Scheduled Monument

Clach Chairidh, symbol stoneSM1673

Status: Designated

Documents

Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/termsandconditions).

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.

Summary

Date Added
29/12/1970
Last Date Amended
02/11/2011
Supplementary Information Updated
15/12/2017
Type
Crosses and carved stones: symbol stone, Prehistoric ritual and funerary: standing stone
Local Authority
Highland
Parish
Edderton
NGR
NH 70837 85073
Coordinates
270837, 885073

Description

The monument is a standing stone, decorated with Pictish symbols, situated on a natural eminence in a pasture field on the N edge of Edderton village. The stone stands within a small fenced enclosure approximately 135m SSW of the Ardmore Lodge Hotel (also known as the Edderton Inn). The standing stone itself was erected probably in the Neolithic or Bronze Age period, between about 4000 BC and 1500 BC. It was re-used probably some time between 500 AD and 700 AD when Pictish symbols were carved on it. The monument was first scheduled in 1970, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The stone stands to a height of approximately 3m and, at its base, measures around 1m by 0.5m NW-SE. The stone tapers to a natural point on its top, which accounts for its alternative name of Clach Biorach, meaning 'the Pointed Stone'. The stone bears three Pictish symbols: a large and well-defined leaping salmon; a double disc; and a Z-rod. Around the base of the stone is a spread of apparent cairn material comprised of small and medium-sized rounded stones.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

Clach Chairidh is a well-preserved prehistoric standing stone, later inscribed with three large Pictish symbols. Apparently undisturbed and in its original situation, the stone occupies a prominent place in the landscape. Clach Chairidh belongs to the early Class 1 type of Pictish carvings, which are usually found on unshaped boulders or large monoliths. The Picts often seem to have preferred to re-use much older standing stones, and it may be that these were thought to have special significance because of their perceived antiquity.

Given the apparent lack of disturbance to the stone and its immediate surroundings, Clach Chairidh offers high potential for the survival of buried evidence relating to the original erection of the stone, together with traces of the activities and rituals that would have occurred at and around the stone in prehistoric and early medieval times. The role of standing stones in prehistoric society and belief is presently not well understood. Well-preserved sites such as this offer excellent potential to enhance our understanding of these monuments. Equally, the later carvings represent an important element in our understanding of the meaning and function of Pictish art and symbols and may underline the importance of the Edderton area in the early medieval period.

Contextual characteristics

Carvings such as those found on the Clach Chairidh stone are the predominant legacy of the Pictish people, who have left no substantial written records. Pictish art, as seen on carved stones and artefacts, is characterised by depictions of people, animals (both natural and fantastic) and everyday objects, as well as abstract elements. The enigmatic symbols have fascinated antiquarians and archaeologists for many years and numerous potential meanings have been proposed for them.

Clach Chairidh stands in a well-preserved archaeological landscape. A Class III Pictish cross slab, the Edderton Stone, stands about 800m to the south-east in the graveyard at Edderton Free Church. Approximately 80m to the north-east lies a stone circle and possible cairn, probably of Bronze Age date. What may be a second cairn lies approximately 150m to the east. Given that there would have been a clear line of sight between these sites and the standing stone, it is likely that the Bronze Age inhabitants of the area invested this place with some particular significance. To the north there is a hill fort on Creag an Fthithich, which is probably of Iron Age date.

There is an association between Clach Chairidh and the Winter Solstice, which aligns with a prominent gap in the hills to the north. Various theories have been put forward to explain the purpose of standing stones. They include the suggestions that they were markers for astrological phenomena, defined territorial boundaries, or commemorated significant events or individuals. Clach Chairidh may have been an outlier associated with the nearby stone circle and may have played a part in the beliefs or ceremonies attached to that site. These types of monument are found over much of Britain, which suggests that elements of the ritual practices of Neolithic and Bronze Age communities were also widespread.

Associative characteristics

Local tradition asserts that Clach Chairidh marks the grave of Carius, a Danish prince killed at this spot in a skirmish with the Pictish inhabitants of the area.

The stone is first recorded by antiquarians in 1788, who associated it with the stone circle and cist burial some 80m to the north-east. Further descriptions appear in the New Statistical Account and in Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson's 'Early Christian Monuments of Scotland'.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the ritual life of the late Neolithic or Bronze Age period, and the re-use of these monuments in the early historic period for the display of Pictish symbols. Apparently undisturbed, the stone and its immediate surroundings offer excellent potential for the preservation of archaeological deposits relating to its erection and any activities that may have been focussed on this site and the nearby stone circle. In addition, the Pictish carvings are fine examples of their type and add to our overall understanding of these enigmatic symbols. Together with the nearby (later) Edderton Stone, these carvings suggest that this place was important to the Picts over a long period of time. The loss of this monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the beliefs of Neolithic and Bronze Age communities, and Pictish symbols.

References

Bibliography

The site is recorded by the RCAHMS as NH78NW 2 and by the Highland Council Archaeological Service SMR as MHG 8591.

References

Allen J R and Anderson J, 1903, Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol 2, 448

Mack A, 1997, A field guide to the Pictish Stones, Balgavies, Angus, Pinkfoot, 115

NSA, 1845, The New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol 14, Ross-shire, 448

Thom, A , 1970, Megalithic lunar observatories, Oxford

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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Printed: 28/10/2020 17:16