We debated long and hard about where the Angus cache could be - what was the best way to showcase Angus? A fantastic walk along the coast, a trip up the Angus glens or somewhere in between where you could maybe see mountains and sea on a good day? In the end we decided on none of the above. We have chosen the site of the battle which was arguably the beginnings of Scotland as a nation and therefore the site where the whole quest began!
The fields in front of you are the accepted site of the battle of Nechtansmere (or Battle of Dunnichen) which was fought on 20th May 685AD where the Scottish Picts saw off the English Angles.
The Picts neighbours to the south were the Northumbrians or Angles, a powerful tribe who had established the kingdom of Bernicia. Always on the lookout to extend their power and enlarge their territory, the Northumbrians had advanced steadily northwards during the 7th century, successfully claiming the Lothians and setting their sights further north on the kingdom of Pictavia. Leading a large and powerful force, Egfrith marched into Pictavia in the spring of 685 and was drawn by the Pictish King, Bridei, towards Dunnichen in Angus. The Angles marched onto the land here where they were confronted by a group of Pictish scouts who slowed their advance. The main body of Picts then emerged from their hiding place on Dunnichen Hill and descended towards the Angles where they were slowed by the wet and marshy ground. Many of the Angles died including their King. And so the Picts won a great victory at the Battle of Dunnichen. Not only did the battle end Northumbrian domination of the Picts, but by curbing the Northumbrian expansion northwards, it created the foundations for the Scotland we know today.
The Battle of Dunnichen with its far-reaching consequences was an event of enormous significance for the Picts, and would have been recounted from one generation to another. Over a century after it took place, the Northumbrian historian, Bede, wrote an account of it.
'Egfrith, King of Northumbria, rashly led an army to ravage the province of the Picts. The enemy pretended to retreat, and lured the king into narrow mountain passes, where he was killed with the greater part of his forces...Many of the English at this time were killed, or forced to flee from Pictish territory.'Bede, AD 731.
The Picts too, left a record of the battle: not in writing but in stone. Standing like an ancient war memorial, the 8th century carved stone in the churchyard at Aberlemno in Angus, tells the story of the battle. The stone can be seen from May-September (it's boxed in to protect it from the worst weather October till April) at our Birth Of a Nation - The Storyteller cache
Remember to take a note of the bonus numbers for GC4PT3M Scotland The Quest - Bonus