Pictish Symbols at Aberlemno

Abstract Pictish Symbols at Aberlemno

This morning my Castles Tour ended when I dropped off the guests at Aberdeen Airport. I then proceeded to drive south (home) stopping en-route to visit and photograph the  7-9th  centuries AD (Pictish era) carved stones at Aberlemno in Angus, east of Scotland.

The Picts ( Picti or painted people) were the indigenous inhabitants of Scotland occupying the territory lying north of Forth-Clyde estuaries. These people apparently did not have a written language notwithstanding which they have left a huge cultural legacy in the form of expertly carved stone monuments which reflect verY favourably on their artistic skills. The carved stones feature a mix of battle scenes, religious scenes ( particularly King David and Daniel) and unique abstract symbols which we are unable to interpret today. These carvings may have been the medium for a combination of propaganda and religious messages to a largely illiterate society.

Hunting scene and abstract symbols on Pictish stone

Hunting scene and abstract symbols on Pictish stone at Aberlemno

Here is a video clip of the above stone, a tall cross-slab from the Pictish era featuring angels holding books on either side of the shaft. The back contains decoration including a hunting scene with trumpeters, crescent and  a V-rod and double disc and Z-rod symbols at top of shaft. Base of the shaft features a centaur and representation of David rending the jaws of a lion.

Carved Pictish Stone with symbols

Carved Pictish Stone with symbols at Aberlemno

This video clip expands on the detail shown at top of the post. The full carving represents a cross-slab from the 8th century AD and comprises, on one side,  a Celtic type cross with interlace flanked by entwined beasts whilst the other side represents a battle scene and two Pictish symbols. (The hole is relatively modern.)

A wide range of Pictish era carved stones have been found in a North-South band stretching along the east of Scotland and into the Orkneys and Shetland Islands. A fascinating aspect of Scotland’s long and complicated history.

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