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Experts Reveal The Secrets Of The Hilton Of Cadboll Stone: Event To Thank Residents For Support Of Pictish Stone Projects

2 October 2009

Four leading experts on one of the great surviving masterpieces of Pictish art will be speaking at a special seminar.

The event, which is part of Highland Archaeology Festival, focuses on the results of the latest research into the Hilton of Cadboll Stone, from the north of Scotland.  It is being staged by Historic Scotland as a way of thanking people for their involvement and interest in the research projects.

It will also be a chance to let people know about the research – which has recently been published in a superb hardback book, published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland with support from Historic Scotland and the National Museum of Scotland, entitled A Fragmented Masterpiece: Recovering the Biography of the Hilton of Cadboll Pictish cross-slab.  The speakers, who are the co-authors of the book, are Heather James, Isabel Henderson, Sally Foster and Sian Jones.  

Patricia Weeks, of the Historic Scotland cultural resources team, said: “The stone is a tremendously important part of the area’s heritage and local residents played a key role in some of the research that has resulted in this book.”

“We wanted to arrange an event which would be a thank you to the community and provide a chance to hear about the research results.  This included the most complete study ever carried out of the images on the stone, with experts cataloguing and studying over 10,000 fragments of relief carving in and attempt to piece together the lost imagery removed from the stone by a seventeenth century stonemason.  So we are delighted to offer people the chance to hear from some of the leading experts in the stone who have been carrying out such important work to unlock its secrets.”

  • The seminar will take place on Thursday, 8 October, from 2pm to 4pm at the Seaboard Memorial Hall, East Street, Balintore by Tain.
    Entry is free and there will be a chance to chat to the speakers over tea and biscuits.

The titles of the talks which have so far been confirmed are:

  • Sally Foster – Research and recovery: reconstructing the biography of the Hilton of Cadboll cross slab

  • Isabel Henderson – The art of the Hilton of Cadboll cross slab

  • Sian Jones – A living monument: the social significance of the Hilton of Cadboll cross slab.


Notes for editors:

  • The Hilton of Cadboll Stone is a superbly carved cross slab which dates from around 800 AD.

  • It comes from the kirkyard of the Hilton of Cadboll Chapel, which is in the care of Historic Scotland, at is off the B9166, 12 miles north east of Invergordon.

  • The top section of the stone is in the National Museum of Scotland but the base, which was rediscovered in the 1990s, is in the Seabord Memorial Hall.

  • The stone was reused as a gravestone in 1676 and the carving on one face was lost. But the excavations of 1998 and 2001 revealed fragments of the missing original carved face.  

  • The book tells the story of what has happened to the stone since the 17th century, including the results of the latest research.

  • For details of the book, which is published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and to order copies visit www.socantscot.org/.

  • Historic Scotland has 345 historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.
    For further details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places.  

  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • 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.


For further information


Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871
rebecca.hamilton@scotland.gsi.gov.uk