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Cross Slab (Early Medieval)

Site Name Tarbat

Classification Cross Slab (Early Medieval)

Canmore ID 15639

Site Number NH98SW 16

NGR NH 916 840

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Tarbat
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project

Portmahomack, Tarbat 10 (TR 10), Ross and Cromarty, inscribed cross-slab fragment

Measurements: H 0.47m, 0.31m, D 0.17m

Stone type: yellow sandstone

Place of discovery: NH 9149 8402

Present location: National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh (X.IB.286)

Evidence for discovery:

Present condition: damaged and very worn.


This fragment comes from a very substantial monument. It is carved in relief on faces A and B, that on face A comprising a corner of a diagonally placed panel, outlined by roll moulding, which contains spiral work. On the relatively wide face B is a carefully carved Latin inscription in raised lettering, the form of which is related to the display scripts of Insular manuscripts (Higgitt 1982). The inscription is funerary and commemorates an individual whose name is partly illegible. Eight intact and a ninth partial line survive, reading ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, the Cross of Christ in memory of Reo[…]lius’.

It has been suggested that this fragment and Tarbat 20 were part of the same large cross-slab, reconstructed in Carver et al 2017 illus 5.3.53, where the inscription is seen as half-way up the side of the slab.

Date range: later eighth century.

Primary references: ECMS pt 3, 94-5; Higgitt 1982; Carver et al 2016, 124, 127, 157, D43.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2018

Archaeology Notes

NH98SW 16 916 840.

(Area: NH 916 840) This stone was first noticed by the Rev J M Joass built into the wall of the manse garden at Tarbat. It is the rectangular portion of an upright cross-slab (?) 1'7" high by 1' wide. It bears an inscription in Hiberno-Saxon capitals of the 8th or 9th century. The letters being in relief instead of incised is a unique feature.

E W R Nicholson has suggested REOTETII as the probable reading of the partially illegible name of the person commemorated and identifies him with the REOTHAIDE or REODAIDE whose death is recorded in 762 in the Annals of Ulster, and in 763 in the Annals of Tigernach. In both, he is called "Ab. Ferna" which, however, is understood to be Ferns in Ireland, and the difficulty of connecting him with Tarbat remains. The stone is listed as Class III, Tarbat no 10.

J R Allen and J Anderson 1903.

The stone is now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS, Accession no: IB 286)

Information from NMAS accessions index.


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