Carbon dating symbol

“In the last few decades there has been a growing consensus that the symbols on these stones are an early form of language and our recent excavations, and the dating of objects found close to the location of the stones, provides for the first time a much more secure chronology.

While others had suggested early origins for this system no direct scientific dating was available to support this.

The new excavations revealed that the stones probably came from the rampart of the fort and the dating of the site conclusively showed that the settlement was at its height in the third to fourth centuries AD.

Direct dating was also carried out on bone objects and settlement layers from sites in the Northern Isles.

Dr Hamilton said: “Bayesian modelling has revolutionised the world of radiocarbon dating, helping us to develop more refined chronological frameworks than was previously possible.

The statistical modelling of the dates from Pictland is beginning to set our understanding of this tradition on a more solid footing than ever before.” Click here to read the article “The development of the Pictish symbol system: inscribing identity beyond the edges of Empire” from Antiquity.

Each helium nucleus has two protons and two neutrons.

In older stars that have burned most of their hydrogen, leftover helium accumulates.When atoms bond, they share electrons in their outermost shell.Carbon has four empty spaces in its outer shell, enabling it to bond to four other atoms.This showed that a fort with Pictish symbol stones standing within a series of ramparts and palisades dated from the late fourth to early sixth century AD.Dr Martin Golderg of National Museums Scotland added, “Our new dating work suggests that the development of these Pictish symbols was much more closely aligned to the broader northern phenomenon of developing vernacular scripts, such as the runic system of Scandinavia and north Germany, than had been previously thought.

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