Tarbat Ness is home to a number of standing stones which reflect the artistic skill and Christian faith of the Pictish people who carved them. The stones may have marked the boundary of the lands controlled by the monastery at Portmahomack.
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. However, the sea-facing front side was defaced in the 17th century so the replica is mostly based on Pictish designs.
The lower portion of the stone was re-discovered in 2001 and is now preserved in the Seaboard Memorial Hall in nearby Ballintore.
Artist, Barry Grove, created a design for this side of the stone based on the surviving fragment and typical Pictish designs and symbols.
The original stone once stood outside St Mary’s Chapel, a short distance from the sea. The chapel remains are now only visible as grass-covered mounds. The stone was broken a number of times. In 1676 the upper part of the front was defaced and re-used as a gravestone. The carvings were replaced with an inscription commemorating Alexander Duff and his three wives.
The central panel of the stone shows a hunting scene. A woman wearing an ornate broach rides on horseback. She is accompanied by two other riders and two people on foot playing trumpet. Three dogs are bounding beside them.
To the left of the woman are a comb and mirror symbol. Other typical Pictish symbols appear above – a crescent and v-rod, and at the top, a double disc and z-rod.
The lower part of the Hilton of Cadboll stone was lost and only rediscovered in 2001. Having been buried underground for so long, the details of the stone carving have not weathered or worn away.
The base is now in the local Seaboard Memorial Hall. Check the website for opening hours.
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