Overlooking the village of Shandwick on the Tarbat peninsula, in the loosely defined Scottish Highlands region known as Easter Ross, is a mysterious standing stone encased in modern day glass. The Clach a’ Charridh, or Shandwick Stone, is a Class II Pictish monolith adorned with a cross facing the seaward side and secular carvings facing inland.
Originating from a Gaelic name meaning “stone of the grave-plots”, the Clach a’ Charaidh dates from the 8th or 9th centuries when the Picts, Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Celtic people, occupied the north and east of Scotland.
During this period, the Picts, who were first recorded prior to the Roman Conquest of Britain, became Christianized, and surviving Pictish stones often boast a combination of Christian motifs and mysterious secular symbols, some of which continue to intrigue scholars today.
One side of the Clach a’ Charaidh features six panels, which include a Pictish double-disc, a Pictish Beast, woven patterns and what’s thought to be a hunting scene, with warriors depicted alongside a boar, eagle and other creatures.
Despite its ancient origins, victims of an 1832 cholera epidemic, suicides and unbaptized children were laid to rest here as late as the 19th century. After restoration work in Edinburgh, the Shandwick Stone was returned to its original position and encased in glass, protecting it from the elements and preserving the region’s heritage and enigma.