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Skye, Tote, 'clach Ard'

Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish)

Site Name Skye, Tote, 'clach Ard'

Classification Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish)

Canmore ID 11276

Site Number NG44NW 1

NGR NG 4210 4908

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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


Clach Ard, Tote, Skye & Lochalsh, Pictish symbol stone

Measurements: H 1.41m above its base, W 0.53m, D 0.40m

Stone type: basalt

Place of discovery: NG 4210 4908

Present location: standing 9m north of the road at Tote.

Evidence for discovery: found re-used as a door jamb in a cottage at Tote in 1880 and set up in a stone base on a ridge above the township.

Present condition: broken and worn with edge damage.


This rectangular slab has been trimmed at the base for re-use as a door jamb. One broad face is incised with Pictish symbols set one above the other: a crescent and V-rod, a double disc and Z-rod set vertically and a mirror and comb.

Date range: seventh century.

Primary references: RCAHMS 1928, no 640; Fisher 2001, 105; Fraser 2008, no 131.

Compiled by A Ritchie 2016

Recording Your Heritage Online

Clach Ard, Tote, 7th century Pictish symbol stone sited here for over a century, having previously been built into the door jamb of a neighbouring house. The basalt pillar is carved with a crescent, V-rod and disc symbols. Skirinish, c.1840 Rebuild of a Macdonald tacksman's house, occupied since at least the early 18th century. Adjacent cottage and steading date from the mid-19th century, when Skirinish became one of Skye's large new farms.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press


Field Visit (11 April 1961)

Clach Ard: Pictish symbol stone as described by RCAHMS. Until about 1880 Clach Ard was incorporated into a door jamb, or such like feature, of a shoemaker's house in Tote, and was associated with a legend that it could never be kept in the house. About 1880 it was recognised as a symbol stone and erected at its present site. (Information from Mr Gillies, Tote, Skeabost)

Visited by OS (C F W) 11 April 1961.

External Reference (1980)

Until 1880, this stone was used in a door-jamb of a house in Tote, where it was recognised as a symbol stone and removed to its present site near a gravel pit. Measuring 1.3m x 0.48m, it bears the crescent and V-rod, double disc and 2-rod and the mirror and comb symbols. Much of the incised decoration is much deteriorated.

Information from R Jones 1980.

Publication Account (1985)

The stone is some 1.3m in height and about 0.5m broad with a series of Symbols on its southern face; there is a crescent and V-rod at the top, a double disc and Z-rod beneath and formerly there was a mirror and comb symbol near the bottom, but this is no longer visible. There is a local tradition that the stone was incorporated into the shoemakers house at Tote till about 1880, perhaps as a door jamb.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).

Reference (1997)

Class I symbol stone showing a crescent and V-rod over a double-disc and Z-rod with a mirro-and-comb at the foot of the stone.

A.Mack 1997.

Reference (2001)

This symbol-stone is said to have been built into the door-jamb of a house in the township of Tote until about 1880 (1). It was then set up on a slight ridge about 9m N of the minor road that runs through the township, bounded on the N by a large gravel-quarry. This location, at an elevation of 60m, commands an extensive view including the head of one of the inlets of Loch Snizort, 0.7km to the W, and the remains of the parish church on an island in the River Snizort below Skeabost Bridge, which was dedicated to St Columba and used in the late medieval period as the cathedral of the Isles (2).

The stone is a pentagonal pillar of basalt, 1.41m in visible height, 0.53m in overall width and 0.44m on the widest (SSW) face, and 0.4m thick. The main face is weatherworn and has been damaged by cracking and flaking, especially in the lower part which appears to have been used as a tethering-post (3). The surface is irregular, with an abrupt change of level running across the crescent, but the symbols are confidently laid out and some pecking is visible. At the top there is the crescent-and-V-rod symbol, with traces of two 'wings' or arches in the crescent (4), and a series of short vertical strokes rising from its lower edge. In the apex of the crescent there is a small circle with a central depression, and this motif was repeated in the angle of the V-rod, whose terminals are obliterated except for a spiral at the right.

Below this symbol there is a vertically-set double-disc-and-Z-rod. Each disc has a broad flat margin and bears a circle with central depression in the sector nearest the linking bar, which is embellished with two concave grooves forming an hour-glass motif. The circles are repeated in the angles of the Z-rod, whose foliated upper left terminal is preserved. The lower terminal, and part of the lower disc, have been obliterated by flaking, as has the upper part of the mirror and comb at the foot of the slab. The short mirror-handle with its circular knob, however, is visible, as are the lower teeth of the comb to its right.


(1) Information from Mr Gillies, Tote, to Ordnance Survey, 1961 (NMRS database NG44NW 1).

(2) D E R Watt 1969, 202; RCAHMS 1982a, p.148. The remains on the island include the outline of an elongated church, overlain with burial-enclosures and associated with architectural fragments of early 13th- and 15th-century type, and late medieval effigies (RCAHMS 1928, No.616). The so-called 'teampull' is a post-Reformation burial-aisle incorporating other late-medieval architectural fragments.

(3) The foot of the stone was obscured in 1991 by the cement support for an information plaque (figs.7B, 105B), but this has been removed.

(4) The lower edge of the right wing, as shown by Stevenson (1953, C14, fig.15 on pp.102-3), is an irregular crack running across the stone.

F T Macleod 1910, 384-5; RCAHMS 1928, No.640 and fig.263; sketch by J S Richardson, 1927 (copy in NMRS, IND/281/1); R B K Stevenson 1953, C14, fig.15 on pp.102-3; G Ritchie and M Harman 1985, 120; ibid. (2nd ed., 1996), 122; A Mack 1997, 114).

I Fisher 2001, 105.

Desk Based Assessment

NG44NW 1 4210 4908.

(NG 4210 4908) Clach Ard (NAT) Clach Ard (NR)

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904); OS 1"map, 7th Series.

Clach Ard occupies a precarious position near the edge of a gravel pit and faces South. An irregular five-sided prism, it measures 4ft 5ins in height and 1ft 7ins across its S aspect. On this face three symbols are incised, the crescent and broken rod with floriated ends occupying the top, the spectacle ornament and zig-zag rod with ends also floriated placed longitudinally on the stone below it,and the mirror and comb symbol near the base. The symbols, with the exception of the mirror and comb, are fairly distinct, but the ornamentation of the discs of the spectacle ornament and crescent is nearly obliterated. It seems to have consisted of small circles with a round dot in the centre (RCAHMS 1928). Shown on distribution map and dated to 6-7th century by Curle (1940), but see Radford (1942) and Stevenson (1955) who criticize this paper. Stevenson is inclined to date these stones slightly later, i.e. 7-8th century.

Information from OS.

RCAHMS 1928; C L Curle 1940; C R Radford 1942; R B K Stevenson 1955.


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