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Kettins Churchyard

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

Site Name Kettins Churchyard

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

Alternative Name(s) Kettins Burn; Kettins Parish Kirkyard, Sculptured Stone; Kettins Parish Church; Kettins Kirkyard

Canmore ID 30552

Site Number NO23NW 1

NGR NO 23782 39063

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Kettins
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Angus

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project (22 June 2016)

Kettins, Angus, cross-slab

Measurements: H 2.8m, W 1.2m, D 0.25m

Stone type: sandstone

Place of discovery: NO 2378 3906

Present location: set in a stone socket in Kettins churchyard.

Evidence for discovery: found in use as a footbridge over the burn around 1865 and erected in the churchyard close to the north wall. An infestation of ivy was removed in 2015.

Present condition: much of the carved surface of the slab has suffered severe water erosion. Most of the details of the cross and the ornament to its left have been obliterated.


This tall and slightly tapering slab has been carefully dressed at the top with a concave curve at either side creating the impression of a pediment. It is carved in relief on one broad face with a ringed cross outlined by a roll moulding which ends with a basal hook. The shaft is divided into at least three and possibly four panels of interlace ornament by narrower roll mouldings, in the lowest of which voids in the interlace form a cross. To the right of the shaft traces survive of four panels separated by roll mouldings, of which the uppermost contains a quadruped facing right, and below there is another quadruped facing left, possibly with a bird in its jaws. The third panel contains a frontal human figure flanked by two in profile who appear to have animal heads or masks. All three figures are dressed in long robes. The basal panel depicts two quadrupeds, one body over the other, facing away from one another but with confronting heads turned back with the ends of their own tails in their jaws. Allen saw traces of the tail of a fish-monster in the space above the left-hand side-arm.

Date range: eighth or ninth century.

Primary references: Stuart 1867, pl 8; ECMS pt 3, 224-5.

Compiled by A Ritchie 2016

Archaeology Notes

NO23NW 1 23782 39063.

(NO 2378 3906) Monumental Stone (NR) (Sculptured)

OS 6" map (1903)

A symbol-bearing cross slab (Allen's Class II) was found c. 1865, acting as the cover of bridge over the Kettins Burn. It was removed and erected in Kettins churchyard close to the N wall. It is placed in a stone socket and measures c. 10' x 3'6" x 10". Now much worn, the slab still retains some sculptures of humans and animals.

Upright cross-slabs in Kettins churchyard - scheduled.

A J Warden 1880; 1884; J R Allen and J Anderson 1903


Field Visit (2 May 1958)

The sculptures on this symbol stone, which is as described and illustrated, may still be faintly traced. No other cross-slabs were noted in the churchyard.

Visited by OS (JLD) 2 May 1958

Field Visit (18 December 1992)

This massive sandstone slab (measuring 2.8m in height, 1.2m in width and 0.25m in thickness) was formerly used as a footbridge over the Kettins Burn; it now stands very close to the NW wall of the burial-ground of Kettins parish church (NO23NW 6), set in a modern base and further supported by metal clamps. Worn decoration survives on one face: the cross has been almost completely defaced, but three areas of ornament on the shaft can still be detected, comprising a band of interlace and square panels of key-pattern and interlace. What may be the tail of a 'Pictish beast' is visible to the left side of the top of the cross, and there are four panels of worn ornament on the right side. These comprise: a beast with curled tail; a winged beast; a figure between two animal-headed monsters; a pair of facing beasts biting each other's tails.

Visited by RCAHMS (IMS, JNGR) 18 December 1992.


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