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Brechin Cathedral

Hogback Stone (Early Medieval)

Site Name Brechin Cathedral

Classification Hogback Stone (Early Medieval)

Canmore ID 35068

Site Number NO56SE 22.02

NGR NO 5963 6010

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Brechin
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project

Brechin 2, Angus, hogback monument

Measurements: L 1.49m, W 0.41m>0.37m, H 0.22m>0.19m (from Lang 1974)

Stone type: Old Red Sandstone

Place of discovery: NO 5963 6010

Present location: in the west end of the south aisle of the nave of Brechin Cathedral.

Evidence for discovery: according to Chalmers there is an inscription on the base which suggests that it was re-used, upside down, as a seventeenth-century grave monument. The end-damage could be related to this re-use or to another episode of re-use, perhaps as a building stone. In 1885 it was fixed against the south wall of the chancel of the ruined church near the cathedral and was taken into the cathedral before the end of the century.

Present condition: broken at higher end and damaged at lower end, and the carving is worn.


An unusual example of a hogback gravestone, this slab has a gently rounded profile entirely covered with zoomorphic and figural ornament carved in relief. At the lower end there is an end-beast with huge eyes and a mane that flows back and over the sides in interlacing tendrils ending in volutes. This occupies more than a third of the length of the slab. The rear portion is carved with animals and two pairs of human figures. Looking at the slab head on, the right-hand side bears two animals in profile, one with its hind quarters over those of the other, and the tail of th right-hand beast coiled over the body of the other. Both have large heads and eyes. Behind them are two frontal human figures in long robes, brooches at their shoulders, the left-hand figure holding a staff and the right-hand figure holding a book. The left-hand side of the hogback is carved with a pair of interlaced animals with elongated bodies and gaping jaws, facing away from one another. A small animal with its tail between its hind legs cowers beneath them. Beyond the animals is a pair of frontal human figures in long robes, the right-hand figure holding a crosier in his left hand and raising his right arm, and the other figure holding a book in his left hand. This end of the monument has been trimmed away.

Date range: early eleventh century.

Primary references: Chalmers 1848, pl 13; ECMS pt 3, 250-2; Lang 1974, 223-4; RCAHM|S 2007, 8-9.

Compiled by A Ritchie 2016



Before 1856 a cross-slab of Early Christian date (now in the cathedral) was dug up in a garden 'formerly part of an ancient churchyard), near Brechin Cathedral. Also at the cathedral there is a decorated hogback of early eleventh-century date and the well-known round tower with its sculptured doorway (NO56SE12)

J Stuart 1856; 1867; J R Allen and J Anderson 1903; H Coutts 1970; J T Lang 1974; RCAHMS 1983


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