Friends of Grampian Stones
FOGS Vernal Equinox News
Volume X number 1, All Hallows, November 1st 1998
Power of the Pictish Church
PICTISH RELIGIOUS sites throughout Northeast Scotland can be detected in several ways:
sparse records recall foundations at Deer, Kinneddar, Forglen, Turriff & Monymusk.
Most often a placename or patron saint reminds us of their signifigance in the centuries
between the earliest so-called pagan years documented by Roman & Northumbrian
historians and the 9thC when Christian Scots under Kenneth macAlpin made an effort to
impress on the populace their knowledge of Columban (Celtic) Christianity.
Dyce & Dupplin
WE promised to keep you posted on developments at Dyce - following the removal of all
symbol stones (Classes I & II) and cross-incised stones & slabs from the niche in
St Fergus' kirk to Historic Scotland (HS) conservation department in Edinburgh. The
official word is that they will not be returned until Aberdeen City Council cooperates in
providing an enclosure to be built after committee decision-making involving all
interested parties (perhaps relevant to note that your society has not yet been invited to
give views). Nevertheless, as we know well, at committee level this process is almost
bound to take several years.
HS has proudly announced the discovery of a grandiose ogham in near-perfect state of
preservation on the rear face of the Dyce Class II cross slab and, while we are delighted
about the discovery, we feel it would be appropriate to have the stones back in their
place of origin.
SADLY Standingstones recumbent stone circle on the Kirkhill at Dyce comes in for a lot of
misuse (NJ 859 132). Graffiti and litter left over the summer can be dealt with by human
carers, but the most recent bout of vandalism threatens the stones themselves. FOGS
RedAlert team reports that sometime during August 1998 a bonfire or bonfires had been set
under the leaning slab which projects between two flankers towards the centre of the
circle, while portable stones had been placed on either side of a makeshift hearth to
contain a blaze. Heat generated over years of this type of misuse has caused a major crack
in the recumbent. Historic Scotland, in whose care the monument stands, were informed and
it is hoped that this time the circle will be provided with sufficient protection to deter
such mindless activity. FOGS supports increased legal pressure on vandalism of this kind
and any member wishing to write to her/his MP is encouraged to do so. A comment from HS
Chief Inspector that this kind of activity was noted ongoing in the 1920s does little to
reassure us. But Dyce RSC stands within the jurisdiction of Aberdeen City Council and the
City's Archaeology Keeper Ms Judith Stones is known for efficiency and has an active team.
In view of the City's lack of monuments of such antiquity (ca. 5000 years old) when
compared with the rich heritage of its hinterland, and considering public interest in its
history and prehistory, it is hoped effective conservation will result. [Ed: note since
this item was published in November 1998, HS chief inspector and author of the remark
mentioned has retired , but more positively, Historic Scotland has coordinated and funded
conservation work at the Standing Stones of Dyce. MY- October 1999]
Altyre slab origins confirmed
ELGIN Museum conference was seminal with speakers including Dr Isobel Henderson &
Martin Carver providing much new information; not least of which was the discovery of
Altyre cross' original findspot at Longhillock on the Alves-Duffus march NJ14-64.
Our Annual Meeting is on Thursday, December 17th 1998 at Marischal Museum, at which we are
fortunate to have Northeast native and renowned early historian, Dr Penny Dransart speak.
She has spent several recent summers entrenched (literally) in the early Episcopal Palace
at Fetternear; her subject is 'Christianity & the Picts in NE Scotland' Any
outstanding annual dues may be paid up then.
. . .membership feedback. . .
MEMBERS prompted by our RedAlert on the Dyce recumbent stone circle anxious for firmer
handling of vandalism at ancient monuments are encouraged to write to their Member of
Parliament. Residents of Aberdeen have most influence in this case, but all of
Aberdeenshire is at risk, judging by recent reports from English Heritage of similar
activities occurring in South Britain. Thanks to a timely warning, FOGS may yet be able to
prevent a rash of public vandalism of the worst kind. This is important in our area of
interest, as we all know how fragile is our cluster of antiquities; but also how much more
pressure must be put on public servants to take their responsibilities seriously. The A96
Kintore bypass with demolition of the Roman marching camp is a case in point. FOGS can
encourage and support, suggest and advise. It is up to our official bodies to implement a
strategy which not only protects but respects a unique heritage. They are after all
employees of agencies paid for by the Nation, responsible to the Secretary of State for
Scotland and subject to public opinion. [Summer 1999 update: official state body now
called the Scottish Executive, MY Ed.]
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