MHG47323 - Carved grave marker or grave cover fragment, Rosemarkie No. 13 - Courthill House, Rosemarkie


This grave marker or grave cover fragment is decorated in relief on one side with the upper half of a ringed cross with semi-circular hollow armpits. In each corner is a pair of intertwined serpents. The carving is now quite shallow, having suffered much weathering. Discovered in a rockery at Courthill, Rosemarkie, in 1975.

Type and Period (1)

  • CROSS SLAB (Pictish to Early Medieval - 300 AD to 1057 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Fragment of cross-slab, bearing a ring-headed cross in low relief, broken across the midline of the transverse arms. Pairs of spirally-entwined serpents fill the intervening panels (Inverness Museums and Galleries, INVMG 1978.259).

Rosemarkie 13, Ross & Cromarty, cross-slab fragment relief
Measurements: H 0.32m, W 0.42m, D 0.08m
Stone type: sandstone
Place of discovery: NH 737 576
Present location: Inverness Museum & Art Galley (INVMG.1978.259), on loan to Groam House Museum.
Evidence for discovery: found in the churchyard in Rosemarkie.
Present condition: broken lower edge, carving very worn.
This is the top portion of a cross-slab, carved in relief on one broad face with a ringed cross within a roll moulded border. The cross and its ring, of which only the upper part survives, is outlined by an internal incised line, and its armpits are circular. The upper arm is longer than the side arms, and all three arms extend to the border of the slab. Appearing to hang from the top moulding on either side of the upper arms are two double spirals or possibly serpents.
Date: early ninth century.
References: Seright & Henderson 2013, 11.
Early Medieval Carved Stones Project, Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2017.

There is a document of correspondance in Inverness Museum's archive files regarding the loan of the object from Inverness Museum to Groam House Museum in 1987. It is described in this letter to have been found sometime before 1977 in the garden of Courthill, Rosemarkie, whilst digging in the rockery areas. <1>

Found in a rockery at Courthill, Rosemarkie in 1975. It was donated to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery in 1978. The fragment is decorated in relief on one side with the upper half of a ringed cross with semicircular hollow armpits. Both cross and ring have a contour moulding. The slab is edged with a plain moulding and has a slightly convex top. In each corner is a pair of intertwined serpents. Their extremities touch the top border of the slab and the ring of the cross. Small cross-slabs of this type are rare north of the Grampian mountains. The snakes recall the imagery of the high-relief snake ornament of large Easter Ross slabs. Serpents were symbolic of both good and evil. On a cross-slab they most likely allude to the snake's habit of renewing its skin. This characteristic was symbolic of the renewal of Salvation, made possible for mankind by Christ's death and resurrection. <2>

NGR adjusted based on 2009 aerial photographs. <3>

Note; Find location recorded on Canmore appears incorrect. Location corrected to Courthill House garden. Precise find spot not known so indicative find area only (T.Blackie 15.2.2021).

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NH 735 576 (6m by 6m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH75NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

Finds (1)

  • CARVED OBJECT (Early Medieval - 561 AD to 1057 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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