The Mystery of the Pictish stones



One of the main mysteries to come from Scotland’s past is the purpose and makers of the Pictish stones which are to be found predominantly north of the Forth – Clyde line in Scotland on its eastern side. There are no Pictish historical sources so the Picts are only known from the writings of their contempories mainly the Romans, Irish and Anglo-Saxons.  From these sources it is clear that the Picts had a distinct language. These stones are a form of stele with carvings of symbols and varied designs on them including some with ogham inscriptions. They were created by a mysterious people known as the Picts  from the Latin ‘Picti’ or ‘painted people’ who existed in this area of what is now Scotland until the 10th century AD. Most intriquing of all are those stones with carvings of the mysterious Pictish Symbols on them. These date to the period before the Picts were converted to Christianity at the end of the 7th century AD but there is little concrete information about their true meaning. Some scholars speculate that these symbol stones may have used these symbols as markers for the territory of individuals,  The symbols on the stones form a group of known ideograms or graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept, independent of any particular language, and specific words or phrases. These bulk of the symbols are unique to Pictish art and number around 40 in total. As well as the symbols being found on Pictish stones they are also found on other artefacts such the few examples of Pictish jewellery that have been recovered or small stone discs and bones. Some symbols have been found on the walls of caves and historians consider that there are strong indications that they were also used on cloths and tattoos. Many scholars now think the symbols represent words rather than images though others would dispute this. What would resolve this issue is the discovery of a type of ‘Rosetta Stone ‘ where the Pictish symbols are combined with inscriptions in a known language which would finally reveal their hidden meaning.