This Pictish stone was discovered back in February 2019 (see CA 357) by the North of Scotland Archaeological Society (NOSAS) at an early Christian church site near Conon Bridge, just to the south of Dingwall in the Easter Ross region of the Scottish Highlands. It dates to around 1,200 years ago, when the Picts were becoming Christianised. It is one of only about 50 complete or near-complete Pictish cross-slabs known, and the first to be discovered on the Scottish mainland for many years.
Since the stone’s removal from the site it has undergone conservation, including the creation of a 3D model in order to bring its carvings into sharper relief. Through this, some of the finer details can be better appreciated, including an animal-headed warrior with sword and shield, a double disc, a Z-rod symbol, and a large ornate Christian cross. The writing reflects the stone’s reuse as a gravemarker in the 18th century.Easter Ross is known to have had particular importance during the Pictish period. The first confirmed Pictish monastery was located just to the east, on the Tarbat Peninsula at Portmahomack (see CA 205 and 321), and several other examples of Pictish cross-slabs have been found nearby, including those at Nigg, Shandwick, Hilton, and Rosemarkie.
John Borland, President of the Pictish Arts Society, said: ‘Easter Ross is home to many fine Pictish sculptured stones and yet this latest discovery still manages to add something new and exciting to that collection. The two massive beasts that flank and surmount the cross are quite unlike anything found on any other Pictish stone.’
The stone is now housed at Dingwall Museum and, although COVID-19 restrictions mean that the museum currently remains closed, it has been placed prominently in a window so that it can be appreciated by passers-by.
Text: K Krakowka
Image: Historic Environment Scotland/Andy Hickie and NOSAS
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