New TV documentary to highlight North-east archaeological finds

A new television documentary is set to showcase significant finds by archaeologists in the North-east.

Archaeologists and volunteers spent nine days digging through a field near Old Deer last year in a bid to uncover an ancient Pictish monastery – the birthplace of The Book of Deer.

The book, considered to be one of the most important texts showing the use of Scots Gaelic, is a gospel book written in Latin by Aberdeenshire monks around the tenth century.

It has been kept at Cambridge University library for the last 300 years.

Because of a shortage of writing materials at the time, the monks used blank spaces and margins of the book to record land transactions and other notes in Gaelic, dating back to the 12th Century.

It is the first written evidence of Scottish Gaelic that exists, and provides an interesting insight into the culture and society of the period.

Last year’s dig was the first to uncover finds which date back to a similar time as The Book of Deer.

The dig, commissioned by the Book of Deer Project, a small charity in Aberdeenshire, found a hearth containing charcoal, which dates back to between 1147 and 1260.

Other digs, which have taken place for the past 10 years, have discovered much older, or much more recent finds, but nothing as close to the writing of the book.

Bruce Mann, an archaeologist for Aberdeenshire Council, said: “This project has for many years worked hard to identify the location of the lost monastic site.

“These latest discoveries may at last hint that the mystery has finally been solved.

“More work obviously has to happen, but regardless of what this finally turns out to be, it is a significant find for not only Old Deer, but Aberdeenshire and beyond too.”

Air Toir Manachainn Dheir (The Lost Monastery of Deer) will be shown on BBC ALBA tonight at 9pm.