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News on Radio Orkney of the find of a Pictish Symbol Stone under the original flagstone floor of Appiehouse in Sanday. Several pagan ones have been found in Orkney - offhand I can think of the Brough of Birsay [copy there, original South], Greens in South Sanday in St Andrew's [original South], and St Peter's Church at Kirkhouse in Paplay on South Ronaldsay [copy there, original South]. However this one is Christian/Christianised, a cross-slab with a Pictish Beast to one side (sometimes called a sea elephant IIRC). The two elements mean this is classed as Type 2. This is the only one ever found on Orkney and is likely to remain so. Julie Gibson reminds us that these were usually placed prominently to indicate that the owner had turned Christian. The Pictish Beast has by some been identified with the monster that St Columba exorcised from Loch Ness, which in turn is read as a metaphor for the triumph of Christ over the pagan deity. The radio did not mention the obverse - was this plain or has the stone yet to be lifted, in which case we might hope for an inscription to come.

Appie is usually a placename element associated with the Picts, if not necesssarily always a Pict placename [to forestall arguments]. It is very common in Orkney e.g. there are Appiehouse, Appietown and Upper Appietown in Harray along the line of the road up to Dounby. The farm of Appiehouse in Sanday sits on a very slight mound (the larger farm-mounds on Sanday are called tells after Mesopotamian mounds). At Appiehouse in Harray there is a prominent mound that has at least one standing stone on it. This broken stone is now less than a metre high. With its lack of packing around the base could this too have once been a symbol stone ??

Thinking of the Paplay district in South Ronaldsay presumably as in Holm and Paplay it refers to a priestly settlement. But my fanciful brain reads it as papil-ey 'isle of the priests', and about half a kilometre and roughly N from the church a mound in marshy ground (Kirk Ness ND49SE 7) "appears to have stood on the shore, or been on an island near the shore, of a shallow loch which has been long since drained" (Canmore ID 9609). It might have been a broch, in 1879 the O.S. Name Book gives it as traditionally a Danish Fort (though by 1929 locals though the structure on the knoll to have been fishermen's homes !). The 14' high Sorquoy standing stone is about another half kilometre from the mound and under a kilometre from the church.

wideford Posted by wideford
21st July 2011ce
Edited 21st July 2011ce

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