MHG1406 - The Ulbster Stone


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • CROSS SLAB (CULTURE 300; CULTURE PICTISH; , Pictish - 300 AD to 900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Standing Stone (Sculptured) (NAT)
OS 6" map, Caithness, 2nd ed., (1907)

This symbol stone once stood in ancient burial ground attached to ruined church of St Martin at Ulbster (ND34SW 28) and was subsequently placed over a grave there which assisted in the defacement of front side; at some other unknown date it was removed and placed upright on an artificial mound in grounds of Thurso Castle where its exposed position (especially front face turned to Castle and sea) has led to further defacement of the sculpture; front has also been mutilated in upper third with modern inscription in Gothic letters 'The Ulbster Stone' by which name it is also known.
It is a sandstone slab, 5ft high by 7.5ins thick and is 3ft wide at the top but 2ft 6ins at bottom. It is sculptured on two main faces partly in relief and partly with incised lines. This monument has more symbols than any other.
Between 1910, when RCAHMS saw it in grounds of Thurso Castle, and 1956 it has been removed to an unknown site (info from OS revisor).
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910; J R Allen and J Anderson 1903.

This stone now stands in entrance doorway of Thurso Museum. The large artificial mound in grounds of Thurso Castle on which it stood is a reult of landscape gardening (info from Hon R M Sinclair, Thurso East)
Visited by OS (E G C) 18 April 1962.

This stone is now inside Thurso Library and Museum building (Acc No: ARC 64). ND16NW 69.2
Visited by OS (J M) 16 February 1982.

Class II symbol stone.On face is above cross are carved a cow and other animals.Below cross are two kneeling figures with a cauldron together with a horse and a colt.Below these is a serpent and a flower to right.
On reverse is another cross with pairs of symbols in quadrants
Upper left - elephant over a salmon
Upper right - crescent and V-rod over a beast
Lower left - fish-monster over a step
Lower left - double-disc over a double-crescent.
A.Mack 1997 p.131

Stuart, J, 1856, Sculptured stones of Scotland, 14; pl. 40 (Text/Publication/Monograph). SHG350.

Allen and Anderson, J R and J, 1903, The early Christian monuments of Scotland: a classified illustrated descriptive list of the monuments with an analysis of their symbolism and ornamentation, pt. 3, 33-5; illust (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG1883.

RCAHMS, 1911, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness, 122, No. 444 (Text/Report). SHG2664.

Ritchie, J N G, 1985, Pictish symbol stones: a handlist 1985 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2712.

Mack, A, 1997, Field guide to the Pictish symbol stones, 131 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2456.

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred ND 1256 6879 (10m by 10m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet ND16NW
Civil Parish THURSO
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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