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Elgin Cathedral, Pictish Cross-slab

Cross Slab (Pictish), Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish)

Site Name Elgin Cathedral, Pictish Cross-slab

Classification Cross Slab (Pictish), Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish)

Canmore ID 16627

Site Number NJ26SW 2

NGR NJ 2219 6305

NGR Description Removed from NJ c. 2159 6285

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Moray
  • Parish Elgin
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Moray
  • Former County Morayshire

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project

Elgin, Moray, Pictish cross-slab

Measurements: H 2.08m, W 0.91m tapering downwards to 0.80m, D 0.18m

Stone type: granite

Place of discovery: NJ c 2158 6284

Present location: within the ruins of Elgin Cathedral.

Evidence for discovery: found lying flat during roadworks in the High Street in 1823, near the site of the medieval church of St Giles. First illustrated by Skene in 1832.

Present condition: the top of the slab is damaged and the base is missing, and overall there is much weathering.


Despite the coarse-grained granite, the carving on this splendid slab was remarkably detailed. It is carved in relief on both broad faces within a roll-moulded border, and the top may have been slightly rounded. Face A bears a cross on a broad rectangular plinth, which effectively divides the face into two panels. The cross is outlined by roll mouldings, including its central disc, and the small circular armpits are sunken. The cross is filled with interlinking panels of zoomorphic interlace, but the basal plinth appears to have been plain. In the background are four evangelists with their symbols. Below the cross is a single panel filled with four intertwined and biting quadrupeds.

At the top of the single panel on face C is a square containing back-to-back pairs of double spirals, flanked by serpentine motifs, above two ornate Pictish symbols: double disc and Z-road above crescent and V-rod. Below them is a hunting scene, facing left, with at least four horsemen, one of them armed, with the pre-eminent rider at the top with a bird of prey behind him on his out-stretched left arm. A large bird, perhaps the prey, stands in front of the rider’s horse. There is also a stag being harried by a hound, and at least two other hounds.

Date range: ninth century.

References: Skene 1832, 41; ECMS pt 3, 134-6; Henderson & Henderson 2004, 128-9, 149-50; Fraser 2008, no 156.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2018

Archaeology Notes

NJ26SW 2 2219 6305 removed from c. 2159 6285

The cross-slab which was unearthed near St. Giles Kirk (NJ 21596 6285) is located at the west end of the quire and on its north side.

J S Richardson and H B Mackintosh 1950.

Preserved in the nave of Elgin Cathedral is a very fine Celtic cross-slab with Pictish symbols on one front, and a cross with interlaced pattern on the other.

V G Childe and W D Simpson 1961.


Field Visit (13 December 1962)

NJ 2219 6305. The cross slab is as described and illustrated by the above authorities.

Visited by OS (R D L) 13 December 1962.

Reference (1997)

Class II symbol stone. The cross on the south face.On the north face is a double-disc and Z-rod above a crescent and V-rod.Below the symbols is a hunting scene with four mounted figures,a hawk, and a stag and hounds

A Mack 1997


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