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WelcometoGroamHouseMuseumanditsdisplayofamazinglycarvedPictishstones,datingfromthe700sonwards.BythenRosemarkiehadbecomeamajorcentreofChristianityfortheMorayFirtharea.Duringthe600sADthePictsslowlyacceptedChristianity.SmallmonasterieswerecreatedonlandsgiftedbyPictishoverlords.Rosemarkiewasone.Achurchwasbuilt,withthesimpledwellingsofthebrethrennearby.Beyondwerefieldsforcropsandanimals.Atthistime,toproclaimthenewChristianbeliefs,largesculpturedstoneswithfreshdesignswerecrafted.Locallyquarriedslabswerecarvedwithacrossononeface.OntheotherwerePictishsymbolsandothermotifs.Theyare'cross-slabs'.Rosemarkie'smagnificent,tall,slimcross-slabwasmadeforthemostimportantchurchoftheinnerMorayFirth.Itoncestoodwithin50mofthemuseumasafocusforprayer,ministryandremembrance.
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ThePictsinRosemarkie
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ExhibitionofPictishArtGroamHouseMuseumhousesanimportantcollectionofcarvedPictishstones,datingfromthe700stothe900sAD,fromthetimewhenRosemarkiewasthesiteofanimportantChristiansettlement.ThenearbypromontoryatwhatisnowFortrosewouldhavebeenanimportantcrossingpointfortravellersbetweenthePictishsettlementatBurgheadandpointsfurthernorth.Thestonespresentedinthisexhibitionwereallfoundinthelocalvillage,andnodoubtmorearewaitingtobefound.Thepicturetotheleftshowstheexhibitionroom(somepartsarehiddenbyotherobjects)-movethecursoroverthepicturetoseewhatdisplayareasthereare,andclickonanyofthemtoseemoredetail.Orusethemapbelow-movethecursortoseewhat’sthere,andclickononeofthesolidbarstoseemoredetail.
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OURBOOKANDGIFTSHOPBeforeyouleave……Don’tforgettohavealookatourselectionofbooksrelatingtolocalhistoryandheritage,theworksofGeorgeBain,CelticartandthehistoryofthePictsandofScotland.Inourshopyouwillfindlotsofrelevantgiftsatawiderangeofprices-frompostcardstopiecesofjewelleryandhandcrafteditems.
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WelcometoGroamHouseMuseumThisexhibitionfocusesonthePictsofRosemarkie.Fromthe700sADonwards,thecentreofChristianityfortheInnerMorayFirthwashere.WehaveevidenceofhowthelocalPictishclericsandoverlordscelebratedtheirfaith.Theirsacredsilverobjectsdecoratedwithglass,enamelsandamberhavenotsurvived.Norhavetheirmanuscripts,leatherworkortextiles.Butsomeoftheirsuperbsculpturedstonesstillexistandareondisplayhere.
Rosemarkie’sPictishstonesDuringthe600sADPictishleadersslowlyembracedChristianity.Monksweregivenlandsbylocaloverlordsasamarkofrespecttothisnewfaith.Achapelwasbuilt,withsimpledwellingsofthebrethrennearby.Beyondwereworkers’homes,arablefieldsandroughgrazingland.ToproclaimthenewChristianbeliefs,largesculpturedstoneswithfreshdesignswerecrafted.Locallyquarriedslabswerecarvedwithacrossononeside,Pictishsymbolsandothermotifsontheother.Todaythesestonesarereferredtoas“cross-slabs”.Rosemarkie’smagnificent,tall,slimcross-slabwasproducedforthemostimportantchurchoftheInnerMorayFirth.ItoncestoodbytheearlyChristianmonasteryhere,asafocusforprayer,ministryandremembrance.Bythe1700s,thecrossslabwasnolongerupright.Itwasfoundbrokenintwowhentheoldchurchwasdemolishedin1820.Thepieceshadbeensetdownasfloorslabs.Itwasn’tuntilthelater1800sthatthestoneswerecementedtogetheragain,sothatthecross-slabcouldbere-erectedoutsidethenewchurch.
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Abishop’stombordecorativepartitions?Imaginethesetwo,thin,sandstoneslabsdecoratingtheinteriorofthestonechurchthatwasbuilthereinthe700sAD.Theseslabsmayhavebeencraftedsomedecadeslater,intheearly800sAD.Theyareskilfulworksofart,allthemoresoifthecarvedpatternswerehighlightedinoneortwocolours.Eachhasadifferentlayout,soweretheydesignedtobeviewedindividually?Ifso,perhapstheyformedthesidesofastonetomb,withtheplainareasbeingsetintothefloor.MightsuchacoffinhaveheldtheremainsofoneofthebishopsofRosemarkie,orperhapsthoseofalocaloverlord?Alternatively,theslabscouldhavebeensetoppositeeachother,perhapstoframethesacredspacearoundthealtar.Theundecoratedareascouldhavebeenhiddenwithinthewallsofthechurch.Andthesearen’ttheonlytwosuchslabs-partofanotherisdisplayedintherecessbetweenthewindows.Clickheretoviewit.
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AnaltarcrossThissmallringedcrosswasonceabrightvisualfocusforChristianworshipinthechurch.Thesmalldepressionsheldvividlycolouredglass,enamelorstoneinlays.Theoutlineofthecrossmayalsohavebeendecorated.Concentrateontheringedcross-itisallthatworshipperssaw.Therestofthestonewascoveredwithmortar.Itmayhavebeenbuiltintotheeastwallofthechurchimmediatelybehindthealtar.Orthestonewasbuiltintothefrontofthealtar,aniconicsymbolrepeatedtodayondecorativealtarcloths.OnloanfromNationalMuseumsScotland
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GraveslabThesetwostones(left)wereonceasinglegraveslab.Theright-handslabwouldhavebeensetabovetheleft-handoneandthegravecovershapebecomesclear.Movethecursorovereitherstonetoseewhatitwouldhavelookedlike.Theheadiswiderthanthefoot.Theslabcouldhavebeenthelidofacoffin,orlaidoveragrave.Ontheleftstone,thebaseofthecrosshasstepsleadinguptoit,asshownontheHiltonofCadbollandEddertoncross-slabstothenorthofRosemarkie.Butthiscrossissetonastylisedmound,Golgotha,andtheriversofParadiseseemtobeshownflowingfromit.Thesearedirectreferencestothecrucifiction,resurrectionandsalvation.LikemanyofthesculpturedstonesfoundhereinRosemarkie,thiswasprobablycarvedinthe800sAD.Thecarvingissurprisinglysharp.Perhapsitwassetinsidethechurch?
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PictishArtThesculptorsofRosemarkiecarvedthesebeautifulslabsduringthelater700sandearly800sAD.TheytooktheirinspirationfromChristiandecoratedmanuscriptsandmetalwork.Diagonal“keypattern”andinterlacewerethesculptor’sfavouredmotifs.ButtwosetsofpairedPictishsymbolswerealsocarvedintoonefaceofthecross-slab.Thesemayreflectthesponsoringoverlord’sfamilyname.Originallythesculpturedstoneswereprobablypainted.Afewarelikelytohavebeenornamentedwithpreciousmetals,colouredglass,enamelandamber.
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Rosemarkiecross-slabThishangingwithitssubtlecolourswasmadeinthe1980sbyMariannaLines.Bycarefuluseofnaturalpigments,shehasbroughtoutthebeautyandintricacyofthedesigns.Sheusedturmeric,redochre,flowerpetals,vegetabledyesandbeeswaxcrayons.Herhangingsareunique-nowadaysitisnotpermittedtomakerubbingsofanyhistoricsculpturedorincisedstones.ButtheyareastrikingwayofseeingthestonesastheymightoriginallyhavebeencolouredforsignificantfeastdaysintheChristiancalendar.Todaytakingrubbingsisnotamethodthatwemiss-wecanlaser-scanthesestonesandcolourthemdigitally.ThishangingshowstheRosemarkiePictishsymbols.Clickherefortheotherside.
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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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PictishsymbolstoneThisrubbingofthesymbolsontheEaglestoneatStrathpefferwasmadebyMariannaLinesinthe1980s.Itisnotsomethingthatanyoneisallowedtodonowadays.Theeagleandanarch-anabstractmotifratherthananobjectorstructure-areclassicPictishsymbols.Symbols,almostalwaysincisedinpairsoneabovetheother,arefoundonboulders,otherstonesandevenobjects.Theydatebetweenthe400sand600sAD,beforetheacceptanceofChristianity.SymbolstonescanbeseenfromShetlandtoFifeandacrosstotheWesternIsles.ThisstoneisnowattheedgeofStrathpeffer,onthehillsidethatlookssouthtowardsKnockFarrel.Historytellsusthatithasbeenmovedfromsomewhereneartheburialgroundatthefootofthathill,whichhasanIronAgeorPictishfortontop.It'sworthavisit.
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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.
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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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OddoneoutThisstonewasfoundbyHughFearn,Rosemarkie,inhisbackgarden.Itiscarvedwithapatternofinterlacedribbonssetwithinaborder.Thedesignisunlikeanyotherstoneondisplayhere.SomewherearoundtheHighStreetofRosemarkietheremustbeotherpieces.Trydrawingthepattern……
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