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Clach a' Charridh,cross slab (Shandwick Stone)

A Scheduled Monument in Tain and Easter Ross, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.7476 / 57°44'51"N

Longitude: -3.9246 / 3°55'28"W

OS Eastings: 285545

OS Northings: 874719

OS Grid: NH855747

Mapcode National: GBR J8P7.M10

Mapcode Global: WH4F8.PJCH

Entry Name: Clach a' Charridh,cross slab (Shandwick Stone)

Scheduled Date: 31 May 1925

Last Amended: 6 March 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1674

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: cross slab

Location: Nigg (Highland)

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Tain and Easter Ross

Traditional County: Ross-shire

Description

The monument consists of an upright slab of sandstone, carved on both sides (one side with a cross), which probably dates from around AD 800. Under J Romilly Allen's classification, it is a Class II Pictish Symbol Stone.

Clach a'Charridh stands at the edge of a break of slope on a hillside running down towards the village of Shandwick and the shore, and appears to be in its original position. It measures nearly 3m high by 1m broad. The front of the slab (facing seawards) bears a cross formed by a double row of protuding bosses. Flanking the shaft of the cross are 2 angels with outspread wings, 2 beasts (possibly lions) and 2 panels of snakes or serpents. Below the cross are 4 large low bosses, surrounded by snakes meeting face to face.

The back of the slab (facing inland) is divided into 5 panels, carved in lower relief than is the front. The top 2 panels bear Pictish symbols - a double disc and a beast (both common on Class I Symbol Stones). The third panel depicts a complex scene of Pictish life, with 22 figures including horseriders, men fighting and hunting scenes. The largest panel has a pattern of 52 triskeles (3-in-1 spirals) arranged in a circular pattern. The lowest panel is divided into four, each with a different pattern.

The stone was blown over in 1846, at which point it broke in two, but it was repaired and it has recently (1988) been conserved and a glass shelter constructed around it. It is set into its original socket stone. An excavation around the stone in 1988 revealed details of the support provided for the socket stone and post pits presumably used to help raise the stone. It is also suggested that the cross-slab initially possessed a narrow 'tang' (now missing) which fitted into the socket stone, but which was lost either in 1846 or in antiquity. No evidence was revealed by the excavation for any burials in the area of the cross slab, although local tradition suggests that there is an ancient burial ground either around the stone or in its immediate vicinity.

The cross slab is one of a series of particularly impressive Early Christian carved stones in Easter Ross. Stylistically, it is particularly closely related to the stones at both Nigg and Hilton of Cadboll, although it has been suggested that it is the latest of the three. The existence of this local school of sculpture demonstrates the wealth of this area in the late 8th and early 9th centuries, the probable date of their production. The style influenced a wide area, extending as far as Iona where it has been suggested that sculptors from Easter Ross assisted in the carving of St John's and St Oran's Crosses.

The area to be scheduled consists of a circle 10m in diameter, centred on the stone, as defined in red on the accompanying map. It includes the stone and an area of ground which, although it has been partly excavated, contains evidence for the methods used to erect and support the stone. The scheduling is to exclude the above-ground structure of the shelter constructed around the stone.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a richly-carved cross slab dating from the late 8th or early 9th centuries AD. It is one of the most important of the Pictish carved stones which are amongst the greatest works of art of

Early Historic date in Western Europe. Study of Clach a' Charridh has the potential to extend our understanding of sculptural techniques, the organisation of the sculptural profession and ecclesiastical organisation in Early Historic Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

The monument is recorded in the RCAHMS as NH 87 SE 4.

References:

Allen, J. R. (1903) 'Early Christian Monuments of Scotland', p 68-73.

Close-Brooks, J. (1986) 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: The Highlands', p126.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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