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Skye, Tobar Na Maor, Duirinish

Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish), Well (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Skye, Tobar Na Maor, Duirinish

Classification Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish), Well (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 10831

Site Number NG24NW 3

NGR NG 2408 4648

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Duirinish
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Skye And Lochalsh
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project (7 September 2016)

Tobar na Maor, Skye & Lochalsh, Pictish symbol stone

Measurements: H 0.94m, W 0.39m, D 0.29m

Stone type:

Place of discovery: NG 2408 4648

Present location: at Dunvegan Castle in the basement of the tower.

Evidence for discovery: until 1910 the slab was in use as a cover slab for the well known as Tobar na Maor, near the broch of Dun Osdale. It was taken to the courtyard of Dunvegan Castle and subsequently into the tower.

Present condition: very weathered and some flaking of the edges.


One broad face of this stone is incised with two Pictish symbols, which formerly spanned the width of the stone. An ornamented crescent and V-rod is carved above a triple disc symbol.

Date range: seventh century.

Primary references: Macleod 1912, 211; Fisher 2001, 104-5; Fraser 2008, no 134.

Compiled by A Ritchie 2016


Field Visit (7 May 1915)

Symbol Stone, Dunvegan Castle.

At Dunvegan Castle is preserved the fragment of a symbol stone which originally stood at Tobar na Maor beside Dun Osdale (NG24NW 4). It is a rough block of stone 3 feet 1 inch in breadth and 1 foot 5 inches high. The stone is very much weathered, but the crescent with broken rod and two concentric circles, the outer being 11 ½ inches in diameter, possibly part of the spectacle ornament, can be traced. (Fig. 264.)

RCAHMS 1928, visited 7 May 1915.

OS map: Skye xxi.

External Reference (1980)

The stone is much weathered and measures 0.43 x 0.94m; but the traces of the crescent and V-rod and one pair of concentric circles can be seen. Information from R Jones 1980.

Reference (1997)

Class I symbol stone bearing a crescent and V-rod over a disc.

A.Mack 1997.

Reference (2001)

This symbol-stone was removed to Dunvegan Castle about 1910 (1), and is now displayed in the vaulted basement room of the old tower. It formerly lay on or close to the well known as Tobar na Maor ('well of the steward') (2), on the N side of the road from Dunvegan to Glendale and 80m NW of the broch of Dun Osdale (3).

The slab is of fine-grained stone, measuring 0.94m by 0.39m and 0.29m thick. The upper edge is rounded and the lower part tapers obliquely. The surface is much worn and is flaked at the top and left edge. It is also defaced by modern initials, and a modern incision runs up the left groove of the V-rod. At the top, filling the width of the slab, there is a crescent-and-V-rod symbol lacking the right terminal of the rod. The crescent is of 'dome-and-wing' type, with four subsidiary arches along the lower edge. There is no surviving ornament in the angle of the V-rod, but two spirals are preserved at its left terminal. The angle of the V-rod touches the apex of the outermost of three concentric circles. The outer two, 0.27m and 0.16m in diameter, form a band 50mm wide which encloses the central 55mm circle. Touching the outer circle at the left there is a lightly pecked and slightly sunk 75mm circle and on the same axis to the right there are traces of another, forming the triple-disc symbol. Lower to the right there are two faint concentric circles, 100mm over all, which may have been part of a mirror symbol.


(1) F T Macleod 1912a, 210-11. Local tradition in 1961 suggested a slightly earlier date (A Ross 1961, 206-9).

(2) MacLeod (loc.cit.) says that the well was 'partly covered' by the slab. Ross (op.cit., 208) was told that it 'lay flat on the peaty bank above the well'. She gives the name in the plural form, with the tradition that the stewards of three adjacent properties met there (ibid., 207-8).

(3) RCAHMS 1928, No.507; NMRS database NG24NW 4.

F T Macleod 1912a, 210-11; RCAHMS 1928, No.528; R B K Stevenson 1955, C12, fig.15, 102-3; R B K Stevenson 1961a, 40-1; A Ross 1961, 206-9; A Mack 1997, 112.

I Fisher 2001, 104-5.

Desk Based Assessment

NG24NW 3 2408 4648.

A stone, which partly covered the well, Tobar na Maor, beside Dun Osdale until 1910, is now preserved at Dunvegan Castle; although weathered, it bears a crescent and V-rod and a pair of concentric circles.

Information from OS.

F T Macleod 1912; RCAHMS 1928; 1985; R B K Stevenson 1961; A Ross 1961.


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