Dunkeld, Dunkeld Cathedral, 'Apostles' Stone'

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Alternative Names Dunkeld No 2
Canmore ID 79388
Site Number NO04SW 1.10
NGR NO 0237 4259
Former Region TAYSIDE
Former County PERTHSHIRE
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Archaeological Notes

NO04SW 1.10 0237 4259.

This fragment of an upright cross-slab, known as the 'Apostles' Stone', is the lower part of what may have been an appreciably taller monument; measuring 1.47m in height, 0.76m in width and 0.34m in thickness, it bears decoration on all four faces. It had formerly been used as a gate-post at the entrance to the churchyard and was described by Allen in 1903 as then standing on the S side of the cathedral; it has since been moved to the Chapter House.
It is likely that the decoration on the front of the slab was originally contained within a cross, but only the recesses beneath the arms are now clearly visible, and, because much of the left side was destroyed when the gate-jamb was cut, the layout of this face is not clear. The decoration is now very worn but appears to comprise: a horseman (in the right arm of the cross) riding behind another; a line of four men; three prostrate figures; a man with his arms raised in the 'orans' position flanked by pairs of beasts (probably Daniel in the den of the lions); at the bottom, a further row of figures. In the recess beneath the right arm of the cross there is a beast with its tail interlaced between its legs; the carving in the left recess is too damaged to interpret. The back of the stone is carved with panels of figures and heads. The two central rows contain six standing figures (some bearded) in each row (hence the popular attribution to the Apostles); above, there are at least twenty-two heads (many bearded) as well as a circular and two horizontal features; the lowest panel seems to contain five figures. Taken together, the panels possibly represent the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
The carving on the right-hand side includes a figure on horseback, a cowled figure and a row of three men; all that survives on the left side is a fragment of spiral ornament.
Information from RCAHMS (JRS) 4 December 1992.

Books and References

Allen and Anderson, J R and J (1903) The early Christian monuments of Scotland: a classified illustrated descriptive list of the monuments with an analysis of their symbolism and ornamentation, Edinburgh
Page(s): pt 3, pp 317-19 Held at RCAHMS G.1.11.ALL

RCAHMS (1994b) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. South-east Perth: an archaeological landscape, Edinburgh
Page(s): 89, 97 Held at RCAHMS A.1.7.PER

Stuart, J (1856a) Sculptured stones of Scotland,, vol.1 Aberdeen
Page(s): p.XV pl. L, LI Held at RCAHMS D.4.L.R

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