The Picts were an artistically brilliant people and a nation of great warriors who occupied the eastern part of north Britain around AD 300–900. They were exposed to Christian missions from the sixth century onwards and by the eighth century they were the dominant force in Scotland, ruling from Orkney to the Forth until the arrival of the Vikings and the disappearance of the Picts into a new kingdom of Scots. Yet their symbol stones are still alive with scenes of hunting and music, battle and court. Their characteristic ‘pit’ names remain and their great forts at Dundurn, Dunnottar and Burghead dominate the surrounding country.
Of all the people who built Scotland, none has such deep roots in the prehistory of the land, and none has left such an individual legacy in the form of the symbol stones: the surviving testimony of their ancestry and belief.
Surviving in Symbolsis part of a newly updated edition of the acclaimed Making of Scotland series produced by Historic Scotland and Birlinn which provides lively, accessible and up-to-date introductions to key themes and periods in Scottish history and prehistory. (pb)