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Migvie Parish Church, cross-slab 25m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1488 / 57°8'55"N

Longitude: -2.9329 / 2°55'58"W

OS Eastings: 343650

OS Northings: 806823

OS Grid: NJ436068

Mapcode National: GBR WK.3QHP

Mapcode Global: WH7N1.XLJ0

Entry Name: Migvie Parish Church, cross-slab 25m SW of

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1923

Last Amended: 21 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM82

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: cross slab

Location: Logie-Coldstone

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises a Pictish symbol-bearing cross-slab that probably dates to the 8th or 9th century AD. It was first scheduled in 1933, and is being rescheduled to clarify the extent of the scheduled area.

The monument lies within the burial ground of Migvie Parish Church, at a height of around 230 m above sea level. It was recovered in the mid-19th century from the foundations of the old church. It is a roughly pointed pillar of gneiss standing 1.75 m above the ground and is carved on both faces. On the E face there is a cross, the interior of which is infilled with knotwork. The cross is flanked by a horseman and Pictish symbols, including a double-disc and Z-rod, an arch (or horseshoe) and V-rod, and a pair of shears or tongs. On the W face of the monument there is another representation of a horseman.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, centred on the cross-slab, to include the upstanding monument and an area around affording protection, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground remains of an adjacent burial enclosure, to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is clearly visible within the graveyard of Migvie Parish Church, the site of a medieval church dedicated to St Finan. It is a well-preserved, elaborately carved Pictish cross-slab and, as such, it belongs to class of monument that is rare both regionally and nationally. The combination of symbols carved on the monument vividly represents the establishment of Christianity in NE Scotland amidst the prevailing culture of the Picts.

The carvings in general have the potential to enhance the study of Pictish symbol stones, the development of Insular art in Britain and Ireland, and technical aspects of carving stones in the early medieval period.

Carved stones such as this are particularly important evidence for the early church in Scotland because we have little archaeological evidence for contemporary sites, a low survival of Pictish liturgical metalwork and an absence of manuscripts. They also hint at the nature of some of our missing liturgical resources, such as venerated art objects.

Contextual characteristics: Comparing and contrasting the geographical location and artistic detail of this monument to other early medieval carved stones in Scotland provides information about the spread of Christianity into NE Scotland, cultural influences and the relationship of early church sites to the subsequent establishment of the parish system.

Unlike the Anglo-Saxons and Irish, the Picts used the slab as a medium for carving over a long period, which is one of the distinctive characteristics of Pictish sculpture.

The Picts used their symbols in a range of contexts, but we find the majority of surviving examples carved on stone. Only 60 or so symbol-bearing cross-slabs survive in Scotland, only seven in Aberdeenshire. They are therefore rare here relative to further south in Pictland, and, taking into account other forms of sculpture, this is indicative of regional diversity in how use of different types of sculpture met the local needs of the Pictish church.

The meaning of the symbols is much debated, but they may represent personal names. Such carvings provide evidence for the cultural links that existed between different parts of the British Isles in the early medieval period. While the symbol designs are unique to the Picts, their content provides evidence for how the art of the Picts relates to the Insular art style of this period, and the relationship to art in different media, such as metalwork. This provides important evidence for the relationship between the Picts and their early medieval neighbours.

Associative characteristics:

We do not know the origins of the Pictish use of the slab for carving but possibilities include influences from Northumbria (linked to a Pictish decision to change its liturgical practices) and Iona.

The 'Migvie Stone' clearly served as a focal point of the locality long after it was created. It is documented that in the mid-14th century Thomas, Earl of Mar, held his head court 'at the stone of Migvie in Cromar'.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a rare, well-preserved, elaborately carved Pictish cross-slab. It therefore has the potential to contribute to our understanding of Pictish art and monumental sculpture, the introduction and development of Christianity in Scotland and cultural contacts in the early medieval period. The loss of the monument would affect our ability to understand the Pictish people who inhabited much of Scotland north of the Forth between the 4th and 9th centuries AD, particularly as the historical record covering this region in this period is extremely limited.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NJ40NW 2.

References:

Allen and Anderson J R and J 1903, THE EARLY CHRISTIAN MONUMENTS OF SCOTLAND: A CLASSIFIED ILLUSTRATED DESCRIPTIVE LIST OF THE MONUMENTS WITH AN ANALYSIS OF THEIR SYMBOLISM AND ORNAMENTATION, Edinburgh, Pt. 3.

Henderson G and Henderson I 2004, THE ART OF THE PICTS, London, 177.

RCAHMS, 2007, IN THE SHADOW OF BENNACHIE. THE FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY OF DONSIDE, ABERDEENSHIRE, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Shepherd I A G 1986, EXPLORING SCOTLAND'S HERITAGE: GRAMPIAN, 122-3, Edinburgh: HMSO.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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