|The Class I incised design of a dolphin (in
19th century terminology of Victorian antiquarians, called a 'swimming elephant' or
'Pictish beast') was discovered in the foundations of the pre-Reformation chapel at Clatt,
near Rhynie in Aberdeenshire. Along with another broken stone, it lay in Clatt churchyard
for almost a century before being built into the churchyard dyke (wall) in 1890. The
second fragment of a double disc & Z-rod is now lost. A third carved stone, also from
Clatt kirkyard, now stands at the House of Knockespock nearby. Knock-espoch means
hill of the bishop - an indication of early ecclesiastic activity in a community
associated with the Pictish (and later Celtic) church. Bishops were consecrated as early
as AD700 in Pictland.
The little creature now stands on his head within the bottom course of building
material on the outer (car park) side of the churchyard. Compare this early realism of a
pre-Christian motif with the 9th century rendition of a rather stilted dolphin on the
'pagan' side of the Maiden stone.
On the Gartnach hill outside the village of Clatt, an earlier pre-Christian sacred well
was used until the Reformation as a place of blessing and called the 'Holy' or 'salmon'
well. The carved outline of a Pictish salmon along with an overhead arch [or horseshoe or
rainbow] was embedded next to the well until the early years of the 20th century. It was
moved to Percylieu (between Clatt & Druminnor) and trimmed for use as a door lintel to
the threshing mill. It was then rescued and has become a feature of the National Trust
property of Leith Hall near Kennethmont, where it stands in a garden shelter beside
another Pictish stone, the 'Tod' (wolf) stone from Newbiggin in Leslie parish near Insch.
Click for Pictish iconography ©1999MCNagahiro.
©1999-2000 Friends of Grampian Stones
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