Dumfries Museum

Activity Sheet

The Dark Ages Trail

The time before people kept written records is pre-history. The different ages of pre-history can be divided by the material which was used to make tools and weapons, the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. Recorded history begins with the Roman invasion during the first Century AD, but throughout the Roman occupation the native Celtic culture survived. After the Romans left the history of our area becomes obscure, we enter the Dark Ages....

dark. 1. a obscure, mysterious, secret 2. n lack of knowledge; in the ~ , lacking information 3. D~ Ages, Middle Ages, esp. 5th - 10th c., (fig) period of unenlightenment

Begin in the Windmill tower. Go down the stairs into the room called Sacred Stones
To discover more about the Celts go to the main hall of the museum and find the case called The Celts.Now go to the case called The First Christians.
The Celtic people had their own religion. They worshipped severed heads which they belived would protect their homes and ensure good luck and success. Their custom of hanging severed heads from trees in sacred groves gives us the tradition of decorating Christmas trees!

Can you find the 3 severed heads of stone? The one from Birrens, Middlebie may be of the Celtic goddess_ _ _ _ _ _ or _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
The first Christians to live in Scotland settled in Dumfries and Galloway around 400 AD. This new religion used the cross as an image. It was carved on stones, like the simple gravestone from Ruthwell Churchyard. Can you find it?
The stones to the right comes from Ardwell Island, in Fleet Bay, Borgue and dates from 700 AD when a Christian community lived there. it has a person's name carved on it as well as a cross.
The name is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and means Fortunate Spear.
As the Christians' influence became more powerful, their stone crosses became more elaborately carved. Find the cross shaft from Closeburn Minster dating from the 10th Century. it is decorated with intricate patterns called interlace
showing a _ _ _ _, a _ _ _ _ _ and a _ _ _ _ catching a _ _ _ _.

Can you see the animal symbols?
Celtic peoples first came to Dumfries and Galloway around 2,700 years ago. They were farmers and lived in tribes ruled by clan leaders. They brought with them an important new skill - they could make their tools and weapons from _ _ _ _ .
Find the horsetrappings from Birrens, Middlebie. These are the metal parts from pony bridles and harness. ponies were highly valued in Celtic society and horsetrappings were often beautifully decorated. After the Romans occupied Dumfries and Galloway around 80 AD some Celts joined the Roman Army. They fought in small carts called _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ which were pulled by two ponies.
The Celts were very interested in their personal appearance, decorating their bodies and wearing jewellery of jet, bronze and coloured glass. Can you see each of these materials in the case? They even had mirrors like the one found at _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
Can you see the model of a Celtic house? This was built on an artificial island made from logs and stones in Milton Loch, Urr. it is called a _ _ _ _ _ _ _. These island dwellings were easily defended from attack. Homes like this were lived in throughout the Dark Ages and up until the 17th Century.
Look closely at the model and see how the people who lived on the island travelled. on your left are examples of simple boats made by shaping a single tree trunk.
these are called _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _.
In spring the Celtic people planted barley and oats. Can you find the wooden plough from Lochmaben. It is made from a single trunk of an Alder tree, and was pulled by two cattle.
It is called an _ _ _.
By 200 AD the Romans gave up their occupation of Dumfries and Galloway and by 400 AD they had left the area altogether. During these Centuries Scottish Christianity began in Galloway. It was this Christian community's need for a bishop which brought St Ninian to the area some time after 400 AD. At this time Dumfries and Galloway was part of the Celtic kingdom of _ _ _ _ _ _.
Can you find another Celtic stone head in the case? It dates from 600 AD and shows that the pre-Christian Celtic religion survived well into the Dark Ages it is on a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ from Collin Torthorwald.
You can also see simple crosses carved in stone by the early Christians in this case. They come from the same island as the stone carved with Cuthgar's name in the Sacred Stones room. Fortunate Spear was buried on _ _ _ _ _ _ Island in Fleet Bay, Borgue.
Can you see the gold brooch with filigree decoration? It dates from 700 AD and was found at the site of a hill fort, where people had lived since the Iron Age called _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _. Look at the photograph and you will see how the shape of the hilltop gave the fort natural defences. Local legend claims that this is the home of a ghostly headless horseman!
By 700 AD Dumfries and Galloway came under the control of the kingdom of Northumbria. The Angles of Northumbria were Christian like the Celts but they suppressed the Celtic Church. A new style of art florished during their rule. Find the bronze gilt plaque from Upper Rerrick Farm, Rerrick. The decoration shows two interlaced animals and resembles work from the most famous example of Northumbrian art, the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Gospels. Can you see both animals?
The power of the kingdom of Northumbria collapsed by 1000 AD. Now new groups of people moved into Dumfries and Galloway. Some were Norse and came originally from Scandinavia. The axe from Kirkblane, Caerlaverock dates from 1050 AD and shows the influence of these Norse or _ _ _ _ _ _ incomers.
It was at this time that Gaelic speaking people crossed from Ireland. They were the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ or foreign Gaels who gave the kingdom of Galloway its name

this is to certify that (Name)................................................................................
Of (Address or School).........................................................................................
......................................................................................................................................
Completed the Dark Ages Trail at Dumfries Museum on (Date)..........