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Dogton Stone

Once a splendid free-standing cross probably of 9th-century date

Dogton Stone

Once a splendid free-standing cross probably of 9th-century date. All that now remains is a much weathered fragment, best appreciated when appropriate lighting conditions highlight the surviving decoration.


The Picts and their symbols

The Picts were descendants of Iron-Age tribes who occupied the lands north of the Forth and Clyde estuaries in the first millennium AD. We know very little about them, but lasting reminders of their existence are the more than 200 carved stones scattered across the country. Each one displays a rich variety of carving.

We do not know why the Picts carved and erected these stones. They may have been intended as memorials to great warriors, as boundary markers between neighbouring tribes or to represent marriage alliances. What is certain is that they are works of art executed by skilled craftspeople.

The earliest stones, probably dating to around AD 600, have a variety of enigmatic symbols cut directly into the surface of the stone. These stones are concentrated in north-east Scotland, around the Moray Firth. The later stones date from after AD 700. They are symbol-bearing cross slabs, on which the Christian cross dominates the traditional symbols. A handful are free-standing crosses.

A rare survival

The Dogton Stone is a rare survival of a Pictish free-standing cross. Such crosses were never common in Pictish territory, and, with the exception of the famous Dupplin Cross, tend only to survive in fragmentary form.

Only the base and the lower part of the cross-shaft remain of the Dogton Stone. Its decorative carving is now badly weathered, but among the largely abstract ornamentation is the image of an armed horseman above two beasts. The form and design of the cross suggest a date around AD 900.

The fact that the base survives indicates that the cross still stands where it was originally erected. This is exceedingly rare for Pictish monuments. But why the cross was erected here is a mystery. Did it mark the boundary of a religious site, or overlook an important lordly residence? And does horseman represent its lordly patron?

Highlight
  • The armed horseman – a rare image of a Pict.

Facilities

Strong Footwear Recommended

Location

Region – Kingdom of Fife

In a field at Dogston farmhouse, 1.5m East of Cardenden railway station off the B922. Not signposted.

Grid reference - NT 236 968.