Initial Focus on Angus and Perth & Kinross

Of the 49 locations of “Class 2” Pictish Symbol Stones, 22 are concentrated in the Angus and Perth & Kinross geographic area. They are marked up with red stars on the map extract below from page 11 of The Pictish Symbol Stones of Scotland Edited by Iain Fraser published by RCAHMS. Here is detail for these Stones, their locations and Saint associations.

Some of these locations, such as Meigle and St Vigeans, have more than one Stone but for this investigation it is the individual geographic location rather than the number of Stones that is relevant.

An initial focus on this concentrated area was to see if outcomes from investigations there could be applied across the widely dispersed field of all Class 2 Stone locations in Scotland. Somewhat of a pilot scheme ensued:

a) considering Stones that have associations with specifically named Saints,

b) identifying the proximity of Stones to abbeys, priories, friaries and other monastic religious houses and

c) noting which Stones have ringed Celtic Crosses and which ones are unringed to see if this difference could lead to dating.

Of the 10 Class 2 locations in Scotland where there is an association with a named Saint, 6 ( in green below) are in the Angus and Perth & Kinross geographic area.

Details of this pilot investigation and its tentative conclusions are in this PDF:- Initial Focus – Data, Analyses and Output.

In summary these tentative conclusions are:

From the author’s previous investigation into a Saint Association with a Stone there were 3 clear prospects – Tealing Stone and St Boniface around 700, Alyth Stone and St Moluag if the Stone was carved in the Saint’s lifetime (giving a late 500s / early 600s window) and St Vigeans Stones and St Vigean who died in 664.

St Serf seemingly founded a priory in his lifetime suggesting the mid to later 500s – the nearest Stone is at Scoonie but there is no known direct association.

With Pittenweem monastery having associations with St Monan and St Fillan all dating to the 6th century this could date the Largo Stone to the same period.

A relationship connecting Monifieth Class 2 Stones, Monifieth Monastery and St Rule (Regulus) is not appearing; nor is a relationship with fragments of nearby Strathmartine and Tealing Stones.

Regarding Restenneth, there is no direct Saint connection and the foundation of the Priory in 1153 is beyond the transition period to Christianity.

There are no known associations between Brechin Monastery and any Saints. Overall the only direct Stone / Saint associations came from the earlier investigations. However, widening the research to consider “monastic houses” and their dating prompted another relevant avenue to investigate.

Monasteries and Priories in this geography have a range of foundation dates but some of the information is ambiguous or at best offers alternatives.

Dunkeld Monastery has a link to a church (preceding the monastery and presumably on the same site) to which Kenneth MacAlpin brought the relics of St Columba in 849; conversely it is alleged that Dunkeld Monastery was built in the 6th or 7th century following St Columba’s expedition into the land of the Picts. This gives about a 150 year range.

In the vicinity of Abernethy a parish church was supposedly built around the 6th century with references to more than one King Nechtan again confirming the difficulty in linking events and people.

Again there is a choice of king having a linkage with a monastic house with St Serf’s Priory and one of two Brudes.

However, Pittenweem Monastery does have plausible dating from two Saints around the 6th century.

Monifieth’s time frame is unclear with conflicting dates over a 700 year timeframe for potentially associated Saints and the transport of relics.

Another wide timeframe to link in attributable events is apparent for Restenneth Priory.

More positive dating is possible for Brechin Monastery – unfortunately for the purposes of the current investigations timing-wise the Monastery was most likely built after the period when the Class 2 Stones would have influenced transition to Christianity.

In conclusion, with the variability of time period information and linkages to events and people (basically Saints and Kings) the “monastic house” thread is somewhat open-ended.

Much has been learned from this Initial Focus – partly building from earlier investigations (such as Stones with supposed Saint Associations) but exploring new ground has been prompted (not least from the style of Crosses). Expanding geographically across Scotland builds from this investigation.