POET and historian Damian Bullen believes he has found possible evidence linking Pictish symbols on the island of Arran with the mysterious temple remains at Samothrace island in the Aegean Sea.

Bullen, an acknowledged expert on Pictish history, is currently investigating the possibility that the Machrie Moor stone circles on Arran are somehow linked to the Samothrace temple complex, once one of the most important religious institutions in Ancient Greece.

He is in the early days of his inquiry, but Bullen – who is originally from Burnley but has lived in Edinburgh and East Lothian since 2003, and is now on Arran – thinks the omens are good for him.

He has been slowly digging away at Pictish symbols found at, among other places, Stronach Ridge on Arran, but it is the Machrie Moor stones which have intrigued him.

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Bullen explained: “A century ago scholars had decided that because they found sepulchral remains in the circles of Machrie Moor, then this was their main purpose. However, holy sites in Britain have always evolved. It is not uncommon in the south of England especially to find a church built upon the site of a Roman temple, which in turn was erected on some pagan place of worship.”

The village Corrie provides a clue to a linkage with the ancient Greek goddess Cora. Bullen stated that it was “a 20th-century American author, Jean Stafford, who noticed the connection between Corrie and Cora, inventing a rather spurious story about her being related to Alexander the Great, but adding an interesting detail that her ancestors had migrated from Samothraki to Arran.”

Cora is also known as Persephone, daughter of the goddess, Demeter.

Bullen states: “This leads us then to Strabo, who on discussing the geographical writings of Artemidorus of Ephesus (late second-century BC), we read that: ‘His report about the goddesses Demeter and Core is more credible. He says that there is an island near Britain on which sacrifices are performed like those in Samothrace for Demeter and Core.’

“Of course that only narrows the Samothracian mysteries to an island off mainland Britain, but the fact that the rites were performed in this area is both astonishing and also unacknowledged by academia.

“Those mysteries, by the way, were said to have been founded by two legendary heroes and brothers, Dardanos and Iasion, who became associated with the divine twins known as the Dioscuri.

“Historians point out that the Celts who lived on the shore of the Ocean honour the Dioscuri above other gods. For there is an ancient tradition among them that these gods came to them from the Ocean.”