MHG8830 - Carved stone panel fragment, Rosemarkie No.3 - Rosemarkie Church graveyard


Part of a sculpted slab carved in relief on one face with part of a narrative scene involving beasts and a human head. Original on display in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and a cast is in Groam House Museum. Discovered in the churchyard and presented to the NMS in 1885.

Type and Period (1)

  • CARVED STONE (Pictish to Early Medieval - 300 AD to 1057 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

No. 3 A fragment of a Class 3 cross-slab dug up in the churchyard and donated to the RMS(NMAS) by Rev C Macdowall in 1885 ( IB 127), measures 11.5ins x 9ins x 2ins thick. One face bears a representation of a beast attacking a man.
J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; RCAHMS 1979.

Rosemarkie 3, Ross & Cromarty, possible panel fragment
Measurements: H 0.25m, W 0.27m, D 0.05m
Stone type: sandstone
Place of discovery: NH 7372 5763
Present location: National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh (IB 127) (cast in Groam House Museum).
Evidence for discovery: found during grave-digging in the churchyard at Rosemarkie and given to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in 1885.
Present condition: all the edges are broken but the condition of the surviving carving is good.
This tantalisingly small fragment is carved in relief on one face with part of a narrative scene involving beasts and a human head. The head is seen in profile facing left, with strongly defined nose, large eye, pointed beard and long hair, and the neck appears to the body of an animal. His nose is being licked by a large animal with bared teeth, its jaw and neck outlined by an inner incised line. Behind the man the snout of an animal grasps his hair, and below his head a third beast seems to be sniffing him intently. The first and third beasts have the same shell-like ear. Above this menacing scene are the four taloned feet of a large creature, the rest of whose body is missing.
Date: eighth or ninth century.
References: ECMS pt 3, 86-7; Henderson 1990, [15-16[; Henderson & Henderson 2004, 155; Seright & Henderson 2013, 11.
Ealry Medieval Carved Stones Project, A Ritchie 2017. <1>

This is a cast of a fragment thought to have been discovered while digging a grave in Rosemarkie churchyard. It was presented to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland by the Reverend Charles Macdowall (Parish minister, Rosemarkie) in 1885 through Major Colin Mackenzie, F.S.A., Flowerburn, Rosemarkie. The fragment is decorated on one face in relief. At the top, the legs of a talon-footed creature move to the right. Touching its front foot, but moving to the left, is the pad of another, presumably antagonistic, creature. Below, the profile head of a bearded man is attached to a neck, presumably human, although the shoulder line would be appropriate to a human-headed quadruped. The head is being attacked by three fierce animals; the largest bites at his nose while two similar but smaller animals respectively bite his hair and push at his chest. The aggression displayed by the animals makes it unlikely that the scene represents, as has been said, Daniel in the Den of the Lions. It is more likely to represent either a native heroic story or the fate of the wicked, to be dragged into hell by loathsome beasts. <2>

Note; Precise find spot not known so indicative find area only (T.Blackie 3/3/2021).

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NH 7371 5761 (4m by 4m) (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 (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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