The final lecture in the 2011/2012 season of the Pictish Arts Society will be given at Pictavia, near Brechin, by Dr Oliver O’Grady on Friday, March 16
Dr O’Grady’s experience as an archaeologist has covered a wide range of roles including stints in local authority planning, commercial geophysics, the heritage sector and the Historic Land-use Assessment team of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.
He acquired degrees in Medieval history and archaeology at the University of Glasgow, where he attained a PhD, completing the first national study of Scotland’s earliest legal meeting places.
His long-standing interest in medieval central places and the role of the early church therein, have led to well publicised projects at Royal Scone.
Now working as a heritage consultant and independent researcher based in Perth, his talk explores the initial findings from his latest project, which has been investigating the role of lesser known early Christian monasteries in southern Pictland.
The title of his talk is: “Yew make me feel so young: The latest from Pictish Fortingall.”
As part of his wider study of the archaeology of early Pictish and Gaelic monasteries in mainland Scotland, funded by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Dr O’Grady believes he has found an important royal monastery dating from the time when the Picts were converting to Christianity more than 1,300 years ago.
The site is at Fortingall, in Highland Perthshire, where volunteers from the local Breadalbane Heritage Society joined forces with Dr O’Grady last summer to investigate crop marks forming a circular boundary around the village.
Two exploratory trenches revealed the remains of a wide bank that may once have stood as high as two metres, faced with large upright stones. Dr O’Grady believes that the bank was built to enclose a vallum monastery, which would make it a very early site, dating from somewhere between the 6th and the 8th centuries AD.
Doors open at Pictavia at 7 pm for a 7.30 pm start. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available. The talk is free to members and £2.50 to non-members.