Rosemarkie’s Pictish stones were part of the monastic settlement that was flourishing by 700AD
The Rosemarkie Stone previously located in the village churchyard.
The museum’s superb Pictish sculpted stones give an idea of the importance of Rosemarkie 1,250 years ago. Through their fabulous art and design the stones tell stories of the power of kings, church and saints. They speak of an early Christian monastery that is hidden under the buildings on both sides of the High Street and down to the beach.
The highly unusual cross-slab with its intense designs stands 2.6m high. It probably stood at an entrance to the monastic enclosure, with its church, monk’s cells and burial ground. Most of the other sculpted slabs found here were originally inside the stone church. A few show fantastic beasts or men. Some feature a lightly decorated Christian cross. Others are covered in interlace, key pattern and spirals – the designs that fascinated George Bain.
The finest sculpted stones are parts of an altar, what could be the tomb of a bishop, and a shrine for relics of a saint. But which saint? There are histories that connect Rosemarkie with St Curadan, St Moluag and, in medieval times, St Boniface. Links to the early saints must have ensured the life of the monastery, politically and as a place of pilgrimage. Rosemarkie became the organisational centre of religion in Ross – its church and decorated stones speaking of centuries of activity here.
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