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Trusty’s Hill and McCulloch Origins?

Recent archeological investigations have discovered what appear to be Pictish carvings on a vitrified hillfort just west of Gatehouse on Fleet, and north of Cardoness Castle. Trusty’s Hill contains “evidence of feasting and high-status metalworking at the site, and what has been interpreted as a constructed ceremonial processional route. Together these have led to speculation that the site might have been an important centre or location of royal inaugurations for a Brythonic kingdom centred in Galloway and South-West Scotland, circa 600 AD.”

Trusty’s Hill Pictish Stone, John Stuart sketch of 1856

Descendants of the McCulloch family may find the discoveries at Trusty’s Hill intriguing for a number of reasons. First, the hillfort is on traditional McCulloch of Ardwall lands. We don’t know the full extent of the lands held by our ancestors. However, Walter Jameson McCulloch speculates that when Sir Patrick McCulloch had forfeited lands restored in the early 14th century, it is likely that one half of the family lands were escheated to the Scottish crown. If so, the previous Galloway landholdings of the family would have been considerably more extensive.

The dating of the hillfort is also intriguing. Andrew Agnew, in Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway, suggests that the McCulloch family were an ancient “Pictish” family who took their name to honor a 6th century chieftain name “Gwallawc.” (Agnew also points out records for a Bishop MacKwollak in the mid 8th century). The latter chieftain was “Gwallog Marchog Trin” (meaning “battle horseman”). Gwallog ruled over the Kingdom of Elmet, part of the “Old North” (Hen Ogledd), in the 6th century. Gwallog fought along with King Urien of Rheged (Brythonic) against the advancing Angles of Bernicia.

There simply isn’t enough evidence to know whether the McCulloch’s took their name for Gwallog or what relationship they might have had with Trusty’s Hill. But anyone curious about the origins of the family should take interest in what future discoveries Trusty’s Hill might have to offer.