With the Pictish Symbols there is a unique test of “the eye sees but the brain interprets – the artist needs to create or cause that interpretation”. There is evidence of a range of artistic techniques having been employed by the original carvers to obscure from those who were not privy to the belief but to make clear to those who were followers.
For this author there are three highlights of techniques used on Pictish Symbol Stones:-
- Having decoded the individual Symbols placing each of them in the context of a religious belief a further step, consistent with identifying the use of artistic techniques, is looking for and prospectively fitting together associated meanings. Narratives have been found – overall Mithraic belief, soul travel and the use of Roman Mithraea.
- Structurally the V-Rod & Crescent elegantly records a fundamental aspect of the Mithraic belief of the travel of the soul from and to Heaven using directional arrows; the view to Heaven across the horizon to the fixed stars and beyond is artistically achieved with the crescent – this can especially be seen by looking from the shore across the sea.
- The carved connection between the Double Discs is formed of back-to-back convex lines giving a 3D “waisted” effect. This application of “perspective” arguably transforms the object into a ring to represent the contained universe. Could this be the earliest example of this artistic technique?