Ancient Monuments

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Four Pictish symbol stones, The Bass and Little Bass, Inverurie Cemetery

A Scheduled Monument in Inverurie and District, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.2755 / 57°16'31"N

Longitude: -2.3645 / 2°21'52"W

OS Eastings: 378116

OS Northings: 820596

OS Grid: NJ781205

Mapcode National: GBR X8.WC6N

Mapcode Global: WH8NW.ND7D

Entry Name: Four Pictish symbol stones, The Bass and Little Bass, Inverurie Cemetery

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1923

Last Amended: 31 May 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM74

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: symbol stone

Location: Inverurie

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Inverurie and District

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument consists of the remains of four Class I Pictish symbols stones. The stones were previously located 100m west northwest of their present location and are now in a glass display case on The Bass and Little Bass, motte-and-bailey castle (Scheduled Monument SM99). This is located within Inverurie Cemetery.

The stones are believed to have been previously built into the walls of the old parish church, which stood in the northwest corner of the adjacent cemetery. The kirk went out of use in 1775, its walls were used as a source to construct or repair the dykes of the kirkyard in the early 19th century. Three of the symbol stones were later removed from the dykes and while another was rescued when the walls were being constructed. The four symbol stones are now in a glass display case, known as and arranged (from left to right) as; Inverurie numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Inverurie number 1 is a Class I symbol stone, which bears a crescent and V-rod, a mirror case, a serpent and rod, and a double disk and Z-rod, lies horizontally upon two pairs of rectangular blocks. A pink granite slab, it is irregular in shape, and measures 1.76m in length by 0.52m in breadth and 0.36m in thickness. The portion of the stone bearing the neck and head of the serpent, which was described in the early 20th century, is now also missing. The double disk and Z-rod symbol lies below this, but one disk is entirely lost, and only a little over half of the other is preserved. The presence of four symbols on one face of a Class I stone is unusual.

Inverurie number 2 is a fragment of a larger slab, which has been cut down for reuse as a building stone. A roughly square block of pink granite, it measures 0.32m high, 0.42m in breadth and 0.19m in thickness. The face bears portions of two incised symbols. The upper, at the top, is a mirror case is what appears to be the upper half of a large disk or an arch.

Inverurie number 3 bears a circular symbol and a double disc Z-rod. This is also a block of pink granite, trimmed in reuse as building material. It measures at least 0.75m in height, by 0.62m in breadth and 0.28m in thickness. It bears the remains of a circle, which could be a disc symbol or a mirror symbol, and the double disc and Z-rod.

Inverurie number 4 is an unshaped block of pale pink granite with a pointed head, it measures 0.82m in breadth by 0.31m in thickness at ground level and stands 1.23m in height. On the lower half of its west face it bears the incised figure of a horse in motion.

The scheduled area includes only the four symbol stones. The scheduling excludes all elements of the glass display case, symbol stone supports/stands, related signage and the ground on which the stones and case stand (the ground is already designated as Scheduled Monument SM99). As shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is nationally important as a collection of Class I Pictish Symbol Stones, although each individual stone is of national importance in its own right due to the information it provides on the art, society and material culture of the Picts.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded in RCAHMS as NJ 72 SE 11.01, 11.02, 11.03, 11.04.

Bibliography (includes):

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, 168-170.

Gordon, C A (1967) 'The Pictish animals observed', Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., 98, 1964-6, 98.

Henderson, I M (1972) 'The Picts of Aberdeenshire and their monuments', Archaeol J, 129, 1972, 168-70.

Laing, L R (1975) 'Picts, Saxons and Celtic metalwork', Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., 105, 1972-4, 193.

Mack, A (1997) Field guide to the Pictish symbol stones, Balgavies, Angus, 77-78.

RCAHMS (1994) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Pictish symbol stones: a handlist 1994, Edinburgh, 9.

Ritchie, J N G (1985) Pictish symbol stones: a handlist 1985, Edinburgh, 7.

Ritchie, J (1911) 'Some old crosses and unlettered sepulchral monuments in Aberdeenshire',

Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., 45, 1910-11, 343-5.

SDD (1960) List of Buildings of Architectural or Historical Interest, (Lists held in Architectural Department of RCAHMS) Scottish Development Department, Inverurie (burgh), (July 1968), no. 18.

Shepherd and Ralston, I A G and I B M (1979) Early Grampian: a guide to the archaeology, Aberdeen, 30.

Stuart, J (1856) Sculptured stones of Scotland, 1, Aberdeen, 35.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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