Puzzle at the enigmatic markings carved into this Pictish stone. The Brandsbutt Stone displays an undeciphered code of symbols and writing.
We know very little about the Picts, descendants of Iron Age tribes who occupied lands north of the Forth and Clyde in the first millennium. They left more than 300 carved stones across the country, though their purpose is unclear.
The Brandsbutt Stone is an excellent example of an early Pictish stone. A 1m-high slab of dark whinstone, its face is incised with a crescent and V-rod above a serpent and Z-rod. Its carvings are dated to around AD 600, but the stone may have originally stood as part of a prehistoric stone circle.
Most interesting is a bold inscription rising up the stone’s left side, written in ogham, an Irish alphabet adopted by the Picts. The inscription is interpreted as reading ‘IRATADDOARENS’ – possibly the name Ethernan (Adrian).