NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Steps to ancient hillfort well in Aberdeenshire uncovered

Aerial image of well on Mither Tap, Bennachie Image copyright Northern Picts/University of Aberdeen
Image caption The steps and the well are being seen for the first time since the site was first recorded in the 1800s

Archaeologists have revealed the steps to an ancient hillfort's well in Aberdeenshire.

The site on Mither Tap, a summit on Bennachie, a hill near Inverurie, was first recorded in the 1800s before being covered over.

University of Aberdeen's Northern Picts project said its excavation meant the steps could been seen for the first time in more than 200 years.

Archaeologists believe the steps could be 1,000 years old,

The fort could date to the Iron Age or early medieval period.

The Northern Picts project team said the fort was one of the "most impressive" in Scotland and resembled a Pictish fortification. It was constructed in phases.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bennachie is a hill in Aberdeenshire

Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and animal bone found during the excavation on Mither Tap should provide an accurate date for the major phases of the fort.

The results of the dating are expected to be known by the end of the year.

A 3D model of the steps and the well has also been created as part of the archaeologists' investigation of the site.

The Northern Picts project has been examining Pictish sites in an area of Scotland from Easter Ross in the Highlands to Aberdeenshire since 2012.

Image copyright Northern Picts/University of Aberdeen
Image caption A 3D model of the steps and the well has been created
Image copyright Northern Picts/University of Aberdeen
Image caption The steps to the well could be 1,000 years old

Many academics agree the Picts were descended from indigenous Iron Age people of northern Scotland, and the term "Picti" was likely to have been a nickname the Romans used to describe communities north of Hadrian's Wall.

The Picts created intricately decorated standing stones and also constructed impressive hill forts to defend themselves against rival tribes and invaders.

They battled against the Romans, Angles and the Vikings.