Beliefs – what are they?

Throughout this website the terms “belief” is used extensively.

In the broadest sense a belief is not just an acceptance but more a conviction that something stated is true or valid – but not necessarily with the support of evidence. That “something” could be a principle, proposition, idea, concept, opinion etc. – typically associated with an underlying trust or confidence in the person or organisation advocating it.

When sets of beliefs extend into the nature and purpose of the universe and those powers considered to be divine or to have control over human destiny, they are regarded as “religious beliefs”. Being intangible such beliefs tend to be linked with faith.

Many of the carvings on Pictish Symbol Stones represent expressions of beliefs which fall into two groups:-

  • In a Celtic context certain animals, birds and fish have associated “attributes” which were revered and could be applied to people. Some of these attributes describe personal physical qualities such as strength or endurance, others might be called “softer skills” e.g. wisdom or faithfulness. Additionally, some appear to represent “beliefs” such as eternal life.
  • Mithraic and Christian “religious beliefs” often related to the nature of the universe, human destiny, travel of the soul, immortality beyond death – generally a source of solace or comfort. Latin Crosses and carvings alluding to biblical stories are the main representatives of Christian religious beliefs. Mithraic religious beliefs are interpreted from the so-called Pictish Symbols such as the V-Rod & Crescent and Z-Rod & Double Disc.

Four Investigations into “Shared Space” Belief Combinations in this website centre on exploring the prospect of any commonality of beliefs resulting in the Symbol Stones enabling a compatibly Shared Space for different beliefs. For completeness those Stones found to be “single belief” only are also included as Investigation 5.