Class 2 Stones – Physical Locations

Each Class 2 Symbol Stone is carved with objects associated with Pictish-Mithraic and with Christian beliefs. Additionally some have carvings with Celtic belief or non-religious context. All Class 2 Stones are included in the attached Class 2 Stones – Physical Locations PDF.

Considering all of the Class 1 and 2 Pictish Symbol Stones many have been moved from their original locations, others have remained in significant sites especially those with high geographic visibility. Some sources give insufficiently accurate pin points; in other cases Stones have been broken up and parts dispersed; some Stones are just lost. However, the fate of the Class 2 ones versus Class 1 is such that fewer have been damaged or re-purposed and most are readily visible and accessible – mostly in museums.

To help identify any common threads across the wide range of locations of Class 2 Symbol Stones they have been grouped by these seven specific “features” of their physical locations:

Church interior / foundations / wall; Churchyard / graveyard; Church or chapel nearby; Manse; In a field; In foundations of buildings; In a raised or open area.

Many Stones are in, under or near churches – not just current churches but also previous buildings. This suggests some form of reverence, acceptance or even superstition by the people living in Pictland on the transition from Mithraism to Christianity which continued as Christianity was established. Maybe few surprises here as traditionally transitions have occurred with the recognition and sometimes absorption of previous religious beliefs into the new one; also Christian churches were built over Mithraea in Italy and elsewhere.

← Elgin Cathedral is “home” to the Stone listed as Elgin – originally unearthed in 1823 near St Giles Kirk, Elgin. This side has Symbols, the other a Christian Cross and other objects. Two interesting associations with Christian belief – firstly with a church in Elgin, secondly here in the nave of the ruined cathedral.

When Mithraic belief was pursued in Roman Empire times the temple (or Mithraeum) was typically built close to water. From the location of so many Symbol Stones near water it seems that practice was continued when the belief was transformed into Pictish-Mithraism. It seems reasonable that the proximity of Pictish Stones to water and the building in Roman times of Mithraea near water further tends to support a belief relationship between Mithraea and Pictish Stones. Maybe many modern churches are near water because their medieval predecessors (which they replaced) were built at Symbol Stone sites which arguably were located by water for religious belief reasons.

Another aspect when considering original locations concerns Saints. For some locations there is foundation by a specific saint, such as St Nathalan at Tullich; the bulk are dedications. Here is a list of locations with associations between Saints and Stones.

Particularly relevant pages within this Pictish Symbol Stones website are:-

Meanings of the carved objects – Celtic, Mithraic and Christian.

Belief Combinations – Investigations – these are the pages that explore combinations of Celtic, Pictish-Mithraic and Christian beliefs.

Entries in the Class 2 Stones – Physical Locations PDF indicate the location (original and current as well if moved from the original) of all the Class 2 Stones and, based on the “Shared Space” Investigations, whether the belief combinations of carved objects are:

  • Celtic and Christian,
  • Pictish-Mithraic and Christian or
  • Celtic, Pictish-Mithraic and Christian.

From that material it is possible to determine the extent to which individual Stones played a part in the transition between beliefs.

Attempting to identify any relevance of locations of Class 2 Stones based on various permutations of their proximity to water and / or any association with a Saint resulted in no clear patterns. However, there were other meaningful outcomes not least from some numerical analyses. Included in way of an annexe is a record of those Initial Investigations – the approach used and outcomes in terms of observations and evaluations.

The content of carved objects and locations of Stones on a per Stone basis, followed by a bigger picture view was then pursued and forms the core part of the exploration into Class 2 Stones prospectively being “transition” Stones from one belief to another.