Mithraism and Pictish Symbols

Initial examples of Pictish Symbol Stones had mainly geometric objects that this author considers to represent a version of Mithraic religious belief.

As the intent from the author’s research was to see if there is a connection between some form or variant of Mithraism and the Symbol Stones, a short “Who’s Who” is offered to understand chronology and location of  the “people” called Mitra, Mithra and Mithras which also gives an explanation of historical Mithraism. 

Popular in the Roman military but derived from an earlier following, Mithraism was practiced indoors in  Temples of Mithras, or Mithraea, during the time of the Empire’s presence in Britannia.

Fundamental to Mithraism, as is the case with most forms of religion, are man-made stories and religious beliefs created for a specific and fundamental purpose – a life beyond death, for example, therefore a source of solace or comfort. This, in itself, would have caused a following to build up – not least in the military.

Realising the similarity of the shape of the Z-Rod on Pictish Symbol Stones and the shape made by the torches of Cautes and Cautopates on the Mithraic Tauroctony in the

Mithraism & Pictish Symbols
Mithras Sculpture – Museum of London

Museum of London marked the start of the author discovering a prospective connection. Looking towards the Tauroctony to the viewer’s left is Cautes (representing the morning star and spring equinox) and to the right Cautopates (representing the evening star and autumn equinox). Relative to Mithras Cautes is on his right and Cautopates on his left.

When investigating Mithraism in more depth it became clear that other Symbols might represent aspects of this religious belief – such as the V in the V-Rod being two separate but connected directional arrows so tying in with the travel of the soul on birth and death. By re-evaluating what had been taught at school about the Roman Empire not extending beyond the Antonine Wall led to thinking about who might have created the Stones other than the Picts. The result was a breakthrough in decoding the Symbols and the discovery of a previously unknown religious belief which the author has called Pictish-Mithraism.

Here is the story of the discovery of the connection between Mithras Belief and Pictish Symbols.