Serving new masters

Martin Carver

in Portmahomack

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780748624416
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670703 | DOI:
Serving new masters

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  • History and Theory of Archaeology


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In about 800 AD the monastery of Portmahomack was attacked in a Viking raid. The vellum workshops were incinerated and Christian sculpture broken up with sledge hammers. Several monks were found to have died from blade wounds. Then, curiously, the northern workshops revived, but now as a metal-working area. The same techniques were employed as before, with moulds and crucibles, but the smiths were now making more secular objects. These events are placed in the history of the area: the Norse conquest and domination of Orkney and Caithness; their struggle against the men of Ross and Moray and the triumph of MacBeth the Christian Scottish leader. The new masters were most likely the Scots of Moray, who held the Moray Firth against the Norse invaders for a century or more.

Keywords: Viking raid; metal-workers; MacBeth

Chapter.  5694 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History and Theory of Archaeology

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