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Meigle, Meigle Museum

Cross Slab(S) (Early Medieval), Cup And Ring Marked Stone (Prehistoric), Hogback Stone (Early Medieval), Museum (20th Century), Pictish Symbol Stone(S) (Pictish), School (19th Century)

Site Name Meigle, Meigle Museum

Classification Cross Slab(S) (Early Medieval), Cup And Ring Marked Stone (Prehistoric), Hogback Stone (Early Medieval), Museum (20th Century), Pictish Symbol Stone(S) (Pictish), School (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Meigle Schoolhouse; Meigle Stones

Canmore ID 30837

Site Number NO24SE 25

NGR NO 28722 44558

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Meigle
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project (2018)

Meigle 8, Perthshire, Pictish cross-slab fragment

Measurements: H 0.20m, W 0.20m, D 0.10m

Stone type: sandstone

Place of discovery: NO 2872 4455

Present location: Meigle Museum.

Evidence for discovery: found in 1889 ‘lying outside the old schoolhouse’, probably within the old churchyard.

Present condition: broken, damaged and worn.


This fragment belongs to the upper part of a cross-slab, carved in relief on both broad faces within a roll moulding. Face A bears a cross-head with a circle at the centre, rectangular terminals and circular armpits, the upper and left arms contain spiral work, but the rest of the head is very worn. Face C is carved with a device like a pair of dividers, which is unique to Meigle but may nonetheless be a symbol. Beneath is a pair of animals of which only the heads and forelegs survive. They have broad snouts and lappets on their heads and necks, and each has a forepaw in the other’s jaws.

Date: ninth century.

References: ECMS pt 3, 303; RCAHMS 1994, 98, D.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2018.

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project (2018)

Meigle 10, Perthshire, architectural panel

Measurements: H 0.46m, W 0.91m

Stone type: sandstone

Place of discovery: NO 2872 4459

Present location: Meigle Museum.

Evidence for discovery: first recorded by Gordon in or before 1726 ‘erected’ in the churchyard. Sometime in the next hundred years it was taken to Belmont and built into the stable court, where Skene sketched it around 1830. By the 1848 it was recorded by Chamers in the church. It was lost when the church was destroyed by fire in 1869.

Present condition:


This panel may have been part of a chancel screen in the early church. There was a wide fla-tband border along the base of the slab, and the left-hand edge may have been an original dressed edge. The top and right-hand edges were clearly trimmed away for re-use. The carving appears to have been in low relief. To the left were two horses side by side and harnessed to a two-wheeled vehicle, driven by a figure in a long robe. Within the canopied carriage was a large seated figure in front of a smaller seated attendant. A small animal facing left was below the rear legs of the horses, while beneath the carriage was a crouched archer facing right with a cross-bow ready to fire. In front of him there was a quadruped walking to the right towards a larger bear-like creature with its jaws clamped round the head of the human figure beneath its feet. Stuart shows the human figure thrusting a knife into the animal’s chest. Above this large animal were the hind-quarters of another smaller animal, probably a hound.

Date: eighth or ninth century.

References: Gordon 1726, 162; Skene 1832, 18; Chalmers 1848, pl 18; Ritchie 1997; Reid & Davidson 2013.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2018.

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project (26 June 2019)

Displayed in the old schoolhouse in Meigle are twenty-seven well-preserved carved stones of Pictish workmanship. They include upright cross-slabs and recumbent gravestones, many of them complete, as well as part of an architectural frieze, all carved from local sandstone. Their ornament includes Pictish symbols, the Christian cross, horse-riders, animals both real and imagined, and the great cross-slab (no 2) depicts the Biblical story of Daniel in the lions’ den. In date the stones span the period from the late eighth century to the late tenth century.

Primary references: ECMS pt 3, 296-305, 329-40; Ritchie 1995.

A Ritchie 2019

Archaeology Notes

NO24SE 25 2872 4455.

For Pictish symbol stones, cross-slabs, sculptured stones and objects of similar type held in Meigle Museum, see sub-numbers NO24SE 25.01-25.33.

NO24SE 25.01 Pictish Cross-slab; Cup-and-ring Markings

NO24SE 25.02 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.03 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.04 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.05 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.06 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.07 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.08 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.09 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.10 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.11 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.12 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.13 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.14 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.15 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.16 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.17 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.18 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.19 Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.20 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.21 Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.22 Pictish Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.23 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.24 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.25 Hogback Stone

NO24SE 25.26 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.27 Pictish Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.28 Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.29 Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.30 Sculptured Stone

NO24SE 25.31 Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.32 Cross-slab

NO24SE 25.33 Sculptured Stone

'Old schoolroom, Tudor, c.1845 containing collection of early sculptured monuments'.

SDD List, 1962.

(Area: NO 2872 4459). A collection of about 26 symbol-bearing slabs and sculptured stones known as the "Meigle Stones" is preserved in the old school-house (NO 2872 4455), adjoining the churchyard, which has been converted into a museum.

They were found during the latter half of the 19th.c in the church, churchyard and the immediate vicinity outside.

J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; S Cruden 1964

Museum visited. No additional finds or information.

NO24SE 25.10, NO24SE 13, NO24SE 14, NO24SE 16 -19 & 24 are not in the Museum.

Nine class II symbol stones.

Meigle 1:A cross is on the face.On the reverse arranged vertically is a salmon,a deer's head and an elephant,a serpent and Z-rod and a mirror and comb.Below the symbols is a hunting scene with five mounted figures,one female,and a hound.

Meigle 3 Double-disc on the cross face.On the reverse is a mounted figure.

Meigle 4:Cross face has an unmounted figure with a horse.On the reverse is a mounted figure over an elephant above a crescent and V-rod

Meigle 5:Cross on the face with a mounted figure on the reverse.On one side of the stone are a mirror-case above an elephant.

Meigle 6:Cross shaft on the face with on the reverse a mounted figure over a double-disc above a crescent.

Meigle 7:Double-disc and Z-rod and a comb on the reverse.

A.Mack 1997 pp.51-53


Publication Account (1987)

More than thirty carved stones and fragments are known to have been found in Meigle, and there can be little doubt that an early ecclesiastical centre existed here, attracting important secular burials. Historical sources record the work of Thana, perhaps a monastic annalist, at Meigle in the mid 9th century, implying an appropriate setting for the sculpture. Some fragments have been lost, but the remaining collection includes large and small cross-slabs, horizontal or recumbent graveslabs and a hogback tombstone, as well as an architectural fragment that may have decorated a 9th or 10th century church (no. 22 in the collection). None of the stones need be dated earlier than about AD 800 and most are later, although several bear Pictish symbols including a finely executed 'Pictish beast' or 'swimming elephant' on the side of no. 5. The cross-slabs are mostly small in size, with the exception of nos 1 and 2. No. 1 is the earlier of the two and, although quite crudely composed, the scene on the reverse includes not only Pictish symbols (fish, 'elephant', serpent and Z-rod, mirror and comb) but also more exotic elements that must have been copied from an imported carving or manuscript: on the right is a kneeling camel, and on the left a winged figure identified as a Persian god. Cross-slab no. 2 is an imposing 2.4 m in height, carved in high relief but unfortunately much worn by weathering. A unique feature is the series of projections on the side and top, as if the slab were intended to be slotted into a wall or screen. The cross is massively proportioned, and the back of the slab is dominated by the central figure of David, flanked on either side by two lions and possibly a lion cub. Above the lions on the left is a row of three horsemen, depicted by the overlapping outlines of their horses.

The small cross-slab no. 3 is of particular interest because of the details of the horseman on the reverse; his broad scabbard has a rounded chape or protective tip, silver examples of which were found in the treasure from St Ninian's Isle in Shetland. Instead of a stirrup (which were unknown at this period in Scotland), his foot appears to be braced in a slipper-like pocket at the point of the saddlecloth.

There are two fine tombstones designed to lie horizontally over their graves. The earlier of the two, the wedge-shaped no. 26, is a vigorously carved Pictish monument of the 9th century. The socket in the top at the higher end was probably intended to hold an upright cross at the head of the grave, and the end panel is carved with a beast pursuing a bearded man. Both sides and top are decorated with animal, abstract and human motifs, including a beautifully devised swastika of human bodies. Perhaps because of this taste for wedge-shaped monuments, the hogback tombstone no. 25, carved in the late 10th century, was also made in this way instead of the normal house-shape, although it does bear the usual decoration in the form of roof-tiles. At the higher end of the ridge is a fine animal-head with long snout and flowing ears, very similar to the animal-heads decorating the base of the cross on no. 5. The hogback is clearly the work of local sculptor, adapting an exotic fashion in tombstones to local taste.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).

Note (1990)

The sculptured stones displayed in Meigle Museum, the former school-house of the village, form one of the most important collections of Pictish sculpture in Eastern Scotland; all were found in or near the parish church of Meigle (NO24SE 33.00). Before being placed in the museum at the end of the nineteenth century, several stood in the burial-ground, although it is not certain that they were, even then, in their original positions. Several others stood in a group on a mound a little to the N of the church, a location that caused some antiquarian speculation (for which, see NO24SE 33.00). Some were built into the walls of the church and the burial-ground, several being broken up to form manageable building-blocks in the process. The church was, however, destroyed by fire in 1869; some sculptured stones were discovered in the course of salvage and rebuilding operations, but others appear to have been lost in the conflagration. In 1858 a malt-kiln at Templehall (NO 2874 4467), a property some 70m N of the church, was demolished, and carved stones were found to have been employed in the construction of the kiln. The assemblage caught the attention of antiquaries such as Pennant, and the stones were subsequently studied in detail by Chalmers and Stuart; in several cases, their illustrations form the only record of stones that have subsequently been lost or destroyed. The major catalogue of Early Christian monuments in Scotland, that published by Allen and Anderson in 1903, lists the stones in two groups, Class II and Class III; the catalogue numbers allotted by Allen and Anderson are followed in this account. The monuments are all of sandstone, the majority of Old Red Sandstone, but detailed petrological definition is not possible without thin-sectioning. Most of the carving is in low relief, often within a raised border or frame, and comments on technique are reserved for the use of incision or unusually high relief.

Information from RCAHMS (JNGR) 1990.

T Pennant 1776; P Chalmers 1948; J Stuart 1856; J Stuart 1867; J R Allen and J Anderson 1903.

Watching Brief (30 September 1997)

A watching brief was carried out on 30th September 1997 by Kirkdale Archaeology while two test pits were excavated in the vicinity of Meigle Museum. The exercise was intended to establish the nature and extent of archaeological deposits in the area at the S of the graveyard, where it meets the N wall of the museum, in advance of the erection of an extension to the building.

No archaeological features likely to be disturbed by the extension works were revealed, as the site was seen to be characterised by substantial depths of levelling and otherwise later materials.

A full graphic and photographic record was made, and no finds were removed from the site.

Kirkdale Archaeology, 1997

Watching Brief (29 February 2012 - 1 March 2012)

NO 2871 4455 A watching brief was carried out 29 February – 1 March 2012 during 0.15m deep excavations associated with the extension of an existing path into the yard in front of the museum, to connect it to a ramp to allow disabled access to the building. A single sherd of medieval/post-medieval pottery, with a greenish-yellow glaze, was recovered. The presence of pottery in the backfill of the drain/manhole trench suggests that where sufficient depth can be achieved, intact archaeological horizons may be sealed by the later imported material that was used to level the area.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Paul Fox, Kirkdale Archaeology


OASIS ID: kirkdale1-310869


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