A CROWDFUNDING campaign has been launched to raise £20,000 to conserve and display a Pictish standing stone found near Dingwall during the summer. The stone was discovered by Anne MacInnes of North of Scotland Archaeological Society (NOSAS) which was carrying out a survey of the site of an early Christian church.

It was subsequently verified as Pictish and dating from 700-800 AD. It has been described as a find of “national importance” and is the latest in a line of discoveries of Pictish stones which are helping us to get closer to the truth about our ancient ancestors who joined – by conquest or merger, we don’t really know – with the Scots from the west in the ninth century to form the Kingdom of Alba, forerunner of modern Scotland.


THEY are both fascinating in themselves and hugely important in understanding the history of Scotland. The Pictish standing stones are not to be confused with the standing stones of Callanish (Calanais in Gaelic) on the Isle of Lewis which were erected at the same time as Skara Brae on Orkney flourished between 3000 and 2500 BC.

The remarkable formation at Callanish has often been described as Scotland’s Stonehenge, but it is just the largest and best preserved of a range of standing stones and stone circles on Lewis. No definitive proof exists as to why they were erected, but theories include an astronomical purpose for an early religion, or as a burial ground.

That we know so little about the Lewis stone erectors is understandable but we really should know much more about the Picts, the collective name given to the tribes who occupied the north and east of Scotland in the first millennium AD. They were given their name by the Romans who described them as picti or painted people. We know a lot more than we used to about these ancient peoples of Scotland largely because of more discoveries of their standing stones which are usually in the form of Christian crosses or stone panels, all carved with Pictish symbols. We’re learning all the time because of the remarkable work of archaeologists who are slowly but surely building a picture of their way of life.


FROM the time when Romans came to Scotland until the end of the first millennium AD, there is no written record of the Pictish people produced by themselves and our historical knowledge is mostly derived from chronicles written far away from Pictavia, as the land of the Picts is sometimes known.

There is also one aspect of the Picts that we still do not fully understand – their language. Given we know they were an artistic people – their carved stones and intricate jewellery are proof of that – it seems remarkable we are still some way from having a Pictish dictionary. For all the standing stones that have been found and deciphered, there is as yet no equivalent of a Rosetta Stone, the slab containing ancient Egyptian and Greek text which enabled the first translation of hieroglyphs.

The so-called Brandsbutt Stone in Inverurie which has a single word in the Ogham language is the nearest we have to a Pictish Rosetta. In case you are interested the word is IRATADDOARENS.


A SHORT list in no order – Brandsbutt and the Maiden Stone both at Inverurie, Fowlis Wester, Dupplin Cross, Aberlemno, Sueno’s Stone, the Burghhead Bulls, Portmahomack and the Meigle Museum will give you a good start on the Pictish Trail.