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Inverurie Cemetery, four symbol stones

A Scheduled Monument in Inverurie and District, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.2757 / 57°16'32"N

Longitude: -2.3662 / 2°21'58"W

OS Eastings: 378019

OS Northings: 820621

OS Grid: NJ780206

Mapcode National: GBR X8.WBVB

Mapcode Global: WH8NW.MDG6

Entry Name: Inverurie Cemetery, four symbol stones

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1923

Last Amended: 29 October 2003

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 in Inverurie Cemetery, once the burial ground of Inverurie Cemetery, once the burial ground of Inverurie Old Parish Church. The monument was originally scheduled in 1923 and rescheduled in 1976. The monument is being rescheduled in order to define more clearly the extent of the scheduled area.

The four symbol stones are arranged in a row with three other stones at the W end of the cemetery. The stones are believed to have been built into the walls of the old parish church, which stood in the NW corner of what is now the cemetery. The kirk went out of use in 1775, and its walls were used as a quarry to construct or repair the dykes of the kirkyard in the early 19th century. The kirkyard was used expanded in the late 19th century to take in the old burial ground and the Castle Yards surrounding the Bass of Inverurie. Stones nos. 2, 3 and 4 were later removed from the dykes, while stone no. 1 was rescued when the walls were being constructed.

Inverurie no. 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. However, it has been suggested that the symbol stone was inverted and reused at some time, though which pair of symbols takes precedence is unclear.

Inverurie no. 2 is the southernmost of the stones and 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 no. 3, which bears a circular symbol and a double'disc Z'rod, stands immediately N of no. 2. 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 no. 4 is the northernmost, and is separated from the others by the Innes of Ardtannes headstone. 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 W face it bears the incised figure of a horse in motion.

The area to be scheduled includes the four symbol stones and an area around them. The scheduled area is a rectangle measuring 13m N'S and 7m transversely. The scheduling excludes all the more recent gravestones and modern burial lairs still in use. Stone 1 is not earthfast and it should therefore be noted, in relation to section 61 (8)(a) of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, that its situation in this particular site is a matter of public interest, as the stone is close to its presumed original location.

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. The discover of four separate Class I stones in this location suggests a place of considerable significance, long before earl David of Huntingdon established his castle and burgh close to the site in the 1180 and before the establishment of chapel on the site (first mentioned around 1190).

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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