Archaeologists uncover Pictish inscribed stone in Scotland

Archaeologists have uncovered a Pictish stone with 1,500-year-old inscriptions near Doune in Scotland.

The Picts were a group of people who inhabited the areas of Northern and Eastern Scotland (north of the Firth of Forth) during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.

- Advertisement -

Picts are assumed to have been the descendants of the Caledonii and other Iron Age tribes, mentioned by Roman historians or on the world map of Ptolemy. The Picts, or “Painted People,” were so-named around the 3rd century AD as a generalised exonym used by the Romans to describe those Britons north of the Forth–Clyde isthmus.

Roman historians described their war paint and tattoos, with the Latin word “picti” meaning “paint”. The name continued to be used by outsiders, notably the Irish Annalists and scholars such as Bede from the Kingdom of Northumbria of the Angles during the Middle Ages.

Image Credit : Murray Cook

A team of archaeologists and volunteers discovered a cross slab stone in the Old Kilmadock cemetery near Doune, a burgh within Perthshire. The stone has a mysterious inscription written in a medieval alphabet called ogham, and animal figural decorations depicting carved birds that dates to between AD 500 to 700.

The stone likely survived as it was reused in much later times as a grave covering in the cemetery, giving the researchers new insights into the ogham language which were generally inscribed on stones to spell out the names of wealthy or powerful people. Around 400 ogham inscriptions have been identified, mostly in Ireland, but the new discovery at Old Kilmadock is the first example to be found in central Scotland with this mysterious alphabet.

- Advertisement -

Speaking to Live Science, Stirling Council archaeologist Murray Cook suggests that the stone was “”a public statue erected by a wealthy patron to celebrate both their Pictish heritage and their Christian faith. The ogham reflects the influence of Irish Christians.”

This interpretation is supported by three additional stones found previously in the cemetery that have two different alphabets. “I think this means they were a literate and an intelligent religious community,” Cook said; there was “probably a monastery.”

Header Image Credit : Murray Cook


- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Study confirms palace of King Ghezo was site of voodoo blood rituals

A study, published in the journal Proteomics, presents new evidence to suggest that voodoo blood rituals were performed at the palace of King Ghezo.

Archaeologists search for home of infamous Tower of London prisoner

A team of archaeologists are searching for the home of Sir Arthur Haselrig, a leader of the Parliamentary opposition to Charles I, and whose attempted arrest sparked the English Civil War.

Tartessian plaque depicting warrior scenes found near Guareña

Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology of Mérida (IAM) and the CSIC have uncovered a slate plaque depicting warrior scenes at the Casas del Turuñuelo archaeological site.

Archaeologists find a necropolis of stillborn babies

Excavations by the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) have unearthed a necropolis for stillborn and young children in the historic centre of Auxerre, France.

Researchers find historic wreck of the USS “Hit ‘em HARDER”

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) has confirmed the discovery of the USS Harder (SS 257), an historic US submarine from WWII.

Archaeologists uncover Roman traces of Vibo Valentia

Archaeologists from the Superintendent of Archaeology Fine Arts and Landscape have made several major discoveries during excavations of Roman Vibo Valentia at the Urban Archaeological Park.

Archaeologists uncover crypts of the Primates of Poland

Archaeologists have uncovered two crypts in the collegiate church in Łowicz containing the Primates of Poland.

Giant prehistoric rock engravings could be territorial markers

Giant rock engravings along the Upper and Middle Orinoco River in South America could be territorial markers according to a new study.