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Perth and Kinross


Kettins stone needs a home

From Blairgowrie Advertiser a couple of weeks ago;

Pictish stone needs a home

Sally Wilson

AN ancient Pictish slab, which has been severely eroded after lying in an East Perthshire churchyard for decades, could soon be conserved in a museum.

Standing at around eight foot, the engraved Pictish cross-slab, which dates back thousands of years, was discovered in around 1865 before being moved to the Kettins churchyard.

Eroded after years of use as a footbridge across Kettins Burn, now government agency Historic Scotland is due to carry out tests on the ancient monument, while villagers help find an appropriate final resting place for the slab.

Coupar Angus and Meigle councillor Alan Grant, who has been in contact with Historic Scotland, hopes the historic and cultural wealth of the cross-slab will capture the imagination of local residents and so help in a bid to try and retain the stone locally.

The sheer size of the slab, however, is likely to make relocating it difficult Councillor Grant explained. He said: "The cross-slab is described as massive and indeed it is. This means that there are two principal problems in relocating it; first you have to find a big enough building to put it in and secondly you have to have a strong enough base to support it.

"That, of course, assumes you can actually move it in the first place but Historic Scotland advise me they have a specialist team which does this type of job and they seem confident they can handle the moving. So now our most important task is to find somewhere to set it up which is firstly, and most importantly, public, and if possible, local."

Part of a former Pictish settlement, Kettins and the surrounding area has been found to be rich in 7th to 10th century stone carvings over the last 100 years or so. The discoveries in the area are recognised worldwide as one of the most important examples of early medieval sculpture in Western Europe.

And despite showing signs of physical erosion from its use as a footbridge, from the weather and from the damaging effect of ivy, the carvings are still evident on one side of the stone. Although the symbolic cross much associated with Pictish carvings is very worn, four panels on the right of the shaft contain various carvings including a griffin or winged horse, three cloaked figures and a creature with the head of a Pictish beast and the body of a horse or dog.

Historic Scotland are due to carry out a specialist assessment of the stone to decide how best to conserve it and have stressed their sensitivity to trying to retain it locally. This forms part of the work of the agency's 7,000 monument wardens and the Kettins cross-slab was identified as being in need of conservation as a matter of routine checking.

Meigle Museum, which already contains 26 sculptured Pictish stones, is being considered alongside Perth Museum, as a possible permanent home for the slab. A spokesperson from Meigle Museum explained how the museum, which is largely visited by tourists from all over the world, was considered one of the best collections of Pictish stone in the country. She added: "The stone would certainly be one of the biggest in our collection but we've got the room for it and the more we have of these ancient stones the better."
Posted by Martin
30th July 2003ce

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