New Look St Vigeans Pictish Stones Museum Now Open
21 April 2009
The new-look St Vigeans Museum has opened giving visitors the chance to appreciate one of the finest collections of Pictish carved stones.
Historic Scotland has carried out a major modernisation so the 38 stones, many decorated with superb carvings of animals, warriors, saints, angels and fabulous beasts can be enjoyed to the full.
The collection includes some of the latest and finest surviving examples of Pictish art, including carved and decorated crosses.
The display area has been doubled in size and the stones are now presented so that the carvers’ skills can be fully appreciated.
An audio-visual display has been installed which uses the latest research to tell the 1,200-year story of the stones.
Educational resources have been introduced so school groups can make use of the collection as part of their studies.
Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotland head of cultural resources, said: “The museum has been absolutely transformed and we are delighted that it is open to the public again.
“The St Vigeans stones are a magnificent part of Scotland’s heritage and we’d like everyone to be able to enjoy them.
“They are especially significant because the Picts left little behind and much of what we know about them is through their art and craftsmanship.
“These stones provide a direct link with their world, telling us about the ideas and beliefs of those who carved them. Above all the stones tell us about a time when this small Angus village was an important place of faith and politics in the early medieval world.”
In the past visitors had to collect the keys to the museum from Arbroath Abbey, but a member of staff is now on site to provide help and information.
Historic Scotland also commissioned new research into the stones and their past.
A computer database containing research results and pictures is available at the site for visitors who want to know about them in depth.
A CD-Rom containing the information from the database, and accompanying booklet, have been produced and is now on sale for £4.95 from Arbroath Abbey, St Vigeans and Meigle Museum and also via the website.
An official opening is planned for later in the year.
Notes for editors
- The museum will be open all year round. During April to October it will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Special visits can also be arranged at other times. Tickets are £3.70 for adults, £3 for concessions and £1.85 for children. Telephone 01241 878756.
- The museum is in the village of St Vigeans, one mile from Arbroath off the A92.
- The stones are the first rank of importance alongside the Early Medieval carved stone collections at Meigle, St Andrews, Whithorn and Iona, all in the care of Historic Scotland.
- Many of the stones come from the decades shortly before 843 AD when the Pictish kingdom was united with Gaelic Dal Riata under a single monarch – leading to the birth of Scotland.
- The most famous item in the collection is the Drosten Stone, a cross slab with an ornate cross and fantastic beasts, as well as a rare Latin and Pictish inscription.
- The museum was previously all contained in the small cottage at number 3, Kirkstyle, St Vigeans. It has been enlarged by extending the exhibition space into the cottage at number 4, Kirkstyle, which was previously used as a store.
Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.