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St Vigeans

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

Site Name St Vigeans

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

Canmore ID 35586

Site Number NO64SW 3.06

NGR NO 6383 4294

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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


St Vigeans 6 (St Vigianus), Angus, Pictish free-standing cross fragment

Measurements: H 0.11m, W 0.26m, D 0.6m

Stone type: sandstone

Place of discovery: NO c 6384 4289

Present location: in St Vigeans Museum (HES).

Evidence for discovery: found during grave-digging in 1888 and taken into the church. It was taken into St Vigeans Museum in 1960.

Present condition: three original but damaged edges and one broken (lower) edge. The carving is a little worn.


Although fragmentary, the entire width of the stone is present, and Geddes and Borland felt that 260mm is too small for a cross-slab and that it must be the terminal of an arm of a cross. The likely orientation of the Pictish symbol suggests that the fragment comes from the upper arm of the cross. There is a plain flat-band border to the two broad faces, which are carved in relief, and the end of the arm is slightly curved. Face A contains a panel of interlace consisting of knots linked by diagonal cords, which face C bears a heavily defined double-disc and Z-rod symbol. The terminals of the Z-rod do not survive, but the diagonal element is remarkable in being entirely behind the bar of the double disc and in being sunk at a lower level. The two discs are deeply hollowed in order to create four prominent bosses in each, carved with triple spirals and linked by trumpet motifs. Face D is incised with short parallel lines resembling an ogham inscription.

Date range: eighth or ninth century.

Primary references: ECMS pt 3, 241-2; Fraser 2008, no 67.6; Geddes 2017, no VIG006.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2017


Reference (1964)

NO64SW 3.06 6383 4294.

No.6. Fragment of upright cross-slab sculptured on two faces. On one side a panel of interlace, on the other a double-disc and part of the Z-rod. Removed from St Vigeans Church to museum, 1960 (NO 6383 4294).

S Cruden 1964

Publication Account (1987)

The church at St Vigeans presents a striking sight, perched on a small steep knoll above the Brothock Bum. Although most of the present building belongs to a 19th century restoration, the site has a long ecclesiastical history and bears the name of a 7th century Irish saint, Vigianus. The collection of early stone-carving now housed in a converted cottage at the foot of the knoll was discovered during the re-building of the church, most of the stones having been incorporated into its walls. Most were originally freestanding upright monuments, a few were recumbent or horizontal tombstones, and one or two may have been architectural pieces which once decorated an early church on the site. Overall, the collection is similar in range to that at Meigle (no. 76), and the absence of early symbol stones is a notable feature of both. Many of the St Vigeans stones have suffered badly from misuse as building material, and some survive only as fragments; only the most interesting of the 32 pieces will be treated here in detail.

Stone no. 1 is known as the Drosten Stone, after the first word of the unusual inscription set within a panel at the base of one of the narrow sides of the slab. This is one of only eight inscriptions written in roman script that have been found in Pictland. It reads





The precise meaning is obscure, but it is generally agreed amongst scholars that Drosten, Uoret and Forcus are personal names and that the inscription is most probably commemorative. The stone was carved in the early 9th century, a handsome tall cross-slab with prominent Pictish symbols created in relief on the back, above various animals, a bird and a fish, and hooded archer; this is one of the rare representations of a crossbow.

Although sadly mutilated (the carving on the back obliterated and the slab re-shaped), no. 7 retains enough of its sculptured face to give an impression of its former grandeur, with robed and seated clerics and fine interlacing on the cross. No. 11 is another damaged but still impressive cross-slab, with two robed clerics sitting on a bench and a quaint figure in baggy pleated trousers on the reverse. No. 8 is probably part of an architectural frieze, perhaps unfmished as one panel is empty. No. 14 is an elaborate recumbent tombstone, heavily decorated, with a slot at one end to take an upright cross.

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

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

Publication Account (2004)

The focus of the visit to St Vigeans is the collection of about thirty early medieval carved stones now in the care of Historic Scotland. These are housed in one of the stone cottages to the north of the church, but they all come from the parish church and its churchyard on the opposite side of the road. Standing on the summi of a conical mound, the existing church dates back to the 12th century, variously extended and rebuilt in the 13th and 15th centuries, and extensively renovated and rebuilt in 1871. The rennovations of 1871 were by the architect Robert Rowand Anderson, and led to the discovery of many of the stones embedded in the fabric of the medieval church. Unlike the Meigle collection, which was recorded in detail in the course of the survey of South-east Perth (1994), that from St Vigeans has suffered grievously through this reuse, and few of the slabs are complete. Nevertheless, several slabs have been pieced together, and by careful recording the designs of some fo the least promising fragments can be reconstructed. The slabs represented amongst the fragments are wholly Christian in character, ranging from cross-slabs and recumbent monuments bearing Pictish symbols, to simple slabs with no more than an undercorated cross in relief on one side. Earlier drawings of the stones are as varied in their character as the stones themselves, the illustrations in Allen and Anderson's Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (1903) appearing at numerous different scales. The present survey is to standardised scales, and for the first time it is possible to make direct comparisons between the stones both here and elsewhere. Examples of the earlier illustrations are reproduced here, together with some fo the new pencil survey drawings at 1:10. The well-known cross-slab bearing the miniscule inscription DROSTEN: IRE UORET [E]TT FORCUS (suggested by Clancy to read Drosten in the time of Uoret and Forcus) was previously only shown in fragments.

Information from ‘RCAHMS Excursion Guide 2004: Commissioners' Field Excursion, Perth and Angus, 31 August – 2 September 2004’.


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