5.5.3 Conflict

Iron weapons are rare finds on Iron Age settlements, an example being the possible sword or dagger tip from the Black Spout (Strachan 2013, 45–6; Case Study The Black Spout). The evidence for iron weapons largely comprises component parts; rare and impressive Celtic metalwork from Perth and Kinross includes northerly examples of sword fittings. Perth Museum holds a hilt guard and pommel of a sword (Perth registration number 1350; MPK3353) that belongs to Piggott’s group IV (Piggott 1950; MacGregor 1976, nos 159–60; Hunter 2006, 154–5, Illus 19a). The distribution of these swords and fittings is largely confined to northern England and southern Scotland, as stray finds, and from forts and military contexts (MacGregor 1976, 79–83). Unfortunately, the findspot of the hilt guard and pommel are unknown but are presumed to be local. We have greater precision with the iron and cast bronze sword of Piggot’s Group IVA, found during excavation of Fendoch Roman fort (Richmond et al 1939, 146–7, pl. LX.1; Piggott 1950, 20–1, fig. 11.4; MacGregor 1976, no. 146; NMS registration number FR 536) and the metal-detected bronze cross-guard from a hilt at Spittalfield, Caputh, probably 1st/2nd century AD in date (Perth Museum registration number 2015.118). The Fendoch sword, found in the foundations of the fort’s Principia, is interpreted as having belonged to an auxiliary soldier. Given the context of the nearby legionary fortress at Inchtuthil, the same may be true of the piece from Spittalfield, though the promontory fort at Inchtuthil could also indicate indigenous ownership. 

Narrow horizontal picture of a degraded, rusted sword on a white/grey background. The sword is recognisable with a long blade and thin handle, but is black and dark grey and an uneven surface due to erosion.
Fendoch sword ©️ SCRAN/NMS
Aerial photograph of hills covered in snow. A clear circle can be seen as a cropmark or shallow structure.
Aerial photograph of a small watch tower at the mouth of the Sma’ Glen, Perthshire ©️ Colin Martin