Brandsbutt Stone

  • Inverurie, Aberdeenshire



Enigmas in stone 

We do not know why the Picts carved and erected the 300 stones scattered about Scotland. The earliest examples, such as the Brandsbutt Stone, probably date to about AD 600, though it is notoriously difficult to date them precisely 

These stones have symbols carved directly into the stone. They may have been intended as: 

  • memorials to warriors 
  • boundary markers between tribes 
  • representations of allegiances 

Pictish stone carvers were certainly skilled craftspeople creating real works of art – take a look at the detail on the serpent on the Brandsbutt Stone. 

Other Pictish stones, probably dating after AD 700, are perhaps less mysterious. On these stones, the Christian cross dominates the traditional symbols. They were mostly used as: 

  • grave markers 
  • grave covers 
  • aids to worship  

The Brandsbutt Stone was probably part of a prehistoric stone circle before it was reused as a symbol stone. The Picts, particularly in north-eastern Scotland, often repurposed prehistoric sites to create spaces probably used for ritual activities. 

Alphabetical import 

Rising up the left-hand side of the Brandsbutt Stone is an inscription in Ogham, an Irish alphabet of straight lines, which  was adopted by the Picts. It has been interpreted as reading ‘IRATADDOARENS’ – possibly a personal name.  

More than 30 ogham inscriptions have been found in regions occupied by the Picts, dating to between AD 500 and 1000. The presence of Ogham inscriptions provide important evidence for the nature and extent of early literacy in Scotland. They’re particularly useful for examining the relationship between Pictish and Gaelic. 

Opening times

Open year-round.

Historic Scotland


Download our visitor app

Discover more on the go – the Historic Scotland app lets you find out about Scotland’s most iconic places wherever you are.

Plan your visit

More than 20 of our sites are now open. Please book your tickets in advance.

Become a member

Join Historic Scotland to visit our properties free of charge for a full year and support our work at the same time.

Hire a site for filming

Use one of our fantastic locations on your next shoot for an awe-inspiring backdrop to your work.

Learning visits

Our 300+ historic places serve as creative inspiration for all sorts of learning activities – and for learners of all ages.

Search our events

See the past brought to life by the imaginative year-round programme of events at our properties.