This Carving Is Helping Archaeologists Unravel the Secrets of Ancient Scottish Warriors
by Brigit Katz/Smithsonianmag.com
In 2017, road workers in Perth, Scotland, stumbled upon a hulking stone lying about three feet belowground. Etched with the outline of a human figure carrying a spear, the ancient carving was faint, leading experts to use high-tech methods like 3-D imaging and photogrammetry to recreate it.
Now, writing in the journal Antiquity, researchers have revealed new details about the mysterious figure—including, among other things, his “pronounced” buttocks and “robust” torso.
Known as the “Tulloch Stone” in a nod to the area where it was found, the monolith dates to the first millennium A.D., when northern and eastern Scotland were occupied by the Picts, a confederation of tribes perhaps best known for their bitter conflicts with the Romans. The Picts left behind hundreds of still-mysterious monumental stones engraved with depictions of humans and animals, as well as abstract and geometric symbols.
In the case of the Tulloch Stone, the figure depicted is clearly a warrior. His spear boasts a kite-shaped blade and what the study’s authors deem a “doorknob-style butt.”
The shape of his head is crested, which the study says “probably indicates an elaborate hairstyle rather than a helmet or other headgear.” Lines across the warrior’s ankles