The sleepy village once home to a bustling Pictish community

A section of one of the remarkable St Vigeans stones which includes a depiction of a hunter with a crossbow and a boar. PIC: Crown Copyright HES.
A section of one of the remarkable St Vigeans stones which includes a depiction of a hunter with a crossbow and a boar. PIC: Crown Copyright HES.
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Not much happens in the sleepy village of St Vigeans but more than 1,000 years ago it was a bustling centre of Pictish life which thronged with monks, pilgrims and possibly even royalty.

Today, a line of redstone cottages defines the village near Arbroath in Angus but in one of these little properties can be found one of Scotland’s most important collection of Pictish-era stones that were found in an around the local church in the late 19th Century.

The stones are kept in a cottage in St Vigeans, a sleepy village on the outskirts of Arbroath in Angus. PIC: www.geograph.co.uk.

The stones are kept in a cottage in St Vigeans, a sleepy village on the outskirts of Arbroath in Angus. PIC: www.geograph.co.uk.

They depict rich detail about Pictish life and culture which flourished on the east coast between the 4th and the 9th Century.

From clerics in fringed tunics and leather bootees to a hooded archers shooting a boar with a crossbow, the 38 stones reflect everyday happenings in enigmatic Pictland.

Stags and hounds are also recorded in the stones, as well as books, stately horsemen and naked pagans.

The Drosten stone, which measures 1.75 metres tall, is one of the rare examples of a Pictish stone with an inscription.

The stones show rich detail of  Pictish life and culture which thrived in the east coast of Scotland between the 4th and 9th Century. PIC: Crown Copyright HES.

The stones show rich detail of Pictish life and culture which thrived in the east coast of Scotland between the 4th and 9th Century. PIC: Crown Copyright HES.

It mentions three names - Drosten, Uoret and Forcus - with the spelling a mix of Pictish, Old Irish and Latin.

Experts believe the inscription shows the community at St Vigeans was open to outside influences with research ongoing into its likely role as a royal monastery.

St Vigeans appears to be named after Irish Saint Féchín, who died in 665.

Devotees to the saint were likely established here before the Pictish language was replaced by Scots Gaelic, perhaps by the later 9th century, according to experts.

The collection of stones were found in and around the village church, which sits on a natural mound where a Pictish church or monastery may have once stood, during renovation work in the late 19th Century.

Now housed in the cottage which is now St Vigean’s Museum, visitors usually have to collect the key from Arbroath Abbey to view the collection,

Now, Historic Environment Scotland has announced a series of open days to give the public the opportunity to witness these powerful relics of Scotland’s Pictish era.

For more information on dates, visit www.hes.scot