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WelcometoGroamHouseMuseumanditsdisplayofamazinglycarvedPictishstones,datingfromthe700sonwards.RosemarkiebythenhadbecomeamajorcentreofChristianityfortheMorayFirtharea.TheMuseumalsohousestheGeorgeBainCollection-nowrecognisedasbeingofNationalSignificance.OurexhibitiondownstairsshowsourcollectionofPictishsculpture(totheleftoftheaboveviewofthemuseum).Thisyear,localartistThomasKeyesbringsanewunderstandingofthegeometryunderlyingthedesignofthestonescarvedhere.Upstairs(totherightoftheaboveview)weshowwhatamonasticscriptoriummayhavelookedlike-wherethescribescreatedtheintricatelydecoratedilluminatedgospels.InthesamewaythatGeorgeBainexaminedthegeometryunderlyingCelticart,nowlocalartistThomasKeyesexamineshowthesameprincipleswereappliedtoPictishsculpture.
WelcometoGroamHouseMuseum
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Pictishsculpture-somemysteriesrevealed
Partofourshop-Pictish/Celtichistory
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Upstairs-TheBookofKells-somemysteriesexplained
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Pictishsculpture-somemysteriesrevealedGroamHouseMuseumhousesanimportantcollectionofcarvedPictishstones,datingfromthe700stothe900sAD,fromthetimewhenRosemarkiewasthesiteofanimportantChristiansettlement.ThenearbypromontoryatwhatisnowFortrosewouldhavebeenanimportantcrossingpointfortravellersbetweenthePictishsettlementatBurgheadandpointsfurthernorth.Thestonespresentedinthisexhibitionwereallfoundinthelocalvillage,andnodoubtmorearewaitingtobefound.Thepictureshowstheexhibitionroom(somepartsarehiddenbyotherobjects)-movethecursoroverthepicturetoseewhatdisplayareasthereare,andclickonanyofthemtoseemoredetail.Orusethemapbelowtofollowthephysicalexhibitionlayout.Usethebuttonstothelefttolookatdifferentaspectsofourexhibition.
introduction
Stonesculptures
WhowerethePicts?
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Rosemarkiecross-slab
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Rosemarkie’sPictishstonesDuringthe600sADPictishleadersslowlyembracedChristianity.Monksweregivenlandsbylocaloverlordsasamarkofrespecttothisnewfaith.Achapelwasbuilt,withsimpledwellingsofthebrethrennearby.Beyondwereworkers’homes,arablefieldsandroughgrazingland.RosemarkiewasthesiteofanimportantlocalcentreofChristianity,situatedenroutebetweenBurgheadtothesouth,andPortmahomacktothenorth.Thestonesinourcollectionareallfrom,ordirectlyconnectedwith,themonasterythatwasoncelocatedhere.Rosemarkie’smagnificent,tall,slimcross-slaboncestoodbythemonasteryhere,asafocusforprayer,ministryandremembrance.Bythe1700s,thecross-slabwasnolongerupright.Itwasfoundbrokenintwowhentheoldchurchwasdemolishedin1820.Thepieceshadbeensetdownasfloorslabs.Itwasn’tuntilthelater1800sthatthestoneswerecementedtogetheragain,sothatthecross-slabcouldbere-erectedoutsidethenewchurch.
Exhibitionoverview
Pictishsculpture-somemysteriesrevealedPictishsculpturerevealsincredibledesignskills.Thisspecialistknowledgewasalsousedwhenmakinggospelbooksandreligiousvesselsformonasteries.Allweremadebyhandbypeoplelivingin,orworkingfor,thesePictishcentres.Localartist,ThomasKeyes,isnowstudyingthesecomplexdesignsandthetoolsandmaterialstheoriginalartistsused.He’sexploringthelinksbetweentheillustrationsinmanuscriptsandonsculpture.Hiscurrentresultsarefascinatingtakealookattheyellowlabelsforourstonestofindoutmore.ThesesculptedstonesshowthatcraftsmenlivedatRosemarkie’smonastery,eitherpermanentlyortemporarily.ThegeometrytheyusedtodesignsomeofthestonesmatchesthatusedinmanuscriptsliketheBookofKells.So,whatisthelinkbetweendesignsonRosemarkie’ssculptureandinilluminatedmanuscriptsproducedinthe700sand800sAD?Inthispartoftheexhibitionwelookattheformulaethatwereusedtocreatethecompositions.Rosemarkiedemonstratesthesignificanceofthisaccurategeometry.NoothergroupofPictishsculptureshowsthissoclearly.Seefurtherinformationonthegeometryunderlyingsomeofourstonesbyclickingontheindividualstonestotheleft.
Exhibitionoverview
Hanging-rubbingofShandwickstone
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Ashrine
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OURBOOKANDGIFTSHOPBeforeyouleave……Don’tforgettohavealookatourselectionofbooksrelatingtolocalhistoryandheritage,theworksofGeorgeBain,CelticartandthehistoryofthePictsandofScotland.Inourshopyouwillfindlotsofrelevantgiftsatawiderangeofprices-frompostcardstopiecesofjewelleryandhandcrafteditems.
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Pictishsculpture-somemysteriesrevealedPictishsculpturerevealsincredibledesignskills.Thisspecialistknowledgewasalsousedwhenmakinggospelbooksandreligiousvesselsformonasteries.Allweremadebyhandbypeoplelivingin,orworkingfor,thesePictishcentres.ThomasKeyesisnowstudyingthesecomplexdesignsandthetoolsandmaterialstheoriginalartistsused.He’sexploringthelinksbetweentheillustrationsinmanuscriptsandonsculpture.Hiscurrentresultsarefascinatingtakealookathislabels(inyellow)forourstonestofindoutmore.
ThesesculptedstonesshowthatcraftsmenlivedatRosemarkie’smonastery,eitherpermanentlyortemporarily.ThegeometrytheyusedtodesignsomeofthestonesmatchesthatusedinmanuscriptsliketheBookofKells.So,whatisthelinkbetweendesignsonRosemarkie’ssculptureandinilluminatedmanuscriptsproducedinthe700sand800sAD?Inthispartoftheexhibitionwelookattheformulaethatwereusedtocreatethecompositions.Rosemarkiedemonstratesthesignificanceofthisaccurategeometry.NoothergroupofPictishsculptureshowsthissoclearly.
Ourdisplayon“The“TheBookofKells-somemysteriesrevealed”revealed”showshowanilluminatedgospelbookcouldhavebeencreatedhereinthe8thor9thcenturiesADandhowGeorgeBainrediscoveredmanyofthePictishdesigntechniquesinthemid-20thcentury.
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Tostonesoverview
Abishop’stombordecorativepartitions?Imaginethesetwo,thin,sandstoneslabsdecoratingtheinteriorofthestonechurchthatwasbuilthereinthe700sAD.Theseslabsmayhavebeencraftedsomedecadeslater,intheearly800sAD.Theyareskilfulworksofart,allthemoresoifthecarvedpatternswerehighlightedinoneortwocolours.Eachhasadifferentlayout,soweretheydesignedtobeviewedindividually?Ifso,perhapstheyformedthesidesofastonetomb,withtheplainareasbeingsetintothefloor.MightsuchacoffinhaveheldtheremainsofoneofthebishopsofRosemarkie,orperhapsthoseofalocaloverlord?Alternatively,theslabscouldhavebeensetoppositeeachother,perhapstoframethesacredspacearoundthealtar.Theundecoratedareascouldhavebeenhiddenwithinthewallsofthechurch.Andthesearen’ttheonlytwosuchslabs-partofanotherisdisplayedintherecessbetweenthewindows.Clickheretoviewit.
APictishkey-patternedpanelSomePictishsculptureisparticularlygeometric.Thepanelherewasdesignedbysomeneveryfamiliarwithgeometry.ThomsKeyesthinksthattheyexpectedtheviewersofthispiecetoknowaboutgeometry,too.Eachofthe3joinedrectanglesareintheproportionsofwhatisknownasthegoldenratio.Thiswasafavouriteamongstinsularartists.Therectanglebelowisinthegoldenratio,formingalogarithmicspiralofidenticallyproportionedrectanglesthatcangetinfinitelysmall.ItispresentonstonesinGroamHouseMuseumandiscommononInsularmanuscriptsandotherartefacts.Itshowshowcompassesandastraightedgecanbeusedtocreateaseriesofgeometricrectangles.
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©ThomasKeyes.Scribalstyles.net
Stonesoverview
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AnaltarcrossThissmallringedcrosswasonceabrightvisualfocusforChristianworshipinthechurch.Thesmalldepressionsheldvividlycolouredglass,enamelorstoneinlays.Theoutlineofthecrossmayalsohavebeendecorated.Concentrateontheringedcross-itisallthatworshipperssaw.Therestofthestonewascoveredwithmortar.Itmayhavebeenbuiltintotheeastwallofthechurchimmediatelybehindthealtar.Orthestonewasbuiltintothefrontofthealtar,aniconicsymbolrepeatedtodayondecorativealtarcloths.OnloanfromNationalMuseumsScotland
GraveslabThesetwostones(left)wereonceasinglegraveslab.Theright-handslabwouldhavebeensetabovetheleft-handoneandthegravecovershapebecomesclear.Movethecursorovereithermagnifyingglasstoseewhatitwouldhavelookedlike.Theheadiswiderthanthefoot.Theslabcouldhavebeenthelidofacoffin,orlaidoveragrave.Ontheleftstone,thebaseofthecrosshasstepsleadinguptoit,asshownontheHiltonofCadbollandEddertoncross-slabstothenorthofRosemarkie.Butthiscrossissetonastylisedmound,Golgotha,andtheriversofParadiseseemtobeshownflowingfromit.Thesearedirectreferencestothecrucifiction,resurrectionandsalvation.LikemanyofthesculpturedstonesfoundhereinRosemarkie,thiswasprobablycarvedinthe800sAD.Thecarvingissurprisinglysharp.Perhapsitwassetinsidethechurch?
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TheShandwickcross-slabJustnorth-eastoftheBlackIsle,ontheTarbatpeninsula,arethreemoremagnificentPictishcross-slabs.ThestoneatShandwick,ofwhichthisisarubbing,standsashighastheRosemarkiestone,butitisbroader.TherearetwomoreatNiggandHiltonofCadboll.ThisfacehasapairofsymbolsatitstopadoublediscandPictish‘beast’(adolphin?).Belowisacomplexhuntingscene,followedbyasuperbtriskeledesignwithinterlaceandkeypatternbelow.Todayitisaone-colourstoneslab.Imagineitcoloured,asonthishangingbyMariannaLines,anditreallycomesalive.TheothersideoftheShandwickcross-slabisdeeplysculpted,withaChristiancrosssurroundedbybeasts,angelsandinterlaceddesigns.ItisquitedifferentfromtheRosemarkiecross-slab.Ourcross-slabhasnohuntingscenes,orobviousintertwinedanimals,beastsorfiguresfromeverydaylifeandthebible.Toprotectthestonesthetakingofrubbingsisnownotpermittedforanyreason.
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AgravemarkerThissculpturedslabispartofagravemarker,craftedduringthe800sAD.Thecarvingisnowblurred-aresultofcenturiesofweatheringthatitsufferedwhileoutinthegraveyard.Butthetwocoiledsnakestoeithersideofthecrossarestillvisible.ForChristians,snakesweresymbolicofbothgoodandevil.Theyshedtheirskins-asymboloftheresurrectionofChrist,andofre-birththroughbaptismintothefaith.ButitisalsobelievedthatSatantooktheformofaserpenttolureAdamandEveintosin.Noticinghowandwhereserpentsfeatureonasculpturedslabaidsinterpretation.Heretheyarecoiledtogetherclosetothecross-theyaresymbolsofgood.SimilarlyontheNiggandShandwickcross-slabs,tothenorthofRosemarkie,theytwistaroundthebossesbythecrosstoreflectthegloryofGod.
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MakingmistakesThesculptorhascopiedoutthewrongspirallingsnakeontheright-handside.Ifthecraftspersonwasbeingexactthespiralwouldhavebeeninverted.Weretheyworkingfromatracing?Didtheyforgettoturnitoverwhentheymovedfromonesideofthecrosstotheother?ThomasKeyes’workshowsthattracingpapercouldhavebeenmadefromlowqualityparchmentthathadn’tstretchedwell.Thiswouldhaveresultedinatranslucentvellum.
Geometryoverview
Geometryofstone
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Travellingmonks?Twomenwalkfromrighttoleftacrossthisfragment.Oneisshowninalonggarmentwithadecoratedborder.Heseemstobeonhighergroundandislargerthantheother.Themanwhowalksbehindhimholdsastaff.Whatdothesefiguresdepict?Themanontheleftmaybeasaintorbishop,theoneontherightamonk.SimilarcarvingsofclericscanbeseenfartothenorthandsouthoftheMorayFirth,buttheyaren’tcommoninthisarea.OnloanfromNationalMuseumsScotland
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AtaleofdamnationThissculpturedfragmentisunlikeanyotherfoundatRosemarkie.Itlooksasifthehumanfigureisbeingattackedbythreedifferentbeasts,Therearethefeetoftwootheranimalsacrossthetop.Thelargestbeastcouldbeabear.Theothersmightbedogsorwolves.Butisthebeardedheadactuallyonahumanbody?Takeacloserlook-theneckseemsfartoolong…Thismaybepartofasceneofdeathanddamnation.SuchimagerywascarvedonvariousPictishcross-slabsandgraveslabs,particularlythoseinAngusandPerthshire.Theitemisareproduction.TheoriginalsculptureisinNationalMuseumsScotland.
Stonesoverview
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ThealtartopThissmallslabisofsurprisingimportance.Imagineitlyingflat,itsvisiblesurfaceuppermostwiththecarvedbordernearestyou.Thetopedge(notvisiblehere)isalsosculpted.Thisdecorationwouldhavebeenclearlyvisiblewhentheslabformedthesurfaceofthealtar.Sculptedstoneslikethisandtheotherthinkey-patternedslabsfoundatRosemarkie(clickheretoseethem)arenotcommon.TheyreflecttheimportanceofthisChristiancentre.ThereareafewotherconcentrationsofsculptureassociatedwithearlymedievalmonasticsitesaroundtheMorayFirth-atPortmahomacknearTain,andKinnedarnearElgin.Butsomeofthedesignscarvedonthestonesshowdifferentpriorities,probablyreflectingtheindividualwishesofthosewhocommissionedthepieces.OnloanfromNationalMuseumsScotland
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AnotherfineslabLikethetwolongslabsontheright-handwalldisplay(click(clickheretoview)view)thismustbepartofatomboradecorativewallfeaturefromthechurch.Butthedesignandtheareaitcoversaresubtlydifferentfromtheothers.Whatarethedifferences?Thereisnoblankareafortheslabtobesetintoaplinthorwall.Thekeypatternhasfewerrepeatsthantheothertwo-buteventheyarenotequal.Canyouspottheothers?Allofthesevariablessuggestthatthethreeslabswereoncepartofatleasttwoseparatemonuments.
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Hanging-theRosemarkiecross-slabThishangingshowsboththefrontofthecross-slabandthetwosides.Onlyafewcross-slabsaresculptedonallfourfaces.Wasthetopalsocarved?Thesidepanelsarebothcarvedwithvaried,complexornament.Theyarefilledwithsmall,strangeinterlacedcreatures-bird-headedserpents,creatureswithsnoutedheadsandfishtails,andsnakeheadedreptiles.UnlikeotherPictishcross-slabs,theseintertwinedanimalsaretheonlyonesontheRosemarkiecross-slab.Itisuniqueinnothavinghumanfigures,animalsorbeastsonatleastoneofitsmainfaces.Toprotectthestonesthetakingofrubbingsisnownotpermittedforanyreason.Clickherefortheotherside.
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Hanging-theRosemarkiecross-slabThishangingwithitssubtlecolourswasmadeinthe1980sbyMariannaLines.Bycarefuluseofnaturalpigments,shehasbroughtoutthebeautyandintricacyofthedesigns.Sheusedturmeric,redochre,flowerpetals,vegetabledyesandbeeswaxcrayons.Herhangingsareunique-nowadaysitisnotpermittedtomakerubbingsofanyhistoricsculpturedorincisedstones.ButtheyareastrikingwayofseeingthestonesastheymightoriginallyhavebeencolouredforsignificantfeastdaysintheChristiancalendar.Todaytakingrubbingsisnotamethodthatwemiss-wecanlaser-scanthesestonesandcolourthemdigitally.ThishangingshowstheRosemarkiePictishsymbols.Clickherefortheotherside.
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AshrineRosemarkie’sfirststonechurchmayhavebecomeaplaceofpilgrimage.Thissculpturedslabcouldreflectsucharole.Itisonesideofastoneshrine-aboxthatwouldhaveheldafewbonesofasaint.RosemarkieisgenerallylinkedtoStCuradan,oneofthebishopswhowitnessedStAdomnan’sLawofInnocentsin697AD.Thiswasthefirstdeclarationofrightsforthesafetyofwomenandchildrenduringwarfare.ItwassignedbyrepresentativesofChristiankingshipsacrosstheBritishIslesatameetinginIreland.Thiscarvingwasdonearound100yearslater.Itrepresentsatreevinewithgrapes,symbolisingChrist’sdisciples,Hisblood,andsalvation.Theimageryisjustrightforashrine-perhapsthestoneboxwaspreparedforrelicsofStCuradan.ButthereisalsoastorylinkingthechurchtoStMoluagwhosemonasticfocuswasonthewestcoast,onLismore.Hediedin592AD.Weresomeofhisbonesbroughthereduringthetroubled800s?ItwasatthistimethatStColumba’srelicsweretakenfromIonatoDunkeld.
AcomplexgeometryTherectanglethatthistreevinesitswithinisnotofthegoldenrationformula.Itisfarmorecomplex:2-squarerootof3+1Interestingly,thesameformulaseemstohavebeenusedonthefamousIrishbookshrine,theSoiscelMolaise,ondisplayintheNationalMuseumofIreland,Dublin.
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©ThomasKeyes.Scribalstyles.net
AgraveslabThissculpturedstonehasbeenrecutforuseasabuildingblock.Thetopandrightsidehavebeentrimmedandmostofthelengthofthemassiveslabismissing.Evenso,weknowitispartofthelidofastonecoffin,oragravecover,perhapssetoutsideinagraveyard.Atthecentrethereisadiagonalcross,representingsalvation.Itissurroundedbythree-loopedknotsknownas“triquetras”.Theypossiblyrefertothe12Apostles,theoriginaldisciplesofChrist.TherestoftheslabwouldalsohavehadmotifssymbolisingaspectsoftheChristianfaith-justlikeoneofthemassivegravecoversatMeigleinPerthshire.Itisthoughtthatthisstonecannotbepartofacross-slab.Thereisnoevidencethatitwasevercarvedonthereverse,andthedesigntapers.Soitisusuallyinterpretedasasurprisinglywidegraveslab.
Leftwalloverview
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Stonesoverview