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Pictish symbol-bearing cross-slab, Kinnaird Mausoleum (formerly Rossie Church)

A Scheduled Monument in Carse of Gowrie, Perth and Kinross

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.4641 / 56°27'50"N

Longitude: -3.1513 / 3°9'4"W

OS Eastings: 329159

OS Northings: 730807

OS Grid: NO291308

Mapcode National: GBR VF.CPY4

Mapcode Global: WH6Q3.KSMG

Entry Name: Pictish symbol-bearing cross-slab, Kinnaird Mausoleum (formerly Rossie Church)

Scheduled Date: 2 June 1958

Last Amended: 16 December 2019

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1658

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: symbol stone

Location: Inchture

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Carse of Gowrie

Traditional County: Perthshire

Description

The monument comprises a symbol-bearing Pictish cross-slab that probably dates to the 8th or 9th century AD. It is located within the Kinnaird Mausoleum, formerly Rossie Church.

The cross-slab measures 1.67m in height, 1.16m in width at the base and up to 0.3m in thickness. The front is decorated with a cross in high relief; the left arm is missing. The cross is ringed and has rounded hollow armpits and a central roundel of interlace. The top arm and shaft are decorated with panels of interlace, while the surviving arm bears key pattern. The panels on either side of the head contain, on the left, a beast with a human head and curling tail; on the other side, a beaked figure holding an axe with both hands attacking a bird. On the left side of the shaft are carved a beast with its tail curled over its back; a naked man under attack from a beast and a fish-tailed monster; and a pair of confronted beasts, each swallowing a bird. On the right-hand side of the shaft there is a beast swallowing a serpent; below this there is an animal with a bovine head and large eyes. At the bottom of the slab there is a pair of monsters with human heads.

On the back of the slab, a second cross, set within an interlaced border, is the dominant feature. The almost equal-armed cross has rounded hollow armpits and a central roundel of key pattern and interlace decoration in the arms, which merges into that of the border. The short shaft and its stepped base are outlined by beading and contain figural decoration: five horsemen and a pair of hunting dogs form a hunting scene. In the spaces above the side-arms of the cross are carved an angel and a figure holding a pair of birds by the necks. Finally, on the left-hand side of the shaft and pedestal there are a crescent and V-rod, a 'Pictish beast', and a kneeling animal looking back at the head which forms the termination of its tail.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, centred on the cross-slab, measuring 2m in diameter. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. In particular, the cross-slab has the potential to contribute to our understanding of Pictish culture, language and art and the emergence of Christianity in Pictland.

b. As a well-preserved cross-slab the monument retains structural and decorative attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. These attributes inform us of the development and spread of Insular art and the religious and social structure that may have led to its creation. It also contributes to our understanding of the techniques and skill used to create such monuments. 

c. The monument is a rare example of an early Christian Pictish carved cross slab. Only 60 or so examples of this type of carved stone, bearing both Christian and non-Christian symbols.

d. The monument is a particularly well-preserved example of a carved Pictish cross-slab and is therefore an important representative of this monument type.

e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. In particular, it has the potential to contribute to understanding of early Christian/ Pictish artistic styles and social hierarchy in Pictland through further study of the carvings and their symbology.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The monument is a well-preserved, elaborately carved symbol-bearing Pictish cross-slab. It is located within the Kinnaird mausoleum, after being moved from its original location within the surrounding burial ground. The combination of Christian and apparently non-Christian symbols carved on the monument vividly represents the establishment of Christianity in north-east Scotland amidst the prevailing culture of the Picts.

Scientific study, such as detailed laser scanning, could reveal previously unrecorded detail and provide more information on the stone to help our interpretation of the imagery, the possible purpose of the stone and its date or chronological development. The carvings themselves have the potential to enhance the study of Pictish symbol stones, the development of the Insular art that was created in parts of Britain and Ireland in the early medieval period, and technical aspects of producing such monuments.

Carved stones such as this are particularly important evidence for the early church in Scotland because we have little other archaeological evidence for contemporary sites, as well as a low survival of Pictish liturgical metalwork and an absence of manuscripts that art in other media suggests will have existed. They also hint at the nature of some of our missing liturgical resources, such as holy reliquaries made of fine metals.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

There are over 200 symbol stones known from eastern and northern Scotland (RCAHMS 2008) — approximately two-thirds are incised symbol-stones, and the remaining third are Christian cross-slabs. The cross slabs are mostly in the north-east of the country and concentrated in 'Southern Pictland'. This indicates regional diversity in the use of different types of sculpture in the Pictish church. The symbols themselves are regarding as being a type of undeciphered script which are likely to represent identities and mostly likely names, although other uses such as displaying prestige, high status identities and activities.

Such carvings also provide evidence for the cultural links that existed between different parts of Britain and Ireland in the early medieval period. While the symbol designs are unique to the Picts, the other 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 extensive connections between the Picts and other political entities within Britain and Ireland.

By analogy with other Pictish cross-slabs, it is likely that this cross-slab was erected in relation to a significant Pictish site or possibly a major route or road. The Christian symbolism of the cross also suggests the possibility that the cross was associated with a nearby or adjacent religious house. The monument retains the potential to help inform our understanding of these aspects of Pictish society. 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 northeast Scotland, cultural influences and the relationship of early church sites to the subsequent establishment of the parish system.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

There are no known associative characteristics that contribute to this monument's cultural significance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 73071 (accessed on 26/09/2019).

Perth and Kinross HER Reference MPK6660 accessed on 26/09/2019).

Allan J R. and Anderson J. 1903. The early Christian monuments of Scotland: a classified illustrated descriptive list of the monuments with an analysis of their symbolism and ornamentation. Pt.3 pp. 306-308. Edinburgh. Available online at https://archive.org/details/earlychristianmo12alle/page/n8 (Accessed 29/10/2019).

Henderson, G and Henderson 2011. The Art of the Picts: Sculpture and Metalwork in Early Medieval Scotland. Thames and Hudson.

Kilpatrick, K A 2011. 'The iconography of the Papil Stone: sculptural and literal comparisons with a Pictish motif' in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Vol. 141 pp159-205. Available online at https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-352-1/dissemination/pdf/vol_141/141_159_205.pdf (Accessed 26/09/2019).

Lee R., Jonathon P. and Ziman P 2010. 'Pictish symbols revealed as a written language through application of Shannon entropy' In Proceedings of the Royal Society A (2010) 466, 2545–2560 Available online at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspa.2010.0041 (Accessed 24/10/2019).

Noble, G., Goldberg, M., and Hamilton D 2018. 'The development of the Pictish symbol system: inscribing identity beyond the edges of Empire' in Antiquity Vol. 92 pp. 1329-1348. Available online at https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2018.68 (Accessed 29/10/2019).

RCAHMS 1994. South-East Perth; an archaeological landscape. HMSO, Edinburgh.

RCAHMS 2008. The Pictish Symbols of Scotland. Edinburgh.

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/30648/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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