Adding colour to Pictish carved stones

The Picts were a Celtic society of farmers and hunters and their beautiful artwork and carving can be found throughout the north and east of Scotland. As with the other Celtic peoples living along the Atlantic western coast of Europe, the evidence points to the Picts being direct descendants of the ancient people of pre-history from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age who have always lived there. The Picts, however, have remained something of a mystery. and for many years research has been undertaken to get an accurate picture of their society and lives.

Ornately decorated Pictish stones can be found and continue to be discovered across northern Scotland. Their impressive carvings of animals and symbols have a meaning that is not yet known, although many have legends attached to them such as the Maiden Stone. Now researchers have suggested that they may have painted the stones that they carved  in vivid colours. As reported in BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has been working with specialists to create new images for some of the best-known Pictish stones. Although speculative at this stage Historic Environment Scotland have suggested that to add colour to their carved stones they could have used minerals and plants to make their paints. Although the sculptures found to date have been exposed to the effects of the weather for more than 1,000 years so any pigment is likely to have been worn away, there is evidence that the Picts used colour on other objects, including metalwork. This research gives an added dimesion to the already impressive artwork of this remarkable people.


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