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Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish)

Site Name Inveravon

Classification Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish)

Alternative Name(s) Inveravon No. 1; Inveraven, Pictish Symbol Stones

Canmore ID 16011

Site Number NJ13NE 7.01

NGR NJ 1828 3767

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Moray
  • Parish Inveravon
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Moray
  • Former County Banffshire

Accessing Scotland's Past Project

A Pictish Symbol Stone is attached to the south wall of Inveravon Parish Church. Measuring 1.5m x 0.9m, the stone bears three symbols, an eagle, a mirror case, and a mirror and comb. The stone is blue slate, and was not dressed prior to carving, making it a Class I type. Few Pictish stones can be dated; this type probably dates from between the sixth and eighth centuries AD.

The eagle is the largest carving on this stone, dominating the mirror and comb to its right. Above these, there is a further carving; a mirror case, elaborately decorated. Depictions of a mirror and comb are usually accompanied another pair of larger symbols, as is the case here.

Debate is ongoing as to exactly what Pictish Symbol Stones represent. There does appear to be some degree of regional variation amongst animal forms, such as the eagle, which could represent different tribes or families.

Text prepared by RCAHMS as part of the Accessing Scotland's Past project


Desk Based Assessment (1967)

NJ13NE 7.01 1883 3767

No. 1 is of blue slate, tapering towards the top, and measuring 1.5m x 0.9m x 0.15m. Incised on one face only, it bears an ornamented mirror case, the eagle and the mirror and comb symbols. It stands against the S wall of the church.

J Stuart 1856; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1882; J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; RCAHMS 1985.

Information from OS.

Publication Account (2007)

Inveravon (sometimes Inveraven but always pronounced Invera’n) boasts four symbol stones, three of which were found in the foundations of the former church. Inveravon 1 is a broken but complete slab bearing as so-called ‘mirror case’, an eagle, and a mirror and comb. The mirror is not of conventional form yet, despite a difference in scale, it and the ‘mirrorccase’ are remarkably similar in shape, arguably reinforcing a connection. With the incised groove being in places 20 mm wide, one could definitely describe these symbols as boldly carved. However, one would also have to say that they are rather clumsy and unrefined (for an eagle imbued with truly aquiline grandeur, see Tillytarmont 4). Perhaps Inveravon 1 and the Inverallan stone are examples of the ‘declining art’ theory. In contrast, although Inveravon 3 survives only as a small cutdown block bearing the head of a Pictish ‘beast ‘, the superior quality of its carving is obvious, the incised channel being skilfully cut, its curves both sinuous and elegant. This was clearly an exceptionally fine symbol stone. The Minister and Kirk Session of Inveravon are currently in the process of raising funds to have these stones removed from their current position against the south wall of the church, have them professionally conserved, and redisplayed within the church and an approach has been made to RCAHMS to assist with interpretive material for their re-display.

Information from ‘Commissioners’ Field Meeting 2007'.

Conservation (December 2011)

Conservation and Relocation

The four Inveravon Class I Incised Pictish Symbol stones, dating from perhaps the 6th-7th Century AD, were set against the south wall of Inveravon Church. The Church is a Category B Listed Building dating from 1806 but sitting on and near the remains of earlier Churches: the earliest existing record of St Peters Church Inveravon dating back to 1108. Found below and adjacent to the present Church, they include representations of the ‘Pictish Beast’, the most iconic and enigmatic of all the Pictish Symbols. The stones are Statutory Monuments. There were problems with the stones being exposed to the freeze thaw cycle in this exposed Highland location. The mounting of the stones was also problematic causing damp ingress to the Church itself through the South Wall.

After consultations with Historic Scotland, Tomintoul Glenlivit & Inveravon Church developed proposals to conserve the Pictish Stones and relocate them in the 1876 North Porch (an early work by the Architect Alexander Marshall Mackenzie).


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