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Symbols and Signs

Picts: Symbols and Signs is Part 1 of our trilogy on the Pictish people of Scotland. 




This film describes the changing and competing interpretations of the Pictish symbol stones. Using film of visits to some of the most important symbol stones in the north and east of Scotland including those at Dyce, Bennachie and Aberlemno, the film analyses attempts to explain the meaning of the enigmatic symbols including the Crescent and V Rod, Double disc and Z Rod and the Pictish Beast. The film ends by posing the question:are we getting closer to unlocking the symbol code?


Our thanks go to 

Dr Meggen Gondek and Dr Gordon Noble for access to the Rhynie dig, to Monikie Rock Art for the demonstration of incised carving and to Historic Scotland for location filming.

Thanks to Pat Fish of www.luckyfish.com who kindly allowed her tattoo image of the double disc and Z rod to be used.  Visit her website to see the way she has used the Pictish symbols in her art.


Sources used in Part One. Picts: Symbols and Signs

W.A.Cummins. Decoding the Pictish Symbols. History Press, 2009

Steven Driscoll, Jane Geddes and Mark Hall. Pictish Progress: New Studies on Northern Britain in the early Middle Ages. 2007

Sally M.Foster. Picts Gaels and Scots. Birlinn 2014.

Iain Fraser. The Pictish Symbol Stones of Scotland. RCAHMS 2008

James Fraser: From Caledonia to Pictland:Scotland to 795. Edinburgh University Press 2009.

George and Isobel Henderson:The Art of the Picts. Thames and Hudson 2004

Alastair Mack. Field Guide to the Pictish Symbol Stones. Pinkfoot Press 1997

Anthony Jackson. The Symbol Stones of Scotland. Orkney Press 1984

Rob Lee: The Use of Information Theory to determine the language charcter type of Pictish

Symbols. Scottish Archaeological Journal.32.2 2010

Gordon Noble and Meggen Gondek. A very royal place: Rhynie and the Picts. current Archaeology. April 2014

Ross Sampson. The Reinterpretation of the Pictish Symbol.s Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 145 1992

Charles Thomas.The Interpretation of the Pictish Symbols. The Archaeological Journal CXX 1963

Alex Woolf.From Pictland to Alba 789-1070. Edinburgh University Press 2007