The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

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The Craw Stane, Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The Craw Stane at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire.

   OS Grid Reference: NJ 49718 26343. In a field just to the south of the village of Rhynie, Aber-deenshire, beside the earthworks of the ancient settlement overlooking the Water of Bogie, stands The Craw Stane or Crow Stone, a granite slab with Pictish symbols that are thought to have been carved in the 5th century AD. Several more Pictish stones have been found in this area including one called ‘Rhynie Man’, which now stands in the Council HQ in Aberdeen. The Craw Stane stands at the south-side of what is probably a prehistoric mound or cairn.  It can be reached along Manse Road, south out of Rhynie for ¼ of a mile. After St Luag’s church and cemetery follow the footpath heading to the southwest; the stone can be seen in front of you. Or it can be viewed from the side of the road by going south for 100m out of the village on the A97 (Main Street) and from nearly opposite the entrance to Mains of Rhynie.

   The Craw Stane or Crow Stone (also called Rhynie No 1) stands on the south-facing slope of the hill above the Bogie Valley and at the E side of the ancient earthworks of a Settlement and Enclosure (where there have been a number of archaeological finds) – at the W and SW sides of which are a couple of burial mounds from a much earlier date – the southwestern mound is quite large and could be a long cairn; at the southern edge of this the stone is to be found. It is a granite slab measuring 5 feet 7 inches high by 3 feet wide and stands on a stone base. This Class I symbol stone has two quite distinct symbols: a fish and a beast. The fish is probably a salmon while beneath that the beast might be any large animal, but the suggestion is that it is an elephant, but it is more likely to be a mythical creature. These carvings were probably done in the 5th or early 6th century AD, long before the Picts were Christianized.

   Several more Pictish stones can be found in and around the village of Rhynie. One known as Rhynie Man or Rhynie No 7 has a carving of an ogre with a big nose, sharp teeth, and a rather fragile axe; this now stands in the Regional Council HQ at Aber-deen. Another, The Barflat Stone or Rhynie Barflat No 8, is another Class I symbol stone that was ploughed up at Barflat farm in 1978 and had a beast, curvilinear symbol and comb, but is now also at Regional Council HQ, says Elizabeth Sutherland. Two stones that are damaged can be found at the entrance to the graveyard of Rhynie Old Church which is dedicated to St Luag (OS grid ref: NJ 4994 2650). Both were removed from the foundations of the original church when it was demolished in 1878, so says Elizabeth Sutherland. No 5 has a beast’s head, double disc and Z rod beside a mirror and single-edged comb, while No 6 has part of a double-disc and Z rod above a crescent and V-rod with a mirror below. Two more stones Nos 2 & 3 stand on Rhynie village green (OS grid ref: NJ 4980 2715) but are damaged. No 2 has carvings of a double-disc and V-rod, now invisible, while No 3 shows a man’s back, spear and disc, again according to Elizabeth Sutherland in her excellent work “The Pictish Guide’. There is also further information in ‘The Pictish Trail’ by Anthony Jackson.

Sources of Information and related websites:-

Jackson, Anthony, The Pictish Trail, The Orkney Press Ltd., St Ola, Kirkwall, Orkney, 1989.  

Sutherland, Elizabeth, The Pictish Guide, Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh, 1997.

The AA, Illustrated Road Book Of Scotland, The Automobile Association, London, 1963.,_Aberdeenshire

                                                                                    © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.