Strathmartine Pictish Sculptured Stone

Contributed by Dundee Art Galleries and Museums

Strathmartine Pictish Sculptured Stone

The Picts lived in Northern Britain, had their own distinct culture, and interacted with their contemporaries in Britain and abroad. Large stones, carved by Pictish craftsmen with symbols and scenes, were erected in the landscape throughout Pictland. These stones are the most identifiable objects associated with Pictish culture. Much effort has gone into trying to decipher their symbols.

The earliest stones are natural boulders decorated with geometric shapes, stylized objects and well-observed animals. Later stones are shaped into crosses. Pictish symbols appear together with Christian motifs and secular scenes of battle and hunting. These images give us an idea of how privileged Picts dressed, and of the possessions they wished to display.

The Strathmartine Stone is an example of the earliest type of symbol stone, and dates to around 600AD. It depicts a "beast" and the symbol known as a "crescent and V rod". There is much speculation as to what the Pictish beast might represent, but there is no conclusive answer.

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Strathmartine, Angus.


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