Dumfries and Galloway is virtually ‘littered’ with ancient carved stones, and there are more to discover than the better-known cup and ring marked stones.
The Merlin Trail encompasses the earliest inscribed Christian monuments in Scotland at Kirkmadrine – (dating from about 450AD) as well as the intriguing Pictish stone carvings at Trusty’s Hill [main image] which suggest the beginnings of a cross-cultural exchange, and the carved stone of the Ruthwell Cross (dating from the late 7th century).
Here we will take a taste of Trusty’s Hill. Look out for future articles about Kirkmadrine and the Ruthwell Cross.
The Trusty’s Hill site is protected by law as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is of National significance. It sits to the south west of Gatehouse of Fleet, in the Fleet Valley National Scenic Area, amongst the Boreland Hills. It is unique amongst Galloway’s many hillforts for it’s intriguing Dark Age Pictish stone carvings, when South West Scotland was inhabited by people more usually described as Britons, not Picts.
Have a read of our Rheged Page to discover lots more about Trusty’s Hill in depth.
Watch our short video [below] for an idea of location of both the hill fort in the landscape, and the stone carvings in the exposed bedrock at the entrance.
Trusty’s hill is described as being “defined by a vitrified stone rampart around it summit, an outer bank and rock-cut ditch on its northern side and a series of lesser outer ramparts on its southern side” by The Galloway Picts Project, whose work on Trusty’s Hill and the Pictish stone carvings have brought new knowledge about Galloway’s role in how medieval Scotland was formed, and re-drew the map of early medieval Britain).
Galloway Picts Project logo designed from the stone carvings at Trusty’s Hill – a z-rod and double disc.
The Pictish symbols
The Pictish symbols are carved into the exposed bedrock at the entrance passage to the fort and are protected by iron railings. They comprise a double disc and Z-rod and a ‘fish monster’ or ‘water beast’ and ‘sword’. While the Z-rod and double disc are common Pictish carvings, the monstrous sea-beast and the sword are unique.
Why they are here can only be speculated. It is the only place in Galloway where the Picts have left a recognisable mark. One theory is that, being so far from Pictland, they are the marks of a Pictish raiding party. Read our Rheged page for more.
Roe Deer taken from Trusty’s Hill
View from Trustys Hill towards Rutherford Monument (you can extend your walk to take in the monument)
Trusty’s Hill landscape
Other sites for your interest:
canmore.org.uk/site/trustys-hill – annotated illustrations of Trusty’s Hill and the stone carvings
sketchfab.com/ScottishRockArt/collections/dumfries-and-galloway – 3D images of carved stones in Dumfries and Galloway
www.carvedstones.scot/ – independent body set up to understand and address the issues affecting carved rocks in Scotland.
Do send us photos of your visit to Trusty’s Hill (or from any location on the Merlin Trail!) – we’d love to feature them in our Gallery!