Royal Deeside : The Formaston Stone, Aboyne
The Formaston Stone, now on display at the Aboyne Hall. It is a fragment of one of the highest category Class 2 Pictish carved symbol stones.
The following article was written by Jane Kruuk and forms the text of the notice hanging next to the Stone
Originally this fragment of the carving of a Christian cross shaft was in St. Adamnan’s Kirkyard just east of Aboyne, and it was moved to the grounds of Aboyne Castle at the end of the nineteenth century. The Marquis of Huntly lent it to the Carnegie Museum in Inverurie for safekeeping during renovations to the castle in the early 1970’s. In August 2002, at the instigation of the Deeside Antiquarian Society, it was returned to Aboyne through the generosity of the Marquis and the Heritage Lottery Scheme.
What makes the Formaston Stone of special interest is its three distinct types of decoration - the Pictish mirror symbol, the Celtic interlaced carving of the cross shaft, and an inscription in the Pictish Ogham alphabet at the edge of the right hand side. It is one of the few Pictish symbol stones in the north east to have a cross, and the style of the interlace suggests that the slab dates from the end of the period of Pictish independence in the ninth century. Stones that combine both Celtic and Pictish decoration are classified as Class II whereas the Kinord Stone, which has a complete cross and stands on the shores of Loch Kinord to the west of Aboyne, has no symbols and is classified as Class III.
We know very little of the Pictish people beyond their carvings and Ogham is the only written record, carved on stone, that they have left. Even here the meaning of the inscriptions is uncertain. It is a series of straight lines, and it was probably introduced to the Picts from the west of Scotland and Ireland in the eighth century. Suggestions are that such inscriptions may have been boundary markers, memorials to the dead or perhaps the record of a union between tribes by marriage. On the Formaston Stone, one line is carved into the beading at the edge which suggests that the inscription may have been added as an afterthought to an already skilfully decorated stone.
An additional note on the original location of the stone
Formerly the village of “Obyne” stood about a mile eastward in the vicinity of the earlier church of the parish later known as Formastoun. This is located at the eastern boundary of Aboyne Loch Golf Centre and The Lodge on the Loch of Aboyne; where the ruined walls of the old manse serve to direct attention to the churchyard and the sign on the gate aptly states “forgotten by the world”. The east end of the old graveyard is enclosed as the burial ground of the Inness’s of Balnacraig and Ballogie. A striking evidence of antiquity was found under the doorstep of the old church – one of eight oghams known to exist in Scotland, known now as the Formaston Stone. Possibly the churchyard had originally been a Pictish burial place, as the stone bears a Runic inscription signifying that a Pictish king was buried there.
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