8.3 Shandwick

The cross-slab stone at Shandwick is covered with Christian symbols. This is an expression of Pictish Christianity rather than being a stone which combines pagan and religious designs.

Shandwick stone © Alan Sproull

There were probably a number of monastic settlements along this coast under control of the large monastery at nearby Portmahomack.

The stone is called Clach a’Charaidh in Gaelic meaning ‘stone of the grave plots’.

It lies slightly inland and has been preserved in a glass shelter. It is said to have been a landmark for sailors traveling along this coast.

The cross consists of circular bosses and is surrounded by interlocking spirals. Across the surface of the stone, intertwined snakes coil around each other.

These snakes had a religious significance - they are associated with evil and the temptation of Adam and Eve. In medieval times, snakes also signified rebirth and regeneration as they burrow underground and re-emerge having shed their old skin.

Shandwick stone detail © Alan Sproull

There are five panels of decoration on the back of the stone. The carvings include beasts, hunting scenes, men on horseback, fighting swordsmen and a hunter carrying a cross-bow.

 

Getting there

Shandwick is just south of Hilton of Cadboll. Follow the coast road from Hilton through Ballintore and Shandwick. As you leave Shandwick, the road rises and you will see the cross encased in a protective glass box on the right.


 
   
  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    8.1 Tarbat Discovery Centre, Portmahomack

    Between 1994 and 2007 archaeologists excavated an area around the church of St Colman at Portmahomack on the tip of Tarbat Ness. They discovered an extensive monastic settlement dating from the late 6th century.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    8.2 Hilton of Cadboll

    The cross-slab at Hilton of Cadboll is a replica of the stone which originally stood here. It was carved in 2000. The land-facing back of the stone is a copy of the original stone which is now in the Museum of Scotland.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    8.3 Shandwick

    The cross-slab stone at Shandwick is covered with Christian symbols. This is an expression of Pictish Christianity rather than being a stone which combines pagan and religious designs.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    8.4 Nigg Stone

    The Nigg Stone is one the finest carved Pictish stones. It was carved around 800AD - or perhaps earlier - and is covered in Christian symbols.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    8.5 Craig Phadraig

    Craig Phadraig is a wooded hill on the edge of Inverness. Follow the path up the hill to discover the possible remains of King Brude’s fort.

  • Dunadd Fort, Argyll.
     

    8.6 Other Pictish Stone Sites North of Inverness

    Explore the history of the Picts along the east coast from Inverness northwards.