New Discoveries Shed Light On Lost Kingdom Of The Dark Ages

Published January 23, 2017
Updated November 20, 2019

"The new archaeological evidence... enhances our perception of power, politics, economy and culture at a time when the foundations for the kingdoms of Scotland, England and Wales were being laid."

Lost Kingdom Of Rheged


Researchers have finally shed some new light on a lost kingdom of the Dark Ages.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence that the royal seat of the sixth-century kingdom of Rheged may have been in Galloway, Southern Scotland rather than Cumbria, Northwest England.

Ronan Toolis, who led the excavation works at Trusty’s Hill Fort at Gatehouse of Fleet, told the BBC that the lost kingdom was “pre-eminent among the kingdoms of the north” at its peak.

Many historians believed the Rheged kingdom placed its royal seat in Cumbria, but Christopher Bowles, co-director of the excavation work in Dumfries and Galloway, does not believe this was the case.

“The new archaeological evidence from Trusty’s Hill enhances our perception of power, politics, economy, and culture at a time when the foundations for the kingdoms of Scotland, England and Wales were being laid,” Bowles said. “The 2012 excavations show that Trusty’s Hill was likely the royal seat of Rheged, a kingdom that had Galloway as its heartland.”

The excavation found evidence that Galloway was a royal stronghold, one whose kingdom Bowles said “rippled through the history and literature of Scotland and beyond.”

“This was a place of religious, cultural and political innovation whose contribution to culture in Scotland has perhaps not been given due recognition,” he added.

Toolis, who is producing a book with Bowles reporting their findings, said that unique Pictish symbols carved on Trusty’s Hill bedrock drew them there. The carvings are typically found much farther north.

“The Galloway Picts Project was launched in 2012 to recover evidence for the archaeological context of these carving,” Toolis said. “But far from validating the existence of Galloway Picts, the archaeological context revealed by our excavation instead indicates the carvings relate to a royal stronghold and place of inauguration for the local Britons of Galloway around AD 600.”

More of the researchers’ findings are now available in their new book, The Lost Dark Age Kingdom of Rheged.

Next, have a look at five fascinating lost civilizations from around the world.

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.