The archaeological investigation of the site in 2012 demonstrates that Trusty’s Hill comprised a fortified citadel around the summit of a craggy hill with a number of lesser enclosures looping out along lower lying terraces and crags.
To build the strong timber-laced stone rampart around its summit and the stone enclosures on its lower slopes required an enormous amount of stone and wood, and workers too. This form of hillfort is recognised to be a type of hierarchical, high status secular settlement that emerged across Scotland during the post-Roman period.
The Galloway Picts Project in 2012 recovered sufficient archaeological evidence to show that the archaeological context for the Pictish carvings at Trusty’s Hill is a ritualised entranceway to a wealthy, fortified settlement where fine metalwork was crafted and probably given out as gifts, and foreign imports acquired.
The 2012 excavations discovered that the end of Trusty’s Hill took place sometime in the late sixth/early seventh century AD when the hillfort was captured by enemies and its timber-laced ramparts deliberately set alight and burned to such a degree that the rubble core of the rampart was vitrified. In this way Trusty’s Hill was laid waste, its hilltop ablaze for days, in an ominous and highly visible show of power.