The Picts lived in northern and eastern Scotland over 1000 years ago. Words such as ‘mysterious’ and ‘enigmatic’ have been used many times in the past to describe these northern tribes, reflecting on how little is known about them.
They left little or nothing in terms of written records, at most a few indecipherable fragments incised on stone monuments written in the ancient Irish script ‘ogham’ (pronounced o-am). Most of what we know about them derives from three sources; firstly, accounts written by their contemporaries – notably the Romans, Irish, Welsh and Anglo-Saxons, secondly from archaeological evidence and thirdly from their spectacular art found principally on symbol stones, scattered across the Scottish countryside.
In this blog, I am going to concentrate principally on the Pictish symbol stones, not only to emphasise their beauty and craftmanship but to explore something of their meaning. I will also include my own pictures of stones that I have visited as well as links to other pictures from other websites. In the next few months I will also provide the reader with more information on my forthcoming book on Pictish symbols, which will hopefully answer many of the questions on their function and meaning.
Image below: Aberlemno 1, Angus. A so-called class 1 stone (see section on Pictish symbol stones for explanation of classes), featuring a serpent, a double disc with z-rod and mirror and comb symbols.