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Archaeological site could be lost kingdom from the Dark Ages

The famed bard Taliesin wrote poems and songs about Urien, the powerful ruler of the lost kingdom of Rheged – a kingdom that may not be lost anymore.

Taliesin’s work was so popular that Urien and his son appear in Arthurian lore. According to the Arthurian version of Urien’s life, the ruler of Rheged and other northern kings rebelled against King Arthur. They became Arthur’s vassals when he defeated them in battle.

This version of Urien married one of King Arthur’s sisters – often Morgan le Fey – and had at least one son. Urien’s Arthurian son, like the eldest son in Taliesin’s tales, is named Owain.

Legends of the great king and his land have survived, but the location of Rheged did not.

A groundbreaking new archaeological find in Galloway may have solved the ancient mystery.

An excavation carried out in the region may have uncovered the 6th and 7th century seat of Rheged, archaeologists Ronan Toolis and Dr. Christopher Bowles said. Toolis led the excavation in the town Gatehouse of Fleet, located in Dumphries and Galloway in Scotland, with Bowles overseeing the work.

Artifacts uncovered by their team point to Trusty’s Hill, an ancient fort, being at the center of Scottish life in the Dark Ages. The newly discovered artifacts give every sign that the site was not just any fortress. It was a royal stronghold.

That makes it very likely the fort was once the center of Rheged, which was the most influential kingdom in the region at that time, Toolis and Bowles said.

The two didn’t expect to uncover the lost kingdom of Rheged when they set about their work. Instead, Pictish carvings drew them to the site. The carvings are unique to the region; Pictish stones are usually found much farther north.

The stones date back to around 600 C.E., they found. They appear to be linked to a Dark Ages kingdom located at the site, they said.

Bowles and Toolis had hoped to find evidence that Pictish people had once lived as far south as Galloway.

Instead, they believe they’ve found Rheged.

Toolis and Bowles published their findings in their new book, “The Lost Dark Age Kingdom of Rheged: the Discovery of a Royal Stronghold at Trusty’s Hill, Galloway.”

By Kyla Cathey / staff writer

Image credit: Dumfriesshire & Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian SocietyGUARD Archeology LTD

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