Pictish Carved Stones

Maiden Stone, Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire


A now very badly eroded stone by the side of the road


Historic Environment Scotland describes this as a sculptural delight. Elsewhere it is described as one of most spectacular pieces of Pictish sculpture, with every surface carved in a series of complex designs and symbols.

It is a tall cross slab stone dating from the C9th. Originally all four sides were covered with carvings, but they are now so badly eroded, it is difficult to make out the details. The front of the stone had a cross with a figure carved above it. Only the bottom circular pattern is easily discernible.

Maiden Stone, Chapel of
                Garioch, Aberdeenshire  Maiden Stone,
                Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire

The reverse with Pictish symbols is better preserved. At the top there are four animals. Below is a notched triangle with Z-rod through it. Some sources reckon this is a representation of a chariot. Below is a Pictish beast with a long snout which could possibly have been a dolphin. At the bottom is a beautiful carving of a mirror and two sided comb.

Maiden Stone, Chapel of
                Garioch, Aberdeenshire

The sides were originally carved but again detail has eroded badly.

At the top of one side is a well defined notch. According to the local legend, a daughter of the Laird of Balquhain unwisely bet a stranger that she could bake a bannoch faster than he could build a road to the top of Bennachie. The prize would be the maiden's hand. The stranger was the Devil and finished the road and claimed the maiden. She ran from the Devil and just as he touched her shoulder, she was turned to stone, leaving a notch where she had been caught.

The stone is signed off the A96 on an unclassified road to Chapel of Garioch, a few miles north west of Inverurie. The stone is at the side of the road by a lay by and just a few paces from its original site. There is an information sign with drawings by the cross.

The nearest post code is AB51 5HR and the grid reference is NJ 704247.

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