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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 664958

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NH87NE 7 8730 7688

(NH 8730 7688) Site of Standing Stone (NR) (Sculptured)

OS 6" map, Ross-shire, 2nd ed., (1907).

See also NH87NE 6.

The Hilton of Cadboll stone originally stood near the ruins of the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary (NH87NE 6). It was used as a gravestone in 1676 when the ornamentation on one face was removed and a 17th century inscription substituted.

Afterwards it lay near the seashore until c.1811 and was later removed to Invergordon Castle for preservation. In 1922 it was presented to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS), Edinburgh. (IB 189)

It is an upright cross-slab of rectangular shape 7 3/4 feet high by 4 1/2 feet wide.

J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1922.

No further information.

Visited by OS (I S S) 5 September 1972.

Class II symbol stone. The cross on face has been destroyed. On the reverse are a mounted female figure accompanied by other mounted figures,musicians and animals in a detailed hunting scene. A mirror and comb lie to the left and are surmounted by a crescent and V-rod: a double-disc and Z-rod are seen in a frame above.

A Mack 1997.

Pictish cross-slab (site of) - outside survey area.

CFA/MORA Coastal Assessment Survey 1998.

NH 8730 7688 As part of the ongoing assessment of the archaeological context of the scatter of stone debitage identified in July 1998, an area W of the chapel ruins (NMRS NH87NE 6) was sampled and all stone fragments retrieved in January and February 2001. This exercise revealed the apparent stump of the Cadboll Stone itself still in situ, with surviving carving visible. This discovery had obvious implications for a clearer understanding of the archaeological context of the stone. The removal of one face of the stone in the 17th century for its recycling as a gravemarker had created the stone scatter, but the discovery of part of the stone in situ prompted a review of the programme of investigation. Further work was later carried out by GUARD (see below). At this stage, some 737 fragments were recorded in database form, including both plain and decorated fragments.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Murray and G Ewart 2001.

NH 8731 7687 Further excavations were undertaken at the Hilton of Cadboll site in August and September 2001. The excavations aimed to retrieve all the remaining carved fragments from the 9th-century Pictish slab (NMRS NH87NE 7) which is thought to have been defaced in the 17th century; to reveal the extent of the stump which was found earlier in the year by Kirkdale Archaeology (see above); and to relate the stump with the chapel and the outer enclosure.

The excavations revealed that there were at least two settings for the Hilton stone about 6m outside the W gable of the chapel. The discovery of broken collar slabs and other flat slabs were indicative of some complexity in the setting and possible associated burials.

The stump was excavated and taken for temporary storage locally. The newly revealed W face depicts a cross base and interlaced beasts and the E face completed the bottom panel of the Hilton of Cadboll stone, with a gap of about 0.2m. The slab had broken at the top and the bottom and there was still a fragment of the tenon in one of the settings. The bottom of the designed panels are not level on either side, and there are rough marking out lines below the panel on the E face suggesting some redesigning of the E face.

The chapel wall was constructed of massive sandstone blocks, bonded with shell mortar, with a rubble core. No direct dating evidence was found but it is thought to be a medieval chapel, which perhaps went out of use at the Reformation. The outer enclosure bank consisted of a drystone wall with an earthen bank probably of post-medieval date.

Three skeletons were excavated and another two were partly revealed. These had different alignments, from SW-NE to N-S, indicating a range of dates. These individuals were not buried in stone cists, suggesting that they were medieval and post-medieval.

About 500 carved fragments were retrieved from the excavations, thought to be derived from the lost cross face and from the damaged E face. These include figurative pieces as well as interlacing, bosses and key patterning. (GUARD 1078).

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, National Museum of Scotland, Highland Council, Ross & Cromarty Enterprise.

H F James 2001.

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