Discovering the Picts | Warriors, Kings and Artists

National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland
Aberlemno Pictish stones
Aberlemno Pictish stones
Ancient Pictish stone in Elgin Cathedral Graveyard
Ancient Pictish stone in Elgin Cathedral Graveyard
View of St Andrews Cathedral
View of St Andrews Cathedral
Aberlemno Pictish stones
Aberlemno Pictish stones
View of Edinburgh
View of Edinburgh
Cairngorm National Park
Cairngorm National Park
View of St Andrews
View of St Andrews
Burghead harbour
Burghead harbour
Elgin Cathedral
Elgin Cathedral
Beach view in Portmahomack
Beach view in Portmahomack

The Picts were long considered to be a mysterious lost people from a very dark age, to the extent that entirely erroneous origin myths were created for them in recent centuries. This tour will explore how, even though they left behind no surviving documents, the Picts helped lay the foundation of modern Scotland. Get insights into the most recent developments in Pictish archaeology, which revolutionise our understanding of the Picts and their kingdoms, from the time of the Romans until the disappearance of their distinctive culture by 900AD within the emergent Gaelic kingdom of Alba, in the company of our expert guide, Peter Yeoman.

  • View the important Pictish collection in the National Museum of Scotland
  • Explore masterpieces of Pictish carving such as the Dupplin Cross
  • Experience almost all the finest monumental Christian sculptures produced by the Picts
  • Wander around the Pictish promontory at Burghead
  • Enjoy a scenic train ride from Inverness to Edinburgh

Themes

  • Medieval

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We meet at our hotel in Edinburgh in the afternoon. Here, we will enjoy an introductory lecture before dinner.

Hotel: Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

Our day starts with a visit to the National Museum of Scotland. Here, we will get a close look at the Picts' love of silver, spectacular objects and jewellery. We will also see the Hilton of Cadboll cross slab, standing almost 8ft tall and weighing 2 tonnes, which originally stood in the sacred land of the northern Picts near their Columban monastery at Portmahomack. After lunch, we journey to St Andrews. In this wonderful medieval city we will inspect the 8th century sarcophagus, which would have befitted the remains of a Roman emperor probably created for the remains of King Oengus who died in 761, possible founder of the monastery - this masterpiece may have been created to glorify the newly arrived relics of an apostle of Christ. We head on to our next hotel in Dundee.

Hotel: Apex City Quay Hotel, Dundee
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

This morning will be spent in the McManus Gallery, housed in a magnificent Victorian building to view the Pictish collection. We will confront facial reconstructions of excavated Picts, including a man who had been decapitated and then afforded a high status burial. After a short drive, we stop at the Eassie Cross slab. In the afternoon, we will explore the Meffan Museum in Forfar to see more of the stone carvers' art of the southern Picts.

Hotel: Apex City Quay Hotel, Dundee
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

Today we journey to Angus to visit St Vigeans Sculptured Stones and Museum. An outstanding collection is gathered here from the Pictish royal monastery. We return to Dundee, where we spend the afternoon in the new V&A – Scotland’s first design museum.

Hotel: Apex City Quay Hotel, Dundee
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

Leaving Dundee this morning, we drive to nearby Perth. Here, we visit the Perth Museum and Art Gallery. On to visit the lovely Perthshire town of Dunning to see the fabulous freestanding Dupplin Cross, erected in memory of the mighty Pictish king Constantine who died in 820 – possibly nearby at the royal palace of Forteviot. We then enjoy a scenic drive through Aviemore Cairngorm National Park towards the Inverness area. In the afternoon, we visit Craig Phadrig, an important royal fort where St. Columba was honoured by the pagan King Bridei.

Hotel: The Mansefield Hotel, Elgin
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

In the morning, we visit the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery to see the collection of archaeological artefacts of the Highlands. On to Sueno’s Stone, the tallest early medieval sculpture in Scotland with a complex narrative depiction of a battle. In the afternoon, we spend time exploring a Pictish promontory, Burghead, a chief royal fort of the northern Picts on the Moray Firth, where recent excavations have confirmed this identification. We drive to Elgin. In the local museum we see an extensive collection of archaeological finds from the area with a significant assemblage of carved stones.

Hotel: The Mansefield Hotel, Elgin
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

On our last morning we journey to Portmahomack to spend time at the Tarbat Discovery Centre. The great Pictish monastery was dedicated to Columba and the subject of a devastating Viking raid around 800. Here, we will experience the site of the monastery as well as spectacular decorated cross slabs marking the boundaries of this rich ecclesiastical estate - including the Hilton of Cadboll cross we saw at the start of the tour in Edinburgh, completing the circle of our discovery of the mighty Picts. After lunch, it is time to board our train back to Edinburgh and enjoy a scenic drive through the Scottish landscape.

Meals: Breakfast & lunch included

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels

Travel Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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Book now

To book your tour without flights from the US, please call our team on 888 331 3476

2019 Tour Details

Sun 14th July - Sat 20th July

Available

$2,995

without flights

sgl supp: $565

PIC19A

Led By: Peter Yeoman

Guide Lecturer

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