MHG1410 - Runic Cross and Burials - near Old St. Peter's Church, Thurso


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • GRAVE (Norse - 800 AD? to 1300 AD?)
  • RUNE STONE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

See also:
ND16NW0010 Church
ND16NW0299 Font
ND16NW0301 Runic inscribed cross
JHooper, 15/11/2001

In the museum at Thurso is a cross roughly hewn out of a slab of Caithness flagstone bearing on its shaft an inscription in Scandinavian runes. It was found when some old buildings were taken down near the E. end of St Peter's Church, Thurso, in 1896. At a depth of some 5' from ordinary level were found in the course of excavation two cists containing human skeletons. On the top of the larger cist, which contained the remains of an adult buried in a contracted position, lay the cross slab. Its whole length is 2' 9". The shaft measures 2' 1 1/2" in length by 61/4 in breadth at the lower end, tapering slightly to 5 3/4" at the intersection of the arms. The cross head measures 8" across, the projection of the arms being less than 2", and their vertical width at the ends 4 3/4". The summit is partially broken away, so that it only rises 1 1/2" above the arms and shows a breadth of 4 3/4". The thickness of the slab throughout is 1 1/2".
The inscription, which is somewhat irregularly cut along one side of the obverse in letters varying from 3" to 4" in height, reads from the base upwards (the lower part of the shaft containing its commencement is awanting), and has been interpreted
- made overlay this after Ingulf father his
Visited by RCAHMS, 21 September 1910.

ND16NW 17 1206 6861.
Two graves lying E-W and formed of rough stones set on edge were found in April 1896 across street from E end of St Peter's Church (ND16NW 10), while digging foundations of a herring kippering kiln. The smaller grave, about half size of other, contained bones of a small body. The large grave measured about 3ft 6ins in length and contained a crouched skeleton. On top of the grave was a runic inscribed cross of Caithness flag-stone, 2ft 9ins long.
The inscription, which has been translated, may be 11th century. As site of these graves is only 12 yds E of E end of St Peter's Church, this postulates a greater eastward extent of burial ground and adds to probability of apsidal structure being of 12th century date. The Norse line ended in 1231.
J Anderson 1897; J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; RCAHMS 1911; A O Curle, M Olsen and H Shetelig 1954.

The grave find was sited to ND12066861 from info above. Works premises now occupy the site. The runic cross is in Thurso Museum and is dated there to about 1000 AD.
Visited by OS (E G C) 18 April 1962.

Thurso, St Peter’s Church 1, Caithness, cruciform slab with runic inscription
Measurements: H 0.84m, W 0.15m to 0.20m, D 0.04m
Stone type: Old Red Sandstone
Place of discovery: ND 1206 6861
Present location: Caithness Horizons, Thurso.
Evidence for discovery: found in April 1896 during demolition of houses near the E end of St Peter’s Church. It formed the cover slab of a stone cist containing a crouched inhumation. It was taken to Thurso Museum.
Present condition: damaged but the carving is clear.
The slab is truncated at both ends. It has been dressed roughly into the form of a cross with very short side arms (less than 0.05m) and the runic inscription runs along the shaft towards the cross-head. The centre of the cross-head bears an incised linear cross. The inscription reads ‘(...) made this overlay after Ingulf his/her father’. The use of the term ‘overlay’ and the provenance of the slab are thought to indicate that it was designed to be a recumbent slab.
Date range: twelfth century.
References: ECMS pt 3, 36-7; Liestøl 1984, 228.
Compiled by A Ritchie, Early Medieval Carved Stones Project, 2016

The stone is listed in the Caithness Horizons catalogue and is listed under Acc. No. ARC63. <1>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred ND 1206 6860 (10m by 10m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND16NW
Civil Parish THURSO
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (1)

  • RUNE STONE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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