Ancient Monuments

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Sandside House,Reay,two carved stones

A Scheduled Monument in Thurso and Northwest Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.5619 / 58°33'42"N

Longitude: -3.8032 / 3°48'11"W

OS Eastings: 295193

OS Northings: 965169

OS Grid: NC951651

Mapcode National: GBR J6Z3.2LK

Mapcode Global: WH5BL.K256

Entry Name: Sandside House,Reay,two carved stones

Scheduled Date: 31 May 1925

Last Amended: 27 February 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM616

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: symbol stone

Location: Reay

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Thurso and Northwest Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument consists of two carved stones of Early Historic date, both in the garden of Sandside House, Reay.

The more easterly of the two stones is a roughly rectangular slab of sandstone, measuring approximately 1.45m tall by 0.6m wide by 0.1m thick. It is sculptured on one face with incised symbols of Pictish type and is thus a Class I symbol stone. At the top are a horizontal row of 3 vertically-aligned flattened ovals, joined together in the middle by pairs of small circles, and having a double outline at the tops and bottoms of the ovals; below this is carved a mirror-case symbol; and at the bottom are the mirror and comb symbols. The symbol of the 3 ovals is very infrequent.

This stone was discoved c.1853 near the remains of an early settlement on the sand links by the shore at Sandside. It is held against a retaining wall in the garden by iron cramps and is currently set upside down, with the three ovals at the bottom. There is a crack across the middle of the stone.

The more westerly of the two stones is a rectangular block of sandstone measuring 0.75m tall by 0.22m wide by 0.2m thick. It is sculptured on one face only. At the top is incised a small circle or orb 0.1m in diameter, containing an equal-armed cross. Beneath is a plain circle 0.2m in diameter, occupying the width of the stone. In the bottom left hand corner is carved the date 1911.

This stone was found built into a stone dyke near Tigh a'Bheannaich at Shurrery (at approximately ND0357), the site of a chapel of early origin. It is now set into a garden wall to the E of Sandside House.

The area to be scheduled is in two parts. The more easterly area is rectangular and measures 1m N-S by approximately 0.5m E-W, aligned with the stone, to include the symbol stone and the portion of wall against which it stands. The more westerly area consists of a length of garden wall 1m long, centred on the stone, and measures approximately 0.7m N-S by 1m E-W, to include the carved stone and the wall into which it is set. These areas are indicated in red on the accompanying map extract

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as two stones bearing carvings of probable Early Historic date. Such stones provide important evidence for social and ecclesiastical organisation, the spread of Christianity and settlement patterns in Early Historic Scotland. In addition, study of the stone bearing Pictish symbols has the potential to add to our knowledge of the meaning of such Pictish carvings.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Allan, J. R. 'Early Christian Monuments of Scotland', 29-30.

RCAHMS,'Caithness', 109.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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