Ancient Monuments

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Victoria Gardens, cross slab 25m east of 1 Wingfield

A Scheduled Monument in East Neuk and Landward, Fife

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Latitude: 56.2618 / 56°15'42"N

Longitude: -2.6305 / 2°37'49"W

OS Eastings: 361040

OS Northings: 707881

OS Grid: NO610078

Mapcode National: GBR 2Y.9GZ0

Mapcode Global: WH8TL.KVLZ

Entry Name: Victoria Gardens, cross slab 25m E of 1 Wingfield

Scheduled Date: 29 December 1970

Last Amended: 5 October 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM819

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: cross slab

Location: Crail

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: East Neuk and Landward

Traditional County: Fife


The monument comprises a Pictish Class III sculptured cross-slab, dating probably from the 8th or 9th century AD on art historical grounds. It was first scheduled in 1970, and is being rescheduled to clarify the extent of the scheduled area.

The monument now stands in Victoria Gardens, Crail, at a height of around 40 m above sea level. It was moved from its original position near Sauchope in 1851, and moved again in 1929 to its current location. It is a roughly oblong block of sandstone which stands 1.4m high and is 0.6m wide. The stone is carved on both faces. On the S face the ornament comprises a hunting scene with two (or possibly three) figures on horseback and at least one dog. A haloed cross with two dogs beneath it has been carved on the N face.

The area to be scheduled is circular in plan, with a diameter of 6m centred on the cross-slab, as shown in the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground remains of the 1929 interpretation plaque and its concrete mount, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The stone is now very weathered and it is difficult to see the detail of the carvings in ordinary light conditions. However, researchers photographing the cross-slab in more conducive lighting conditions have verified the survival of Pictish carvings on both faces of the stone, and confirmed the detail of the ornament as described above. Carved stones such as this are important evidence for the early church in Scotland because we have little archaeological evidence for contemporary sites, relatively few examples of Pictish liturgical metalwork and an absence of contemporary documentary evidence. Early historic carved stones such as this probably provided focal points for worship, but were also a public statement about the beliefs of the community and the allegiances of their patrons. The carvings themselves have the potential to enhance our knowledge and understanding of Pictish society, the development of Insular art in Britain and Ireland, and the technical aspects of stone-carving in the early historic period.

Contextual characteristics

The stone depicts a scene of hunting on horseback with dogs, probably deer hunting. It is reminiscent of the scene carved on a cross-slab at Aberlemno and hunting scenes depicted in the Lindisfarne Gospels. Hunting was a practice associated with the Pictish elite and took place during tours of landholdings by royalty. These tours were borne of economic necessity, but also served to reinforce power relations among kings, queens, courts and clients. Division of spoils and communal feasting took place after these hunts, activities that reinforced relationships of dependency. The monument retains the potential to inform our understanding of these aspects of Pictish society. As with many cross-slabs, the Standing Stone of Sauchope (as this stone is known) was found near the site of a medieval parish church. Crail Parish Church contains masonry that can be dated to the 12th century and also contains Pictish stones which were found nearby. It seems likely, therefore, that Crail was a centre of Christian worship from the 8th or 9th century, and possibly earlier, as was nearby St Andrews. The Sauchope Stone retains the potential to inform our understanding of this very important area in the early Christian period.

The stone belongs to class of monument that is rare both regionally and nationally and is on the periphery of the distribution of such carved stones. Comparing and contrasting the geographical location and artistic detail of this monument to those of other early medieval carved stones in Scotland provides information about the spread of Christianity into Pictland, the prevailing cultural influences of the time, and the relationship of early church sites to the subsequent establishment of the parish system.

Associative characteristics

The Standing Stone of Sauchope clearly served as a focal point of the locality long after it was created and has been moved twice to ensure its survival. The stone originally stood on a small mound near the farm of Sauchope, just off the road leading from Crail to Fife Ness, but was moved to a nearby site in 1851 when the marches between two estates were straightened. It is possible that the 19th-century estate boundaries were relics of much earlier boundaries and that the stone marked an early boundary. The stone was moved to its present location in Victoria Gardens, a public park in Crail, in 1929, indicating that it continued to be valued by the local community. There is a tradition that Sir William Hope of Balcomie, author of many books on fencing, defeated a foreign knight at the stone in the early 18th century. A fictionalised account of this event was published in The International Magazine in 1852.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a rare, elaborately carved Pictish cross-slab, and has the potential to contribute to our understanding of Pictish art and monumental sculpture, the hunting practices of the elite, the introduction and development of Christianity in Scotland and cultural contacts in the early historic period. The loss of the monument would affect our ability to understand Pictish society, which inhabited much of Scotland north of the Forth between the 4th and 9th centuries AD, particularly as the historical record covering this region in this period is extremely limited.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument NO60NW303: Crail, St Andrews Road, Victoria Gardens, Standing Stone of Sauchope: Cross Slab. It records the previous location of the monument separately as NO60NW3: Crail, the Standing Stone of Sauchope, Cross Slab.


Allen, J R 1890, 'Preliminary List of Sculptured Stones Older than A.D. 1100, with Symbols and Celtic Ornament, in Scotland', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 24 (1889-90), 510-525.

Allen, 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, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Anon 1852, 'A Legend of the East Neuk of Fife', The International Magazine 5(1), 63-83.

Evans, M S 1998, Stone Carvings and Carved Stones in Fife, Glenrothes: Megart.

Fleming, D H 1886, Guide to the East Neuk of Fife, embracing all the towns and villages, antiquities and places of interest between Fife Ness and Leven, in two parts, Cuper: John Innes, Fife Herald Office/Edinburgh: John Menzie and Co.

Foster, S M 2004 (2nd ed), Picts, Gaels and Scots: Early Historic Scotland, London: B T Batsford.

Leighton, J M 1811, History of the County of Fife, from the earliest period to the present time, Glasgow: Joseph Swan.

RCAHMS 1933, Eleventh Report with Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, Edinburgh: His Majesty's Stationery Office.

Stuart, J 1856, The Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Aberdeen: Spalding Club.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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