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Dunrobin Castle Museum

Cup Marked Stone (Prehistoric)

Site Name Dunrobin Castle Museum

Classification Cup Marked Stone (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Dunrobin Castle Policies

Canmore ID 6548

Site Number NC80SE 40

NGR NC 8505 0082

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Golspie
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NC80SE 40 8505 0082.

No provenance, NGR for Dunrobin Castle, 0.31m x 0.24m x 0.05m thick


Publication Account (1995)

The museum is in a garden pavilion, the front part of which was built in 1732 as a summerhouse, and the back part added in 1878 when it became a museum. As well as Pictish stones, it houses local archaeo logical finds, objects from brochs, and hunting trophies from all over the world, all within a Victorian setting.

The collection of local Pictish stones is outstanding and includes almost all those found in Sutherland, which were concentra ted in the narrow, fertile trip of land along the east coast. Most numerous are the symbol stones, of which there are nine more or less complete examples and several more incomplete. Many have a mirror, or mirror and comb, probably indicating a woman, added ro two other symbols and the different types represented can be compared. Notable for their fine drawing and execution are the symbol srone from Dunrobin with a male salmon, 'tuning-fork' (its real identification is unknown) and a mirror and comb; one from the Dairy Park south of the castle with a double crescent, snake and Z-rod and mirror and comb; and another found in Golspie with a crescent and V-rod, 'Pictish beast' and mirror and comb. These three srones were all found associated with graves, but two may have been reused.

A large cross-slab with Pictish symbols was found in the graveyard of St Andrew's Church, Golspie.One side has a cross in relief, both cross and background decorated with a great variety of interlace patterns, and other patterns. This was much defaced when the slab was used as a gravestone in the 17th or 18th century and an inscription cut round the edge. The other side of this slab is carved with a series of what may be eight symbols, including a figure of a man in a tunic holding a knife or short sword in one hand and an axe in the other. It is not certain if the paired snakes, or indeed the man himself, are symbols in the same sense as the others, which are all familiar from symbol stones. The symbols at the top, known as a rectangle and a Pictish beast, are shown more prominently than the others, apparently deliberately. Both edges have a pleasing design of spirals in high relief.

On the rounded angle between this face of the stone, and its right and top edges is incised an ogam inscription. The ogam alphabet was introduced to the Picts from Ireland, but Pictish inscriptions are mostly unintelligible: here the letters include the word 'meqq', which seems to be equivalent to the Gaelic 'mac' meaning 'son of', so the inscription may correspond to the usual ogam formula in Ireland '(the monument of) A son of B'.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).


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