Archaeology & History


Visit to HMS Unicorn

On 9th May we visited the frigate HMS Unicorn in Dundee. Built in the 1820s, but then mothballed, it found itself superseded by steel vessels by the time war next broke out. Fortunately, the ship survived thanks to its later role as a training ship. Today it provides a fascinating picture of life aboard a frigate in the early 19th century. Here is just one extraordinary fact of the many we gleaned: children were employed on the lower deck to carry ammunition in battle because they were small enough to move without stooping! 

If you have never seen the Unicorn, you are advised to visit it soon, as a major refurbishment is planned over a number of years.


Visit to Scottish Crannog Centre 

On 20th April eighteen of us visited the newly opened Scottish Crannog Centre on the north side of Loch Tay. The museum and craft presentations proved so fascinating that many lingered for more than four hours and it is evident that we shall be returning before long. The crannog itself is to be built within the next year – rather faster than last time, thanks to the experience gained then.

The overall impression of life in the crannog was of unrelenting toil, whether grinding grain,  making textiles or hammering iron. Would there have been puppet shows like the one that so amused us? We cannot know, but the point was that people then would have told stories, much as we do.

Are We Nearly There Yet?

Credit: Bruce Keith

On 13th March Bruce Keith, author of ‘Bridgescapes”, gave us another sparkling talk, this time on Scottish milestones, from Roman times until the present day. On the way he told us about the pioneers of mapping; travellers of the 18th and 19th centuries; the removal of milestones and signposts to bamboozle invaders in World War II – an unfortunate loss of part of our heritage – and so much more…

The Stirling Castle Project Revisited

Credit: Nostalgia on Unsplas

On Wednesday 14th February John Harrison, writer of the book on the Stirling Castle Project told us about new discoveries regarding protocol at the Court, particularly in relation to the dining arrangements.

The Environmental History of the Tay

On Wednesday 17th January Professor Richard Oram spoke about his recently completed two-year project on the environmental history of the Tay, from the arrival of the first hunter-gatherers until the present day. This was an inspiring overview of the mass of material he is about to transform into a series of books. His gallop through the ages revealed a host of fascinating details, not least that the elites’ monopoly of the hunting forests, however unjust, tended to ensure their preservation. Above all we learned how greatly humans have altered the landscape and the river since earliest times and how seemingly untouched rural spots may be sullied by industrial pollution. 

As a policy advisor, Professor Oram is well placed to ensure the lessons of history inform current decision-making.


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A & H winter programme 2023-24

To see the programme click on the link: A&H poster 2023:24 updated

HTT/PSNS Historical Map of Perth Project

The PSNS in partnership with the Historic Towns Trust is preparing a historical town map of Perth, highlighting sites of historical significance. For press coverage, see Any contributors requiring access to resources held on Cloud, please contact J. Jessop. 

For more information about A&H activities contact the section secretary, Percy Shelley, at We welcome visitors and new members.

The Neolithic Standing Stone at Murrayshall near Scone.

The Archaeological and Historical Section of the PSNS was founded in 1948 under the guidance of Dr Margaret Stewart, a very notable and distinguished local archaeologist. In the early years, the section carried out and published important excavations and surveys under her guidance, and she also organised courses and seminars to share her skills and knowledge with the section. Accounts of her excavations appeared in specialist journals such as Discovery & Excavation in Scotland.

Members of the section are still involved in occasional excavations and surveys under the guidance of professional organisations, but our main activities are a monthly lecture series during the winter, and excursions to monuments, historic buildings and excavations, generally in the summer. We have close links with Archaeology Scotland, Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee and various professional and voluntary organisations. Over the years, as well as contributing papers to the Society’s journal, the Section has issued several important complete publications:

The following booklet by Dr Margaret Stewart describes an abandoned farmstead, Allt Lochan Nan Losgunn, near Queen’s View (Tay Forest Park) that was excavated in 1972 & 1974 (not a PSNS publication, reproduced by courtesy of Scottish Forestry).

All regular indoor meetings are held are held on Wednesdays at 7.30pm in the Soutar Theatre, AK Bell Library, York Place, Perth PH2 8EP. Evenings conclude over tea and coffee.

Recorded Talks

Occasional newsletters of the Section

AGM and other papers circulated to Section members