N E W S F E E D S >>>

Caithness Field Club Bulletin
A survey by Tim Blackie and Colin Macaulay

Reference Number: SSC/4

Name: Ackergill 1

Description: Symbol Stone with Ogham

Present Location: NMA, Edinburgh

Original Location: Ackergill Links

ND 3483 5499

Other Documentation: BEAT p8
  CCS WIC 119
  EGMS iii p28
  IMCC No 587
  PSAS xxxi p296
Dimensions: Length up to 4 feet
  Breadth 2 feet 3 inches
  Width up to three inches

Notes: The local antiquarian John Nicholson found this portion of a Pictish symbol stone in 1896, on the links towards the south side of Keiss Bay. The stone apparently had been standing upright at the northern end of a mound which was later excavated and found to contain another symbol stone fragment (see entry for Reference Number SSC/7). Incised on one side of the surviving portion of this stone is a 'rectangle' symbol and the lower part of a 'fish'. The chief interest in this stone is the incised ogham inscription it bears. This form of script appears to have originated in Ireland, and may have been introduced to the northern Picts by Irish missionaries. The ogham alphabet as used by the Picts is as follows:

 fig 1

Reading the Ackergill 1 ogham from the bottom to the top in the usual way, the reading would be:

fig 2

Since the language or languages spoken in the area are not known, the oghams are largely unintelligible, and tend to add to the air of mystery that seems to surround the Picts rather than throw new light upon them. Whilst the two last letters of this reading might well correspond to the common Indo-European root for 'king', and the first six letters are reminiscent of the Pictish royal name 'Nechtan', this can only be conjecture at best. In any case, the ogham is probably incomplete, the top part of the stone being missing. This stone is at present on public display in the National Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh.