MHG45523 - Pictish symbol stone - St Ninians Chapel, Navidale


Findspot of an Early medieval symbol stone.

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Findspot of an Early Medieval symbol stone.

No trace of the chapel remains.
Visited by OS (J B) 24 June 1976.

The site of St. Ninian's Chapel of which no trace now remains (OS {W D J}). It is said to have had a sanctuary (Mackay 1894) and to have been burned by MacKays in 1556.
This site is presumably source of 'named' element in name 'Navidale' the implication of which is that Norse found a 'nemed' or sacred place here and named the 'dale' after it (Watson 1926). This pre-Norse foundation would appear to be confirmed by the finding of a Class 1 symbol stone in the burial ground, which is still in use and in which burnt stones are occasionally found during grave-digging.
Within the modern, hexagonal graveyard, which may preserve the outline of an earlier enclosure, is a roughly made oval, mounded area, covering greater part of interior and merging with walls on the NW & SE (Macdonald and Laing 1973). St. Ninian's Well lies nearby,on a pasture stretch on shore but could not be located in 1960 (OS {W D J}).
Within the graveyard was found a burial consisting of human bones, a flint implement and part of a palmated antler of one of the larger, extinct deer (Scott 1918).
The symbol stone, (found 1968) now in Dunrobin Museum No 25, is an un dressed rectangular slab, of local red sandstone, measuring 3ft 2ins by 1ft 6ins, and bearing, incised, a 'cauldron' symbol and a possible unfinished 'Pictish elephant'. This, together with the fact that the stone shows tooling towards the base, suggests that it is an unfinished work, produced near its findspot (Macdonald and Laing 1973).
Metric measurement - 0.94m x 0.43m x 0.08m thick.
R Gordon 1813; J Mackay 1894; A B Scott 1918; W J Watson 1926; A D S Macdonald and L R Laing 1973; Visited by OS (W D J) 26 May 1960.

'Site of St. Ninian's Chapel (NR)' marked on the 2nd ed 6" OS map of Caithness of 1909
Recorded as a find spot. Nothing visible during field survey.

For Dunrobin Museum see NC80SE 46.
Class I symbol stone bearing a triple-disc over an elephant
A.Mack 1997 p.127

Navidale (St Ninian), Sutherland, Pictish symbol stone
Measurements: H 0.94m, W 0.43m, D 0.08m
Stone type: purple sandstone
Place of discovery: ND 0419 1615
Present location: Dunrobin Museum (ARC 559), Dunrobin Castle.
Evidence for discovery: found in the graveyard in 1968, close to the seashore.
Present condition: the wear on this slab is likely to be the result of wave action.
The slab has two incised symbols on one broad face. The uppermost is a well-cut triple disc, with detail of the fitting on either side by which the smaller discs (the handles of the cauldron) were attached, and a circle in the centre of the large disc. Below are faint traces of a Pictish beast, and it has been suggested that the carving is unfinished but it seems more likely that it has simply worn away.
Date: seventh century.
References: Fraser 2008, no 147.
Compiled by A Ritche 2016, Early Medieval Carved Stones Project

Sources/Archives (10)



Grid reference Centred ND 0418 1615 (6m by 6m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND01NW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish KILDONAN

Finds (1)

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

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (1)

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