Rare Pictish carving of “big nosed warrior” found near Perth

Detail from the stone found near Perth. PIC: Contributed.
Detail from the stone found near Perth. PIC: Contributed.
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A large Pictish stone decorated with what appears to be a big nosed warrior holding a spear and a club has been found by workmen on the outskirts of Perth.

Work on the upgrade to the A85/A9 junction was halted following the discovery with archaeologists called in to examine the stone.

Mark Hall, of Perth Museum & Art Gallery said the stone carried a type of Pictish carving not seen before in the area.

READ MORE: A brief history of the ancient Pictish kingdom of Scotland

It is likely to be around 1,500 years old and possibly indicates the presence of a high ranking Pictish noble nearby.

A spokesman for Perth and Kinross Council added: “The carving is thought to be extremely significant as very few stones carved with this particular type of image have been found in Scotland and its discovery identifies the importance of the local area in Pictish times.”

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Similar Pictish stones have been discovered in Aberdeenshire, the Highlands and Islands and Shetland.

These all show single figures with grotesque faces and holding one or more weapons.

The new addition from Perth and Kinross shows a figure walking right to left, holding a spear in his right hand. The weapon is typical of spears of the mid first millennium AD. In his left hand he holds a club or a staff however this is unclear.

He appears to be wearing a cloak and shoes and has a very pronounced hair style, with a shaven front scalp. The figure’s face is obscured by wear to the stone but he seems to have had a large nose.

No Pictish archaeological sites are known in the immediate vicinity of where the new carving was found but the stone does suggest the presence of a powerful noble locally.

The stone probably served to warn travellers and visitors that they were approaching his residence or territory.

Examination of the stone continues and The Scottish Treasure Trove has been notified.

The carving will be allocated to a museum in due course.

Leader of Perth & Kinross Council, Councillor Ian Campbell said: “I am led to believe Pictish symbol stones come in many shapes and sizes, and date broadly to the sixth-eighth centuries AD.

“I understand very little is known about the purpose of Pictish stones and the real meaning of the symbols they carry. In terms of their function, theories include their serving as grave markers or memorials to Pictish nobles, or their standing as territorial markers.

“I look forward to hearing what the experts conclude from their examination of this clearly fascinating stone.”

David Strachan of Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the finders of the carving for drawing it to our attention.

“This is a really significant find as there are very few such stones known in Scotland, it’s a signal of the importance of the area in Pictish times.”