Symbol designs and their interpretation are considered in Mithraism and Pictish Symbols with more detail of the designs in Drawn Designs.
These 10 Case Studies (compiled for the initial Pictish-Mithraism website and book) are a feature rich selection of Stones balanced from North and South of The Mounth representing Class 1 (Mithraic) and Class 2 (Mithraic to Christian transition) Stones from single and multiple location sites.
To give a broad representation, selection criteria included research on the original location of each Stone – by the sea, by a river or confluence of rivers; whether discovered under / in / at a church or churchyard; if part of a stone circle, broch or tumulus; erected in a raised or open area maybe with a distant view. Several original locations later became church sites and have an association with a Saint as a founder or dedicated to him or her. The Stones themselves have a range of Symbols from the relatively commonplace to “one-offs”, maybe a biblical story, the complexity of fantastic creatures and monsters, more recognisable animals and people – often on horseback.
As well as highlighting several features at a number of sites, the purpose of this broad set of Case Studies is to further demonstrate that:
- The Stones were used for “belief” purposes. Latterly Christian religious belief and formerly for Celtic beliefs or personal attributes then a form of Mithraism.
- The initial religious belief comes from Roman Mithraism, the Symbols are representative of that Mystery Cult and can be traced to an interpretation of what is seen in Roman Mithraea.
- There was tolerance for specific religious beliefs, adaptation and adoption of pre-existing beliefs and transition to newer beliefs e.g. to Christianity.
- Original locations can have particular significance e.g. distant views, closeness to rivers etc.
- Some of the locations seem to have had the equivalent of the Christian “cathedral” functionality.