In the last issue of the Wee Vine we reported on the success of the archaeological dig held at the end of May when two Stone Age objects had been identified and we awaited the result of radiocarbon dating being carried out on a small piece of charcoal found in one of the trenches.
We now have that result, and that tiny piece of charcoal has now been confirmed as dating from around 983AD. This is very exciting news as it confirms activity at the Keir Hill at the time when Kenneth II of Scotland (Alba) was invading Strathclyde, the kingdom south of the River Forth.
Keir Hill of Dasher overlooks the Fords of Frew, which was one of the key strategic routes across the Forth Valley and which for millennia has acted as a funnel restricting movement of people and goods. The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, which was written in Kenneth II’s time, records that in the late 10th century he fortified the banks of the uada of Forthin, which is generally taken to be the Fords of Frew (Watson 1926, 52-3). The Chronicle also states that he plundered Northumbria (which at that time extended as far north as the Forth) several times, reaching as far south as Cheshire. Coincidentally, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records attacks on Chester around 980AD.
It is of course all very tenuous; for example, we don’t know whether, by fortifying the Fords of Frew, Kenneth was defending his northern territories from raids from the south, or perhaps Strathclyde from further raids from the north, and we probably will never know but, whatever the answer, the dig has uncovered yet another aspect of Kippen’s early history. Kippen Heritage intend to continue the investigation with another dig planned for May next year.
Irene Chapman for Kippen Heritage
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