Having explored reasons how and why a space “would have been shared, the impact and the consequences” the final assessment is whether this was actually successful.
From the investigations, assessments and further analyses the surfaces of the Pictish Symbol Stones have enabled seven broad functions as aids in:-
- Explaining Pictish-Mithraic religious beliefs using (in the main) V-Rod & Crescent, Mirror, Z-Rod & Double Disc, Pictish Beast and Comb Symbols.
- Connecting to the Roman predecessor of Pictish-Mithraism with Symbol shapes that are reminiscent of the layout of Roman Mithraea e.g. the Notched Rectangle and Horseshoe/Arch.
- Demonstrating acceptance of Celtic “attributes” (whether reverence for personal physical and softer skills or religious/spiritual beliefs) whilst introducing Pictish-Mithraism by placing Mithraic Symbols on Stones with Celtic icons (or perhaps vice-versa).
- Explaining Christianity using the Latin Cross, Beasts (some perhaps to describe biblical stories), Ecclesiastic persons, Angels etc.
- Continuing the pursuit of Mithraic religious beliefs whilst transitioning to Christianity with Mithraic icons included on Stones with Christian ones.
- Commemorating events such as hunts, battle victories etc. – hence why so many objects are people and animals.
- Broadcasting information in Ogham – making use of existing surfaces.
Surfaces being used for different beliefs and reverences in the same timeframe suggests acceptance and tolerance. This could have facilitated, in time, transition from one belief to another – particularly from Mithraic to Christian. Inclusion of non-religious carvings in way of commemorations, such as hunts and battles, implies acceptability for multiple use. Carving a range of objects “in the same hand” (as can be seen on many Stones) suggests some form of peaceful co-existence, maybe integration.
Descriptions in ten Case Studies reinforces that Class 1 and Class 2 Stones accommodated carvings representing different beliefs.
Ultimately, success for an enduring Shared Space on Pictish Symbol Stones can be seen from the almost total lack of being defaced, disfigured or otherwise damaged – the Stones look little different today as they would have done when they were originally carved.
Overall – YES – a Shared Space was successfully enabled.
However, not only did the carvers create and collectively use that Shared Space on the surface of Symbol Stones, they arguably caused another Shared Space to be established – Places for Worship.
Click here for more detail in the PDF – Was a Shared Space Successfully Enabled?
With stone structures in Pictland having existed prior to the period of Pictish Symbol Stones it is useful to place this conclusion in a wider context. Changes in Beliefs – Bigger Picture – extends right back to the Bronze Age covering the full width of use and re-use of stones in circles and monoliths with associated beliefs.