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PortmahomackMonastery of the Picts$
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Martin Carver

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748624416

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748624416.001.0001

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Ritual landscape, with portage

Ritual landscape, with portage

(p.173) Chapter 9 Ritual landscape, with portage

Martin Carver

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter describes the history of the Tarbat peninsula, where the Pictish monastery at Portmahomack was sited. The peninsula was once more nearly an island, and boats were towed across its isthmus, used as a portage (Gaelic tairbeart). The coast was used for burial from the Bronze Age into the Iron Age. The monastery grew rich and powerful in the 8th century and the whole peninsula was probably its estate. Grand cross slabs marked its landing places, at Nigg, Shandwick, Hilton of Cadboll and Portmahomack – each looking out onto a different area of sea. In the Middle Ages, even if the Pictish monastery had been forgotten after the Viking raid, a new Premonstratensian monastery was founded in the centre of the peninsula at Fearn. Tarbat also had a very large number of chapels and holy wells, witness to a tradition of hermits and seers.

Keywords:   Bronze Age, Iron Age, early medieval, medieval, burials, chapels, wells, portage

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