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Mortlach, The Battle Stone

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

Site Name Mortlach, The Battle Stone

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

Alternative Name(s) Dufftown; Mortlach 1

Canmore ID 16800

Site Number NJ33NW 12

NGR NJ 3237 3928

NGR Description NJ 3237 3928

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project

Mortlach, Battle Stone, Moray, Pictish cross-slab

Measurements: H 1.83m above ground, W 0.56m, D 0.18m

Stone type: green slate

Place of discovery: NJ 3237 3928

Present location: set in a path in the churchyard.

Evidence for discovery: first recorded in 1832 in a field beyond the graveyard and later moved into the latter.

Present condition: weathered.


This slab is carved on both broad faces. Face A bears an outline cross with rounded armpits, with incised running spiral ornament. Above the cross are two poorly delineated sea-monsters facing one another, while below is a clumsy attempt at a lion facing right. On face B are incised a bird facing left over a serpent over a bull’s head, above a horseman and hound.

Date: eighth or ninth century

References: Skene 1832, p 41; ECMS pt 3, 155-6; Fraser 2008, no 161.1.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2018.


Field Visit (26 January 1967)

The Battle Stone, as described and illustrated by Allen and Simpson, stands in a graveyard recently extended. The stone, containing the incised scrolled symbol and elephant symbol now stands inside the N wing of the church at NJ 3237 3928. Its original find-spot cannot be ascertained.

Visited by OS (N K B) 26 January 1967.

Reference (1994)

The Battle Stone is as described by Allen and Anderson; it stands on a path in the lower graveyard extension. A further incised stone with a 'beast' and a curvilinear symbol was found in 1925 (NJ33NW 139), and is built into the vestibule of the church.

RCAHMS 1994.

Reference (1997)

One class II symbol stone - Mortlach 1- Cross on the north east face with two fish monsters above and a beast below.On the south west face is a bird above a serpent and a bull's head.A mounted figure with a hound appears at the foot of the stone on the reverse.

A Mack 1997

Desk Based Assessment

NJ33NW 12.00 3241 3924 and 3237 3928.

(NJ 3241 3924). Standing Stone (NR). (Sculptured).

OS 6" map, (1938)

A symbol stone known as the 'Battle Stone' stands in the middle of the field below Mortlach churchyard (NJ33NW 10) On it are incised a Celtic cross, two fish, a bird, serpent, horseman, etc. A further stone, incised with an elephant symbol, was found in 1925 in the grave- yard, and has been built into the churchyard wall.

J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; W D Simpson 1926.

The 'Battle Stone' is of green slate, 1.8m x 0.56m. sculptured on both faces in relief and with incised lines. The front bears a pair of fish monsters, a cross, and a beast in low relief. Back- traces of a bird symbol at the top. Below this, a serpent and bulls head, a horseman and a hound are all incised.

J Stuart 1856; C A Gordon 1967; RCAHMS 1985.

Information from OS.


Mortlach 1 'The Battle Stone' NJ33NW 12

Mortlach 2 NJ33NW 139


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