Iron Age Scotland from c. 800 BCE


Map Code: Ax01372

Ironworking appears to have reached Scotland with the Celts around 800 BCE, possibly arriving from Ireland. An eclectic range of habitations date to the period. Crannogs, conical dwellings built on wooden piled platforms over water (lochs and estuaries) were clustered in the Western Isles, Argyll and Galloway. Brochs, two-storey, hollow-walled towers or round-houses were common in the Orkneys (Gurness), Hebrides (Dun Carloway) and the northern mainland. Their purpose seems varied: they were either ‘border’ tribal defences or the ‘mini-castles’ of a chieftain set amidst a larger settlement. Hill-forts typified the east, such as Tap O’ Noth, Carrock Fell and Traprain Law, while Eildon Hill seemed to have had a ritual significance. Our records of the ancient tribes of Scotland are almost exclusively derived from the Geography of Claudius Ptolemy (c. 150 CE). From him, we learn the Epidii bred horse, the Careni sheep, and the Caledonii were red-haired, large-limbed and ferocious in battle.

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