Pictish carved stone discovered in Orkney cliff
Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) with support from Historic Environment Scotland complete a delicate rescue mission to recover a rare Pictish Carved Stone from an eroding cliff face in East Orkney.
|The Pictish Cross Slab [Credit: Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark]|
Following one of these storms, Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark, an archaeologist based in Orkney, was examining an area of the East Mainland coast that had been particularly hit during a south westerly gale and discovered something amazing – a stone that had been unearthed by the sea, projecting precariously out of the soft, cliff face. This stone, on closer examination, was different to the other rocks at the site – it had obviously been worked and designs were visible and clearly ancient.
|The reverse side of the slab [Credit: UHI Archaeology Institute]|
The race was on. Nick Card, Senior Projects Manager at ORCA (University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute), contacted Historic Environment Scotland, who realizing the significance of the find offered funding support to investigate, remove and conserve the precious object.
|Stone slab excavated from eroded cliff face [Credit: UHI Archaeology Institute]|
Nick Card takes up the story,”Carved Pictish Type 2 Stones are rare across Scotland with only 2 of this type having been discovered in Orkney. This is therefore a significant find and allows us to examine a piece of art from a period when Orkney society was beginning to embrace Christianity. Now that the piece is recorded and removed from site, we can concentrate on conserving the delicate stone carving and perhaps re-evaluate the site itself.”
“The Orcadian coastline is an extremely dynamic environment, and it was clear that we needed to act quickly” says Dr Kirsty Owen, HES Senior Archaeology Manager. Because the stone has been properly excavated, we have a better chance of understanding how it relates to the development of the site.”
The excavation of the Pictish stone was undertaken with funding from the Historic Environment Scotland Archaeology Programme, which is primarily intended to rescue archaeological information in the face of unavoidable threats.
The stone is now removed from the site and is scheduled for conservation and possible display at a future date. The site may be re-evaluated with funding being sought for further work.
Author: Seanlisle1 | Source: The Archaeology Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands [October 28, 2016]