Pictish Sculpture - The 'Dragon Stone'

Contributed by Tarbat Discovery Centre

Pictish Sculpture - The 'Dragon Stone'

In 1997, during archaeological investigation of the 17th century 'barrel-vaulted' Crypt of Tarbat Old Parish Church (which contains part of the original 8th century building) excavator Niall Robertson, having felt the carved shapes on the underside of a stone that was built into the wall, had discovered what would become known as the 'Dragon Stone'. This is one of the most outstanding pieces of Pictish sculpture to be found at Tarbat. It is believed to date from the 8th century and may have been part of 3 metre tall cross-slab which stood in the churchyard.

The face on the reverse is carved with a scene from the Bible and features a number of clerics wearing robes. This side has come to be known as the 'Monk' or 'Apostle Stone'.

Another stone, which was found in the garden wall of the Church Manse, has a similar spiral pattern to the 'Dragon Stone' and may have been part of the same cross-slab. On the side of this stone is the first legible Latin inscription ever to be found in Pictland. It is carved in the same capital lettering that was used to write the 8th century Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells.

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8th Century


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