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St Vigeans, 'drosten Stone'

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

Site Name St Vigeans, 'drosten Stone'

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

Canmore ID 35560

Site Number NO64SW 3.01

NGR NO 6383 4294

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Arbroath And St Vigeans
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus


St Vigeans 1 (Drosten Stone) (St Vigianus), Angus, inscribed Pictish cross-slab fragments

Measurements: H 1.84m, W 0.55m, D 0.19m

Stone type: grey sandstone

Place of discovery: NO c 6384 4289

Present location: in St Vigeans Museum (HES).

Evidence for discovery: the lower fragment was found sometime before 1845 in re-use as a floor slab in the church, and it was removed and erected in the south-east part of the churchyard before 1854. By 1899 it had been taken into the west porch of the church. The upper fragment was found re-used in the east gable or staircase of the church during the restoration of 1871, and sometime before 1903 it was joined to the lower fragment. Together the fragments were placed in St Vigeans Museum in 1960.

Present condition: weathered, and a portion of the upper part of the slab is missing.


These two fragments are not conjoining but appear likely to belong to the same stone. Both broad faces and the two narrow long sides are carved in relief within plain flat-band borders. Face A bears a cross spanning the height and width of the rectangular slab, which is outlined by a heavy roll moulding. The shaft is filled with dense interlace, using median-incised cords and diagonal glides, and there are cruciform voids between the glides. The two surviving terminals show that the arms were filled with interlace and there were large open circular armpits, but the centre of the cross-head is missing. A winged anthropoid figure crouches on the left arm of the cross. The background on either side of the shaft is filled with animals and snakes, arranged vertically to fill the narrow available space.

Face B is carved with interlace above a small basal panel containing an inscription in half-uncial letters, which consists of three personal names: Drosten, Uoret and Forcus.

Face C brims with life and fable. At the top is a hunting scene with stag and hounds, above several damaged or missing motifs. Across the width of the slab is a large double disc and Z-rod symbol, with interlaced triangles filling the discs and perhaps forming crosses. Below again are a decorated crescent and a comb and mirror. Next come a bear and a doe with a suckling fawn, and then a goggle-eyed beast, an eagle feeding on a salmon and a quadruped with a large horned head. At the foot of the panel is a finely delineated scene with a crouching archer, crossbow at the ready, facing a massive boar.

Face D is carved with one long panel containing a simple vine-scroll with lanceolate leaves and upturned berry bunches. Towards the top, the penultimate scroll features an otter-like creature nibbling the berries, and the damaged scrolls beneath may also have been occupied.

Date range: eighth to ninth century.

Primary references: ECMS pt 3, 234-9; Fraser 2008, no 67.1; Geddes 2017, no VIG001.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2017


Reference (1964)

NO64SW 3.01 6383 4294.

No.1. 'The Drosten Stone'. Upright cross-slab. Particularly well-known because of the inscription at the bottom of one of the narrow sides.

The front face of the slab bears a cross which occupies most of it. The cross is decorated all over with interlace or knotwork. In the top left-hand corner is a little winged angel or 'soul' figure. On the left of the shaft, at the top, is an extended animal seen from above. At the bottom of this panel is a long-necked winged dragon whose tail is twisted through its rear legs. On the right of the shaft, at the top, is a probably winged beast with a long neck, below it a snarling creature with claws, then a beast with three sets of bristles or humps (a dromedary?), and at the bottom a pair of interlaced serpents. On the other side, at the top, is a hunt; two hounds in full pursuit of a stag: also a small animal and parts of others (behind the stag a bird?).

Below this scene are the three symbols, the double-disc and Z-rod, the crescent, and on the right of the crescent the mirror and comb. The lower part of this side has a group of animals. At the bottom a cloaked Pictish archer aims at a well-tusked boar.

The narrow sides bear interlace and foliage. The interlace above the inscription is characteristically Pictish (see the cross-shaft), but the trailing vine-leaf on the other narrow side is not Pictish but is characteristic of Anglian or Northumbrian sculpture of the later ninth century. The inscription and the art style of this stone therefore agree to date it approximately to the period 850-900 AD. It is probably nearer 850.

This stone was recovered in two broken parts, recently united. It is still incomplete, as can be seen. Removed from St Vigeans Church to museum 1960 (NO 6383 4294).

S Cruden 1964

Reference (1997)

Six class II symbol stones.

St Vigeans 1 (The Drosten Stone) : on cross face decoration including an angel with animals and birds and inscription in Hiberno-Saxon script.On the reverse a complex hunting scene with underneath a double-disc and Z-rod over a crescent and mirror-and-comb.

St Vigeans 2 : cross shaft with a mirror on the left and serpent and Z-rod over an eagle on the right.

St Vigeans 3 : fragment with double-disc and Z-rod.

St Vigeans 4 : on the reverse is a standing figure with vertical double-disc on the right.

St Vigeans 5 : fragment with double-disc and Z-rod on the cross face.

St Vigeans 6 : double-disc and Z-rod on one face.

A Mack 1997


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