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Pictish Symbol Stones

Pictish Symbols - click on image to see bigger sizeAberdeenshire formed one of the heartlands of the northern Picts between the fourth and ninth centuries AD.

View site locations

The Picts are known chiefly for their elaborately but regularly decorated memorial stones found in profusion throughout eastern Scotland from Shetland to the Firth of Forth. However, much more is actually known about them than that.

Society

Militaristic and aristocratic, their society had several grades, including cavalry and footmen, a peasantry, part of whom was bonded to the land, all ruled by tribal chiefs and kings. The origins of this society lie in the Celtic Iron Age of the area.

Symbol Stones

The symbol stones are decorated in a structured way with a series of animal and object symbols current in late Roman Iron Age times (third/fourth centuries AD) - mirrors, combs, cauldrons, geese, hounds, etc.

5th - 7th Century

They were erected from perhaps as early as the fifth century AD but were chiefly in use in the sixth and seventh centuries. The early series consist of untreated boulders with the decoration incised on the surface. (Picardy Stone; Kintore Kirkyard; Crichie; Brandsbutt).

7th - 8th Century

In the seventh or eighth centuries, simple cross-incised stones which were most likely grave-markers, indicate the arrival of Christianity in Aberdeenshire (eg Tullich). A later series of symbol stones, dating from the eighth centuries, are more finished, being carved in relief on treated slabs, with, on one face, a cross, perhaps for use as part of a preaching site (eg Maiden Stone; Migvie).

9th Century

There is also a series of later (ninth century) monuments, without symbols, in which the cross is the sole decoration (Kinord).

Inscriptions

A few of the Pictish stones have inscriptions in ogham, an alphabet of combinations of short strokes invented in Ireland before the 4th century AD. The stones with early oghams (i.e. using the angle of a stone as the base line) are not accompanied by symbols (eg Newton House), but the later examples are accompanied by symbols (eg Brandsbutt Stone).

Locations

View all the locations in Aberdeenshire with Pictish Symbols from the list below:

1 - Fordoun Stone 2 - Kintore Kirkyard 3 - Kinord Cross 4 - Raven Stone, Tyrie 5 - Fyvie Church 6 - Maiden Stone 7 - Inverurie Kirkyard 8 - Newton Stones 9 - Rhynie Old Kirkyard 10 - Brandsbutt Stone 11 - Picardy Stone 12 - St Peter's Church, Inveravon 13 - Rodney's Stone, Brodie 14 - Sueno's Stone 15 - Mortlach Kirk, Dufftown 16 - Aberlemno 17 - Glamis 18 - St Orland's Stone

1. Fordoun Stone

5 miles N of Laurencekirk, In S end of Auchenblae, W of the A94: in the church with the tower.

Kintore Kirkyard2. Kintore Kirkyard

In centre of Kintore. Stone stands inside gate of kirkyard.

Kinord Cross3. Kinord Cross

About 6 miles W of Aboyne. Turn N off A93 onto B9119 at Dinnet. In 1 mile turn W, enter Nature Reserve and walk. Stone overlooks Loch Kinord about 1 mile from turning.

Raven Stone Pictish Symbols4. Raven Stone, Tyrie

On A98 about 5 miles SW of Fraserburgh and just under 1 mile S of junction with B9032, stone in church to S of road.

5. Fyvie Church

8 miles S of Turriff turn N off A947 onto B9005, at Fyvie. Church is at SE corner of Fyvie, at a right-angled bend.

Maiden Stone6. Maiden Stone

5 miles NW of Inverurie on minor road running S of A96 from Oyne fork in W to Drimmies in E. Stone stands on bend: park in layby about 20m W of the stone. Now cared for by Historic Scotland, covered during the winter months.

7. Inverurie Kirkyard

In S end of Inverurie. Turn off the A96 at south end of Inverurie by-pass, cross the Don and turn right onto B993. Go under railway and stop at cemetery; stones in W end of cemetery, between the gate and the Motte (Bass).

8. Newton Stones

10 miles NW of Inverurie on A96 1/2 mile N of Old Rayne turning, turn N at lodge and follow drive to Newton House. Call at house for permission and further directions.

Rhynie Man Pictish Symbol Stone9. Rhynie Old Kirkyard

8 miles S of Huntly. At the South end of Rhynie, turn E off A97 onto narrow track which runs for mile down hill to the old kirkyard. 3 stones stand in a small enclosure in the graveyard carpark.

Bransbutt10. Brandsbutt Stone

Signposted at north end of Inverurie by-pass (A96) off Burghmuir Drive (which links Blackhall Road and North Street): turn up Brankie Road; the stone is at the corner of Gordon Terrace.

11. Picardy Stone

12 miles NW of Inverurie. In N end of Insch, turn NW off B992 onto minor road, sign-posted Largie. Stone stands on S side of tree-lined track 2 miles NW of Insch, 500 m beyond turning for Largie.

12. St. Peter's Church, Inveravon

6 miles SW of Aberlour. On A95, I mile S of junction with B9138, turn W (right) down track to Church, Stones are mounted on outside S wall of church.

Rodney Stone13. Rodney's Stone, Brodie

3 miles W of Forres, turn N off A96 for Brodie Castle. Stone is in Castle grounds in the care of The National Trust for Scotland.

14. Sueno's Stone

Turn N off A96 at E end of Forres. Stone is 150 m down B9011. Park beside the stone. The stone is covered by a large glass case.

15. Mortlach Kirk, Dufftown

In the Square in Dufftown, turn S to banks of Dullan Water; or on entering Dufftown from E On the A941, fork W (left). Signposted.

16. Aberlemno

Two sites to visit here. First adjacent to B9134 (by the school) at Aberlemno. The second is in the kirkyard in the centre of the village, S off the B9134. Covered during winter months.

17. Glamis

In front of the manse, on Kirk Wynd, adjacent to St Fergus's Church at N end of Glamis Village.

18. St Orland's Stone

Minor road leads E off the A928 towards Cossans Farm, then use footpath along disused railway line.