The Early Peoples of Galloway

CatStrand, New Galloway Saturday 5th September 2020.
10.00 – 17.00 (doors open 0930)
Tickets for the full day including lunch & coffee £30 (Students £20)

The Early Peoples of Galloway is a one-day conference studying the peoples who inhabited what is now Greater Galloway during the ten thousand years between the retreat of the glaciers and the year 1000 AD. Experts from a variety of fields will explore the story of these immigrants, their identities, cultures and languages and their impacts and legacies over successive centuries.


Changing Landscapes and Environments in Galloway
Richard Tipping: recently retired from the University of Stirling; environmental scientist, palaeo-ecologist and geo-archaeologist involved in exploring the evolution of Scotland’s landscapes. The varied landscapes of Galloway, far from being a mere ‘background’ to human activities, can be seen to have shaped what people can do. In turn, people have shaped their landscapes, particularly in the last 6000 years when we have farmed. This talk will review the evidence we have from scientific and archaeological analyses into Galloway’s changing environments and climates since the last ice age in contextualising the ways in which people have lived and worked.

The Mesolithic of Galloway: becoming ‘place’
Dr Dene Wright: Lithic specialist and Research Associate in Archaeology at the University of Glasgow
The hunter-gatherer-fishers of the Mesolithic period are the people first known to settle in Galloway; when ‘space’ became ‘place’. Firstly, this paper will cover in general terms the changing terrestrial environment during the period. Secondly, it will provide an analysis of the development of the known archaeological record, and highlight the lack of focus of research agendas for the Mesolithic period since the mid-1980s. Finally, case studies will consider dwellings and lithic assemblages of Galloway, and using analogy highlight aspects of material culture unknown in the archaeological record.

The Romans and their Legacy
Andrew Nicholson: Archaeologist, Dumfries and Galloway Council

The scale of Roman activity in the South West is demonstrated by the size of the marching camps and the evidence of sites such as the fort at Glenlochar near Castle Douglas and Burnswick in Dumfriesshire. But Roman influence did not end with their military retreat. The legacy can be detected for successive centuries, including the rekindling of Christianity.

Anglo-Saxons and the Old English language in early medieval Galloway
Dr David Parsons: Reader at the Centre for Welsh and Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth, and Director of the Survey of English Place-Names.

Texts, place-names and inscriptions provide evidence for the presence of Anglo-Saxons and their language in Galloway before the Norman Conquest. The Northumbrian monastery established c.700 at Whithorn is the familiar starting-point, but there is also new work on the region’s place-names to report and discuss, while the Galloway hoard, with its Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions, raises fascinating new questions about language and identity in the period.

Early Medieval Britons
Dr Ronan Toolis: GUARD Archaeology Ltd

The early medieval Britons are perhaps one of the least well understood peoples of Galloway with very little historical evidence to shed light upon them. But what about archaeological evidence? What has recent archaeological excavation revealed about these people, about the nature of their society and the contribution they made to Scottish culture?

Late antique Scotland The earliest Christians in Galloway
Dr Adrián Maldonado: Glenmorangie Research Fellow, National Museums Scotland

This paper will cover the evidence for the arrival of Christianity in south-west Scotland, in particular focusing on new research on Kirkmadrine and Whithorn. It is argued that the missionary model for conversion to Christianity is insufficient, and explores other archaeological evidence for contacts between this region and the late antique west. In doing so we must reconsider our notion of what we think early Christianity looks like, and how it might appear in ways that are not always restricted to a monastery.

Landscapes of the Galloway Hoard
Orla Craig: Graduate Student, University of Glasgow

The discovery of the Galloway Hoard in 2014 has given the opportunity to consider the history of medieval Galloway from a fresh perspective. This paper will discuss the results from the first year of a PhD project considering the archaeological, landscape and historical context of the Galloway Hoard, looking at the years 800-1100.

The World of the Galloway Hoard: The Northern Irish Sea in the Viking Age
Alex Woolf: St Andrews University

The discovery of the Galloway Hoard has renewed speculation about viking activity and Scandinavian Settlements in the region. In this paper I will review what we know about the region in the later ninth and early tenth centuries and how recent discoveries and ideas have modified views about Galloway and the Vikings.

Some of the titles and descriptions are provisional. The organisers reserve the right to amend the programme.

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The Early Peoples of Galloway