While visiting Scotland earlier this month I received a crash course in Pictish stone carving. The Picts lived north of what is now Edinburgh from the 1st to 3rd century AD. Little is known about them other than what can be deciphered from the system of symbols found carved on stones and engraved on metalwork. Nearly 200 stones survive, including the Hilton of Cadboll Stone that now resides in the National Museum of Scotland. After viewing the original Cadboll stone I met sculptor Barry Grove who was commissioned to carve a new stone, sited at the Cadboll Stone’s place of origin outside the royal burgh of Tain, just north of Inverness.
Barry explained that his stone is part replica and part re-conceptualization because one side of the original had the carvings hacked off centuries ago. Many fragments were rescued by archaeologist in 2001. From those thousands of fragments Barry was able to make some guesses about what the stone’s north face might have once looked like. After five years of research and carving the reimagined Hilton of Cadboll Stone now stands sentinel over the Moray Firth in the land that was once the home of the Picts.