Scheduled Monument

Sueno's StoneSM90292

Status: Designated


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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.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Crosses and carved stones: symbol stone
Local Authority
NJ 04651 59534
304651, 859534


The monument comprises a cross-slab dating to the late 1st millennium AD. It is in the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland and is being re-scheduled to clarify the extent of the protected area.

The monument stands within a glass canopy at around 20m OD. It comprises Sueno's Stone, the tallest and most complex piece of early medieval sculpture in Scotland. It is composed of grey sandstone and measures about 7m high, 1.2m wide and about 40cm thick. The W face bears a relief carving of a ring-headed cross, the shaft of which is filled with interlace spiral knotwork. Below the cross are two facing bearded figures, both with smaller attendants behind. The sides of the slab are intricately carved, most notably on the upper half of the S side, where a number of small male figures occupy a vine scroll. The E face of the slab is divided into four unequal panels which can be interpreted as a heroic narrative reading from top to bottom. The top panel depicts a number of horsemen, possibly a leader and his guard arriving for battle. The great central panel is divided into three sections. The top section depicts a scene of battle with the combatants fighting on foot. The middle section shows a besieged stronghold, to the left of which a number of headless corpses are depicted. This scene can be interpreted as an account of the fate of the defeated defenders of the besieged stronghold. The bottom section of the great central panel depicts a group of horsemen fleeing from a group of infantry. The lower two panels of the E face appears to show the final defeat of the defending army. The first depicts piles of headless corpses and severed heads, and the bottom panel shows the dispersal of the defeated army.

Although the stone is traditionally associated with Swein Forkbeard, who attacked London in 994, there appears to be no evidence to support any such connection. It seems that it was already standing by c.1590, the date of Timothy Pont's Map; but it is not known precisely when, why or by whom it was originally erected.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the stone and an area around it within which related material may be expected to be found. It is rectangular, measuring approximately 76m on the NW, 33m on the NE, 79m on the SE and 30m on the SW, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its contribution to our understanding of early medieval sculpture, religion, military techniques and material culture, and the potential of the area surrounding the stone to increase our understanding still further through archaeological excavation. The importance of the site is reflected in it being chosen as a property in care and by its inclusion in the first Schedule of ancient monuments drawn up in 1882.



The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NJ 05 NW 1.


Cross, M. (1994)Bibliography of Monuments in the Care of the Secretary of State for Scotland, 566'7. Glasgow.

McCullagh, R. P. J.(1995)Excavations at Sueno's Stone, Forres, Moray. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 125: 697'718.

Shepherd, I. (1986)Exploring Scotland's Heritage, Grampian. HMSO; Edinburgh.

Southwick, L. (1981)The so'called Sueno's Stone at Forres. Moray District Libraries Publications. Elgin.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Sueno's Stone

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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.

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

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Printed: 29/09/2022 06:53