The Drosten stone – one of Scotland’s premier monuments – came to light during restoration work at St Vigeans Church, near Arbroath, in the 1870s. A rare example of Pictish writing, the Drosten stone is just one in an astounding collection of exquisitely preserved Pictish sculptures discovered in and around the church, now preserved by Historic Environment Scotland in the adjacent museum.
The carvings on these stones revel in Pictish inventiveness, teeming with lively naturalistic animals and innovative compositions of monsters and people, as well as both Pictish symbols and everyday objects. The sculptures’ iconography also draws on a deep knowledge of Christian and classical literature, witness to a highly literate and cosmopolitan society.
This definitive study of St Vigeans’ Pictish stones, generously illustrated with plates of the full collection, begins in the recent past, when the sculptures began to emerge as a remarkable historic entity. It then explores the history of the sculptures, including an analysis of the carvings, the geology of the stones and attempts to extract meaning and context for this unique stone collection as part of a powerful ecclesiastical landscape.