MHG39735 - Dunrobin, Dairy Park, long cists and symbol stone


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • FINDSPOT (Pictish - 300 AD to 900 AD)
  • INSCRIBED STONE (Pictish to Early Medieval - 300 AD to 1057 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NC80SW 24 8494 0057.

NC 8494 0047 (OS 6"map, annotated by J Close-Brooks 13 February 1977).
A long cist, partly covered by a Class I symbol stone and containing the skeletons of two adult males, one, of a man 6ft tall, being larger, later and much better preserved than the other, was found by workmen levelling the E part of the field below Castle Dairy (NC 8475 0050), 'six paces west from the new wall of Meg's Garden'. (Information contained in letter from G Gunn to Duke of Sutherland, 17 May 1854:
Ms 606.6 in Aberdeen Unviersity library). A report of the find was sent to the Duke of Sutherland on 17th May 1854 and it was examined by Dr Ross on 24 May.
It was paved, 8ft long NE-SW and the top and sides were each composed of three slabs. One of the cover slabs, of red sandstone, measured 3ft 8ins by 1ft 11ins by 5ins thick, and bore, incised, the fish, the 'tuning fork' and the mirror and comb symbols. The skeletal remains were accompanied by what has been identified as part of the socket of an iron spearhead, possibly Viking (Grieg 1940).
During Ross's visit, the workmen uncovered another long cist of similar construction and orientation, which contained the intact extended skeleton of a male of advanced years, lying with the feet to the NE. The remains were of the same size and condition as that of the primary burial in the first cist. There were neither grave-goods nor sculptures.
The Duke of Sutherland presented the contents of the cists to the NMAS (Acc Nos: ET 26 and IL 209), and the symbol stone is in Dunrobin Museum (Acc No: 1854.1).
These cists, together with that recorded on NC80SW 16, indicate the possible existence of a pre-Norse long cist cemetery comparable to Ackergill (ND35SW 12), with a later, possibly Viking, burial inserted into one of the cists.
(Previous to the publication of J Close-Brooks (1981) these cists were sited to NC 858 010 from Allen's locating them to 'the 50ft contour, half a mile east of Dunrobin Castle'.)
J J Ross 1855; NMAS 1892; J Anderson and J R Allen 1903; RCAHMS 1911;
S Grieg 1940; J Close-Brooks 1981; Information from TS of Catalogue of Dunrobin Museum, by A S Henshall; OS 6"map annotated by A S Henshall,
13 February 1977. <1>-<6>

A stone found in 1854 formed the capstone of a cist; the location (to the SW of the Castle not to the E as was formerly thought) is discussed in Close-Brooks 1980, 343-4. This stone bears the incised symbols of a fish, 'tuning fork', and mirror and comb. Dunrobin Museum.
RCAHMS 1985. <7>

Class I - Dunrobin 1 - symbol stone bearing a salmon over a tuning fork and a mirror-and-comb.
A.Mack 1997 p.124. <8>

Photographs of the Dunrobin 1 symbol stone on display at Dunrobin Museum, were sumbitted to the HER by a participant in a Community Timeline course, run by ARCH. <9>

Dunrobin, Sutherland, Pictish symbol stone
Measurements: H 1.12m, W 0.58m, D 0.13m
Stone type: sandstone
Place of discovery: NC 8494 0057
Present location: Dunrobin Museum (ARC 532), Dunrobin Castle.
Evidence for discovery: found in 1854 re-used as a cover slab (with the carved face uppermost) for one of two long cists located near Dunrobin Castle.
Present condition: good.
This slab bears four finely incised Pictish symbols. At the top is a nicely detailed salmon, beneath is a tuning fork and below that a mirror with a double-sided comb close beside it on the right. The central rib of the comb is decorated with hatched lines.
Date: seventh century.
References: ECMS pt 3, 42; Close-Brooks 1980, 343-4; Fraser 2008, no 138.
Early Medieval Carved Stones Project, Anna Ritchie, 2016

The symbol stone was catalogued during an inventory of Dunrobin Castle Museum's collection in 2019 by ARCH. Listed under Acc. No. 1854.1. It was on display on the lower floor. <10>

Sources/Archives (14)



Grid reference Centred NC 8493 0056 (6m by 6m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC80SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish GOLSPIE

Finds (1)

  • SYMBOL STONE (Pictish - 300 AD to 900 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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