Peebles EH45 8AU
Heading for the hills with Peeblesshire Archaeological Society!
Cademuir, Janet’s Brae, White Meldon, Milkieston Hill, to name but a few: you only have to glance at the Ordnance Survey map to see that many of our local hilltops are associated with the word ‘Fort’ in the distinctive Gothic lettering which denotes an antiquity. On Thursday 18 January, Strat Halliday, one of Scotland’s leading field archaeologists, will give an illustrated talk on ‘Forts and fortification: regional patterns in the Scottish Iron Age’ – presenting an opportunity to learn how our Peeblesshire forts can be placed within a local and national context in the light of recent research. As usual, our meeting will start at 7.30pm and will be held in the Community Centre, Walkershaugh, Peebles – and as ever, new members will be very welcome.
Strat will show how Peeblesshire has played an important part in the study of Iron Age hillforts in Scotland, being the first county to be studied at the end of the 19th century by the pioneering antiquary, Dr David Christison. The pattern that he established in his great survey published in 1898 has provided the cornerstone to every distribution published since, and has been only truly superceded at a national scale with the publication in 2017 of the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland, https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk/.
Four years in the making, the Atlas is the most complete dataset on hillforts ever assembled and allows us to examine this key monument of the Iron Age landscape at both national and local scales. Strat’s talk will not only discuss the problems of defining forts in general, but also examine the Peeblesshire examples in particular, setting them in their local and national contexts.
After graduating from Cardiff University and a spell of fieldwork based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Strat was appointed a team member of a project set up in 1977 to undertake rapid surveys across Scotland. In 1981, that project was absorbed into the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland. Thereafter Strat variously served as a Field Investigator and Project Manager for RCAHMS, latterly directing its archaeological survey programme. On leaving RCAHMS, he was recruited to the team of researchers working on the Atlas of Hillforts Project, under the direction of Professors Gary Lock (Oxford University) and Ian Ralston (Edinburgh University).
Having started out as a Border Counties prehistorian based in Northumberland, Strat tells us that his work for the Atlas of Hillforts project was in some senses a return to his roots in archaeology, presenting, as it did, an ideal opportunity to get to grips with the problems of the defended settlements which are such a remarkable feature of our stunning Borders landscapes.
Trevor Cowie Chairman, Peeblesshire Archaeological Society