Scheduled Monument

Rhynie Parish Church, two symbol stones 25m ESE ofSM11869

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
20/03/2007
Type
Crosses and carved stones: symbol stone
Local Authority
Aberdeenshire
Parish
Rhynie
NGR
NJ 49810 27149
Coordinates
349810, 827149

Description

The monument comprises two Pictish symbol-bearing stones standing on the village green at Rhynie where they flank the entrance at the NW end of the square.

The S stone is a granite boulder measuring 70cm by 50cm by 30cm (known as Rhynie 3). Earlier observers describe this stone as incised with the figure of a man with a shield and a horseshoe or arch composed of five parallel arcs. The figure was shown walking from right to left, wearing a cloak, holding a ball-ended staff (probably a spear) in his left hand and carrying a small rectangular shield. In 1996, the RCAHMS could only see faint traces of the carving; the stone is very worn and areas of the surface have flaked off.

The N stone is a smaller granite boulder 59cm by 48cm by 19cm (known as Rhynie 2) which bears a double-disc and Z-rod above a crescent and V-rod (the stone was re-erected upside down). Again there is now no trace of the carving.

The two symbol-bearing stones are said to have been moved around 1836 when the turnpike road was built at Rhynie, near the Plough Inn. A number of human bones were dug up near the site at the same time. After an interval in which they were placed beside the Howies Inn, the stones were removed in 1864 to the centre of the market square facing the church. They were removed from the centre of the square and placed together at the NW end of the square when the war memorial was erected in around 1918.

The area to be scheduled is composed of two circles, centred on each of the stones as described above and as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The monumentis archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: Both symbol stones have the potential to enhance the study of Pictish symbol stones and the development of Insular art in Britain and Ireland. While the carvings are worn, future recording techniques may have the potential to recover more detail of their original form and the stones have added importance when considered as part of the group of stones found in Rhynie.

Contextual characteristics: Although both stones no longer stand where they were originally erected, they are still closely associated with the locality. The Picts used symbols in a range of contexts, but the majority of surviving examples are found carved on stones. The earliest examples are found on unshaped stones (around 200 examples survive). The meaning of the symbols is much debated, but they may represent personal names. The Rhynie examples probably date to the 6th or 7th centuries AD. Stones carved with human figures are rare.

Six symbol-bearing stones and two figure-bearing stones have been found in Rhynie. Isabel Henderson suggests the importance of Rhynie as a disseminating area for symbol-incised stones.

Associative characteristics: The Rhynie stones can best be understood in the context of the symbol-bearing stones erected in the E of Scotland during the 6th and 7th centuries AD. While the symbol designs are unique to the Picts, their content provides evidence for how the art of the Picts relates to the Insular art style of this period, and the relationship to art in different media, such as metalwork. Again, this provides important evidence for the relationship between the Picts and their early medieval neighbours. Although all but the Craw Stane (Rhynie 1) have lost their original landscape setting, it is known approximately where most of the Rhynie stones were first found, if not precisely where they originally stood. This means that as a group they can offer insights into the siting of symbol stones that are otherwise lacking in finds elsewhere. The records indicate that the stones were originally disposed in two groups, one focused on the knoll at the S end of the village, the other around the Craw Stane, each group bearing an incised figure.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular of the culture of the Picts in Aberdeenshire and their cultural links with other areas of Scotland and the British Isles. The information available on the original locations of these stones, and their group value as two of the eight symbol-bearing stones that have been located in the Ryynie area, enhances this potential.

References

Bibliography

The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NJ42NE 32.2.

References:

Allen J R and Anderson J 1903, THE EARLY CHRISTIAN MONUMENTS OF SCOTLAND: A CLASSIFIED ILLUSTRATED DESCRIPTIVE LIST OF THE MONUMENTS WITH AN ANALYSIS OF THEIR SYMBOLISM AND ORNAMENTATION, Edinburgh Pt 3, 182.

Henderson G and Henderson I 2004, THE ART OF THE PICTS, London, 60, 79, 87-88, 90, 129.

Jackson A 1984, THE SYMBOL STONES OF SCOTLAND: A SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF THE PICTS, Kirkwall.

Logan J 1829, OBSERVATIONS ON SEVERAL MONUMENTAL STONES IN THE NORTH OF SCOTLAND, Archaeologia 22, 55.

Mack A 1997, FIELD GUIDE TO THE PICTISH SYMBOL STONES, Balgavies, Angus, 88.

ORDNANCE SURVEY NAME BOOK (COUNTY), Original Name Books of the Ordnance Survey, Book No. 78, 129, 137, 146.

RCAHMS 1994, PICTISH SYMBOL STONES: A HANDLIST 1994, Edinburgh, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 10.

RCAHMS, forthcoming Strathdon Survey.

Ritchie J N G 1985, PICTISH SYMBOL STONES: A HANDLIST 1985, Edinburgh, 7.

Shepherd I A G and Shepherd A N 1978, 'An incised Pictish figure and a new symbol stone from Barflat, Rhynie, Gordon District', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 109, 211-22.

Smith A N 2000, 'MATERIAL CULTURE AND NORTH SEA CONTACTS IN THE FIFTH TO SEVENTH CENTURIES AD', in The prehistory and Early History of Atlantic Europe: papers from a session held at the European Association of Archaeologists fourth annual meeting in Goteborg 1998, BAR International Series 861, Oxford.

Stuart J 1856a, SCULPTURED STONES OF SCOTLAND, 1, Aberdeen, 5.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

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