The Picts were perhaps the true ancestors of the Scottish nation – our indigenous people. They were first mentioned during the Roman campaign of Emperor Severus in 210 AD and while it is known that they lived in Scotland in the first millennium AD, and their territory was taken over by the Scots in the 9th century, little else is definite.
What has mainly survived is the great heritage of their carved symbol stones, which remain for us to study and cherish. Angus is particularly rich in Pictish heritage and Pictish enthusiasts are spoiled for choice.
The earliest sculpture includes incised animals and shapes and can be found on rock faces and in caves.
The Picts won a great victory at the Battle of Dunnichen. Not only did the battle end Northumbrian domination of the Picts, but by curbing the Northumbrian expansion northwards, it created the foundations for the Scotland we know today.
The Battle of Dunnichen with its far-reaching consequences was an event of enormous significance for the Picts, and would have been recounted from one generation to another. Over a century after it took place, the Northumbrian historian, Bede, wrote an account of it.
‘Egfrith, King of Northumbria, rashly led an army to ravage the province of the Picts. The enemy pretended to retreat, and lured the king into narrow mountain passes, where he was killed with the greater part of his forces…Many of the English at this time were killed, or forced to flee from Pictish territory.’Bede, AD 731.
You can find out more about the Picts and view Pictish stones at the following sites in Angus:
- Brechin Cathedral and Round Tower
A collection of 4 sculptured stones, the earliest being a mere fragment of a cross slab.
- Aberlemno Sculptured Stones
Three roadside stones, two with symbols only and one a cross slab.
- Montrose Museum
Two stones on display, originally from the Old Kirkyard of Inchbrayock.
- St Vigeans Museum
Around 34 stones were discovered in the churchyard here, with 31 on display in the museum.
- Meigle Museum
Over 30 sculptured stones were discovered at Meigle, all in or near to the Parish Church.
- Eassie Church
A Pictish cross slab displayed in the ruins of the old church.
- Kirriemuir Gateway to the Glens Museum
The most recently discovered Pictish stone in Kirriemuir is on display here.
- The Meffan Museum, Forfar
A fantastic collection of stones can be found here.
- St Orland’s Stone, Forfar
Located in a field outside of Forfar, this stone displays beautiful craftsmanship.
You can also visit the Dunnichen Battle Site, where a cairn has been erected to commemorate the battle.