Pictish Cross-Slab, Aberlemno
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Pictish Cross-Slab, Aberlemno

Situated on the B9134 road midway between Forfar and Brechin in Angus, the village of Aberlemno has within its bounds four of Scotland's best Pictish carved monuments. Three stones stand by the roadside, the most easterly probably being the earliest. It is an unshaped stone with prehistoric cup marks, incised on one face with a serpent, a double disc and Z-rod and a mirror and comb. The small centre stone carries indistinct traces of a crescent and a curving line, but the most dramatic is the immense 3m high (10 feet) cross-slab. On the front of this monument a cross is carved in high relief, its shaft being flanked by angels, animals and panels of interlace. On the back of the stone can be seen Pictish symbols, a hunting scene and a depiction of David rending the jaws of the lion.

A fourth stone in the churchyard is intricately carved with interlace patterns cleverly intertwined with animals. The back of the cross-slab features the only known battle scene in Pictish art, a scene thought to depict the historic Battle of Nechtansmere which took place 6 miles (10 km) to the south in 685 AD. Aberlemno village is divided into three separate sections known respectively as Crosston, Kirkton and Flemington.

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