The Royal Archaeological Institute (RAI) is a leading national archaeology society, with a history dating back to 1844. Its interests span all aspects of the archaeological, architectural and landscape history of the British Isles.

Through our annual publication of the Archaeological Journal and our programme of monthly lectures, we have a strong tradition of presenting archaeological research. We also give grants to enable research projects, host conferences and run specialist tours for our members to archaeological sites, historic buildings and landscapes.

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Forthcoming events

Archaeological Journal Volume 177
Sunday 31st January 2021

Owing to the pandemic, the publication of the Archaeological Journal (Volume 177) has been extremely delayed. Our publisher hopes that it will be dispatched in January 2021.

10 FEBRUARY Lecture by Professor Gordon Noble
Thursday 11th February 2021

Fortifying Rulership: The Emergence and Development of Pictish Power Centres in Northeast Scotland, c. 300-1000 AD (LIVE STREAM: Details will be sent to members closer to the date.)

One of the most significant changes visible in early medieval northern Britain was the re-emergence of fortified enclosures and settlements. As in Ireland and western England and Wales, the hillfort formed the material manifestation of power, a northern alternative (or addition) to the hall as symbol of more developed social hierarchies in a post-Roman context. In this talk I will outline the types of fortified sites that emerged in the early medieval period in northern Britain and explore some of the important roles they played in early medieval society, notably in terms of establishing and reinforcing new and emergent forms of elite society. The talk will focus on the Picts – first mentioned in the later 3rd century AD by late Roman writers, the Picts went on to become the dominant polity in northern Britain till the 9th century AD. At the height of Pictish cultural expansion, Pictish influence was felt across a remarkably large area that stretched from the Firth of Forth in the south to Orkney and Shetland in the north and from the east coast to the northern Hebrides in western Scotland. The talk will draw directly on the results of the University of Aberdeen Northern Picts and Leverhulme funded Comparative Kingship projects that have identified a whole series of hitherto unknown Pictish power centres and shed new light on long discussed, but poorly understood sites, helping reveal the pathways to power that Pictish rulers followed to create the powerful polities that dominated this region for over 600 years.

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