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This Pictish symbol-incised cross-slab is carved from a slab of mica-rich grey granite with mica bands visible across the surface. It has clearly been damaged and reworked in the past; a chunk of the missing portion on its left side today survives as a separate fragment. Its main face is carved in relief with an ornate Latin cross and four Pictish symbols. To the left of the cross, forming one pair, is a crescent and V-rod above a triple disc, and to the cross’s right is a ‘mirror- case’ with, below it and extending under the shaft, a double-disc and Z-rod. An ogham inscription, incised along the entire length of the right hand side of the stone, reads:

EOTTASSARRHETODDEDDOTSMAQQROGODDADD.

The meaning is unclear, but the portion following the MAQQ (‘mac’ or ‘son of’) may be a (Brittonic) Pictish personal name – rogododd. The portion preceding the MAQQ is difficult to interpret but one of the words is also likely to be a personal name.

Found in Dyce churchyard and now on display in the church, Dyce, Aberdeenshire.

Dyce Symbol Stones

Mysterious inscription 

Along the length of the cross-slab’s right-hand side we can see an inscription in ogham. This is one of about 30 examples of this linear lettering found on Pictish stones. It consists of groups of horizontal or diagonal strokes along or across a vertical line. 

The inscription on the Dyce cross-slab reads: 

EOTTASSARRHETODDEDDOTSMAQQROGODDADD 

What it means is a mystery. The last portion could be a person’s name, Rogoddadd. The rest can’t be interpreted, but the first portion might also be a personal name, giving the inscription, ‘??? ??? son of Rogoddadd’. 

Ogham seems to have been introduced to the Picts by AD 600. Unlike Latin script, it could be easily carved into wood or stone – but it was only suitable for brief messages. 

Something in the symbols 

The ogham is not the only noteworthy carving on the Dyce Symbol Stones. The older of the two stones, a pink-red granite symbol stone, carries a swimming beast above a double disc and Z-rod. Each disc features an inner circle and central dot. 

The cross-slab features a boldly-sculpted cross, entirely filled with interlace. Clustered around the cross are four symbols: 

  • a crescent and a V-rod above a triple disc on the left 

  • a mirror case on the right 

  • a double disc and Z-rod below the mirror case 

Evidence points to Dyce as the site of an early and important Pictish church. The presence of the earlier symbol stone may suggest it was originally a pagan site that was converted to Christian use. 

Legacy of the Picts 

We don’t know a lot about the Picts, the descendants of Iron-Age tribes who occupied the area north of the Forth and Clyde estuaries in the first millennium AD. They left about 300 carved stones, mainly in the north-east of the country. The earliest of these stones date to about AD 600 and display a characteristic repertoire of symbols.  

The later group of Pictish stones, after about AD 700, were more overtly Christian. On these, the Christian cross dominates the traditional symbols. 

We don’t know why the Picts erected these stones. They might be: 

  • memorials to warriors 

  • boundary markers between neighbouring tribes 

  • representing marriage alliances 

Whatever their purpose, they are skilfully executed works of art. 

Find out more about Dyce Symbol Stones

Details

Date Made
Late 9th century
Dimensions
w 615mm (w 2' 3/16")
Property Information
Dyce Symbol Stones
Object Number
DYC002
Access Status
Display

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