Amongst the range of Pictish Symbol Stones, three have carvings of boars – St Vigeans (Drosten Stone), Dores (Clune Farm) and Knocknagael.
A likely Roman Legion connection involving Boar Stones adds to the alternative view the author gives to the currently believed history of the Pictish period and the time periods for the erection of the Class 1 and 2 Stones.
Alister Chisholm of the South Loch Ness Heritage Group EMailed me in May 2020 with a link to a map that includes “site of the Roman station BANATIA” where the north east end of Loch Ness meets the River Ness / Caledonian Canal – across from Bona. This prompted research into the the prospective derivation of the names Banatia and Bona and an expanded version of the PDF referred to above. It places the names Banatia and Bona very firmly into the context of a Roman military presence in that geographic area.
Bona, at the north-east end of Loch Ness, has a few houses and is near a relatively modern castle – all well hidden from roads but very visible from cruise boats. There was a ferry at this point where the River Ness joins the end of Loch Ness – remains of piers are still visible. Its importance goes back much further than being the start point of the eastern section of the Caledonian Canal to Inverness from the early 1800s or, prospectively, St Columba sailing by in 565 CE. From my research into the name “Bona” and carvings on nearby Pictish Stones it seems that Bona may have a connection back to a Roman Legion.
Having explored several possible derivations for “Bona”, the only one with a context that fits is from Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1911) which shows Bona (Arabic Annaba) identified with the Algerian seaport of Hippo Regius or Ubbo. Seemingly when it became a Roman colonia the city name was latinised to Hippo from the original Punic name Ûbôn or Ubbo meaning harbour.
Perhaps the key to a connection between Bona, Scotland and Bona, Algeria lies in the prospective deployment of Roman auxiliary forces from North Africa. That link comes from interpreting the significance of carvings of boars on Pictish Stones near to Bona and the boar being the emblem of the 20th Roman Legion.
Click here for Bona (Inverness-shire), Boar Carvings and a Roman Legion PDF which concludes that considering the potential reasons for the names Bona and Banatia and the boar carvings perhaps the Knocknagael and Dores (Clune Farm) Stones were incised specifically by people associated with the Roman Twentieth Legion.
If so then the connection has significant historical impact:-
- adding another location for the presence of the Twentieth Legion therefore
reinforcing that there was a Roman military presence further north in Scotland
(Caledonia) than is generally regarded,
- prompting the removal of the Boar as a “symbol” from the lists of Pictish Symbol
Stones – arguably it represents a Roman Legion emblem and
- challenging the dating of the Knocknagael Boar Stone shown (at its original location) as 7th to 8th century on the Historic Scotland sign).