but no chimney — an Iron Age visitor (Tacitus?) remarks about his visits to Celtic lands that their dwellings were extremely smoke-filled, and initially took some getting used to (but that the locals were quite used to it and didn’t notice)!
The last two images are reconstructions of log boats that were found around the crannog archaelogical dig site.
The Annals of Ulster, a rich source of information for events in medieval Scotland, note in laconic style tinder the year 1130, “a battle between the men of Scotland and the men of Moray, and in it four thousand of the men of Moray fell, including their king, Angus … .”(2) One hundred years later, a gruesome scene was played out at Forfar, where an infant girl, the last member of a family that had opposed the Scottish kings for over fifty years, was killed by having her head smashed on the market cross.(3) These events frame a century during which the kings of Scots descended from Malcolm III “Canmore” and his second wife, Queen Margaret (both d. 1093), faced persistent opposition from the remote and unassimilated northern fringes of their kingdom, especially the regions of Moray (a large and ill-defined area encompassing the lands around the Moray Firth, stretching from the Grampians to the western seaboard) and Ross (the province north of Moray, bounded by the River Oykel and the Dornoch Firth to the north and the shore of the Cromarty Firth to the south).(4) This paper deals with a hitherto largely neglected facet of medieval Scottish history: resistance to the so-called “Canmore dynasty” (Malcolm III and his descendants) from Moray and Ross between the early twelfth century and 1230. It begins by outlining the incidents of insurrection faced by the Scottish kings in this period, and then proceeds to analyze this resistance, paying particular attention to the leaders, timing, military aspects, and geographical context of opposition. The paper concludes by examining questions of regional identity in twelfth-century Scotland and reflects upon whether a strong sense of Moravian identity might have contributed to the tenacity of resistance.