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Pictish Symbol Stone (Early Medieval), Structure (Pictish)

Site Name Dandaleith

Classification Pictish Symbol Stone (Early Medieval), Structure (Pictish)

Canmore ID 341175

Site Number NJ24NE 208

NGR NJ 2890 4585

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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


Dandaleith, Craigellachie, Moray, Pictish symbol stone

Measurements: L 1.70m

Stone type: pink granite

Place of discovery: NJ 2890 4580

Present location: Elgin Museum.

Evidence for discovery: found in May 2013 during ploughing.

Present condition: good.


The slab is incised with symbols on two adjoining faces: one bears an eagle walking to the right above a crescent and V-rod, while the other bears a disc with rectangle above an indented rectangle and Z-rod. All the symbols have internal ornament.

Date: seventh century

References: DES 2014, 139-40.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2017


Artefact Recovery (May 2013)

NJ 28900 45800 The Dandaleith Stone, a Class I Pictish Symbol Stone, was found near Craigellachie in May 2013 during ploughing and reported to the area archaeologist by the landowner. The stone, a solid pink granite boulder, is 1.7m long and weighs around 670kg. It has incised decoration on two adjoining faces, and tool marks on the other faces. Face 1 is incised with a large eagle, with crescent and V-rod below. Face 2 is incised with a mirror case symbol, with a notched rectangle and Z-rod below. While previously recorded symbol stones in the Strathspey area have similar symbols (eg Arndilly and Inveravon), the presence on the Dandaleith Stone of incised symbols on two adjoining faces, aligned on the same orientation, is unusual and may be unique. The stone was declared as Treasure Trove, and in March 2014, it was allocated to Elgin Museum. It is currently undergoing a programme of conservation work before it goes on display in Elgin Museum. Investigative work is planned for the find site, to try to establish if the stone was found at, or near, its original location. Archive and report: Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service

Funder: The Moray Society and Aberdeenshire Council

Claire Herbert – Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service

(Source: DES)

Geophysical Survey (28 October 2014 - 30 November 2014)

NJ 28900 45800 A programme of work was undertaken by the University of Aberdeen and volunteers (drawn largely from the Moray Archaeology for All community project) around the findspot of the Dandaleith Stone, a Class 1 Pictish stone (see DES 2014, 139–140). The work aimed to establish if the stone was found in, or near, its original setting. We were assisted in this by the tractor driver who uncovered the stone, and who had recorded the findspot using onboard GPS.

A geophysical survey was undertaken on 28 and 29 October 2014 using resources from University of Aberdeen. A gradiometer survey covered 17800m2, whilst a ground resistance survey covered 800m2, both centred on the findspot. The results of both surveys were consistent with agricultural activities carried out over alluvial deposits, with no clear evidence of a setting for the stone near the findspot.

Trial trenching was then carried out, on 21 November 2014, over and around the findspot. Six trenches were opened, and in the first five nothing was found below the ploughsoil but alluvium. However, in the sixth changes in soil colours were noted below the ploughsoil that indicated the possible presence of a negative archaeological feature. On investigation, charcoal, burnt bone and a single piece of slag were identified. The trench was extended to 9 x 8.5m, revealing a sub-rectangular feature measuring 7 x 4m and some smaller peripheral features which appeared to be postholes. The trench was cleaned and excavated by hand over the following nine days.

The principal feature proved to be a scoop cut into the alluvial gravel with a floor stabilised by river cobbles and sand. This had been filled with successive layers of trampled turf, probably representing reuse of collapsed wall or roof material as the structure was repeatedly remodelled. A double line of stakeholes at one longitudinal end of the structure would seem to represent two lines of wattle and daub with the gap filled with rammed earth which would have acted as a gable, while a single central posthole cutting the lower layer of trampled turf may indicate a running repair to support a sagging roof. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from the trampled turf layers produced dates centred on the late 8th century AD, meaning that this is a very rare example (due to their ephemeral archaeological footprint) of a Pictish structure situated in a rural landscape. While the project failed to meet the original research objectives, it did result in an unexpected success.

Archive: Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service (intended)

Funder: University of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Council

Dave Anderson and Leanne Demay – Anderson Archaeology (Scotland)

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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