Defining the sanctissimus

the early medieval church enclosures of Pictland

Gordon Noble (Author)

Leidy Laura Gonzalez Bojaca (Author)

Robin Worsman (Author)

James O’Driscoll (Author)

early church, vallum, Pictland, enclosure
early medieval


This article presents the results of a programme of investigation into vallum enclosures around known or suspected early Christian church sites in eastern Scotland. Survey and keyhole excavation results are reported on for four sites: Abersnithock, Aberdeenshire; Migvie, Aberdeenshire; Glamis, Angus; and Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross. At each site a combination of aerial survey, geophysics and evaluative excavation revealed rectilinear or curvilinear ditched enclosures centring on the position of the church, with radiocarbon dating showing these enclosures are of early medieval date. The significance of the church vallums are discussed, including their role as marking the sacred precincts of the early church and the significance of such large enclosures in the early medieval landscapes of Pictland. In addition to the early medieval results, the geophysical survey at Dunkeld revealed part of old Dunkeld town, which was burnt down and abandoned after the Battle of Dunkeld in 1689.


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How to Cite
Noble, G., Gonzalez Bojaca, L. L., Worsman, R., & O’Driscoll, J. (2024). Defining the sanctissimus: the early medieval church enclosures of Pictland. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 153.

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