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Newton Of Collessie, Standing Stone

Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish), Standing Stone (Prehistoric)

Site Name Newton Of Collessie, Standing Stone

Classification Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish), Standing Stone (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Halhill Farm

Canmore ID 30156

Site Number NO21SE 18

NGR NO 29271 13244

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Collessie
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project

Newton of Collessie, Fife, Pictish symbol stone

Measurements: H 2.74m, diameter at base 2.13m tapering upwards

Stone type:

Place of discovery: NO 2927 1324

Present location: in situ

Evidence for discovery: first recorded in 1925, the stone was apparently in its original position until displaced in 1994. Its stone hole was excavated and it was re-erected in 1995.

Present condition: weathered


This pillar stone is incised with a large human figure and two symbols. The figure is walking towards the left and is carrying a large rectangular shield and a spear. There is an arch symbol over traces of what has been identified as a Pictish beast.

Date: seventh century.

References: Fraser 2008, no 83.

Compiled by A Ritchie 2016


Field Visit (5 June 1925)

Standing Stone, near Newton.

In a field on lands of Melville, about 300 yards northeast of the farm-house of Newton of Collessie, and almost on the crest of rising ground, at an elevation of 200 feet above sea-level, is the Standing Stone of Newton. It is a tall pillar of sandstone of irregular form, somewhat rounded in appearance in the lower portion of its height, and has apparently been broken, as a block of similar material is lying loose at its base. It is set with its main axis north-west and southeast, and rises to a height of 9 feet. The girth at base is 7 feet and, at 5 feet up, 7 feet 2 inches. The stone has been sculptured in at least two places, but the details are now almost indecipherable. The sculpturings occur high up on the stone, one being an incised figure of a manor huntsman- the lower limbs only remaining distinct- and the other a narrow incised ‘arch’ with an indefinite design below it. There may have been other sculpturings, but the surface is worn and weathered.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 5 June 1925.

Field Visit (31 October 1956)

Standing Stone as described.

Visited by OS (D S) 31 October 1956.

Desk Based Assessment (1956)

NO21SE 18 292711 13244.

(NO 2927 1324) Standing Stone (NR).

OS 6"map, (1959)

A 9' high sandstone pillar of irregular form, but some- what rounded lower down. It is set with its main axis NW-SE and measures 7' in girth at the base. It has been sculptured in at least two places, high up on its face, but the details are now almost indecipherable. One appears to be the figure of a man or huntsman, while the other is a narrow, incised arch with an indefinite design below it.

RCAHMS 1933, visited 1925.

Information from OS

Source: RCAHMS 1933

Field Visit (12 May 1970)

No change.

Visited by OS (W D J) 12 May 1970.

Aerial Photography (1977)

Photographed by RCAHMS.

Visible on RCAHMS air photograph F 5752-3: flown 1977.

Field Visit (1989)

This stone has been identified through an art impression process by the contributor, to reveal a figure of a Pictish warrior measuring 113.5cm (3ft8ins) high, 27m (11ins) wide on the topmost portion of the 9ft tall stone. The figure is in a striding position facing left in profile, and carries a spear with pommel end in the right hand and an oblong square sheild in the left. To the lower right, 10cm (4in) from the figure, is the Pictish symbol called the arch or horseshoe. The inclusion of a Pictish symbol together with a charecteristic Pictish male figure makes this stone unique in the Pictish repertory of symbol stones with incisied figures.

M Lines 1989.

Field Visit (1993)

This standing stone was re-examined to reveal a second symbol beneath the arch/horseshoe symbol previously described next to the profile male figure. This is identified as the Pictish 'Beast' symbol. It appears as characteristic in form facing right (E) with conventional spirals and scrolls. This second symbol indicates a 'paired symbol' relationship between the symbols and the Pictish figure, and due to a similarity with certain E Wemyss Caves' carvings, an early date of 5th century AD is possible. The inclusion of two Pictish symbols together with a characteristic Pictish male figure makes this stone unique in the Pictish repertoire of symbol stones with incised figures. The paired symbols may further indicate the genealogy of the figure.

M Lines 1993.

Excavation (August 1995)

NO 2927 1324 The Trust was commissioned in August 1995 to carry out a small scale excavation at the site of the Newton Standing Stone. The stone was displaced at some time in the later part of 1994 and, following advice from the Stenhouse Conservation Trust, was to be re-erected on its original site by Historic Scotland.

An area 3m2 was opened by hand with the disturbed pit for the stone at the centre. At the surface of the pit were several large rounded cobbles, which represented uprooted packing around the base of the standing stone. The pit was sub-circular in plan with steep sides and a flat base cut into undisturbed coarse sand and gravel. The cut had a maximum diameter of 1.1m and depth of only 0.42m. A depression, representing a leverage slot, lay on the SW side of the pit. A single, homogeneous fill was contained within the cut.

It appears that the stone was erected by being levered into a pre-prepared pit and then soil and small pebbles chocked around the base to act as consolidation with larger cobbles inserted as packing. From the evidence encountered it is impossible to determine conclusively whether the stone was standing in its original position or whether it might have been moved to this site. No other archaeological deposits, features or artefacts were found.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland.

J R Mackenzie 1995.

Reference (1997)

Class I symbol stone. On the south-east face is a naked figure with a shield, with a horseshoe on the adjoining south-west face.

A Mack 1997.


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