27-8 VIII 1773
8 IX 2013


Sueno's stone

The stone, now set within a glass case, stands 6 metres tall, much larger than most Pictish stones. We concurred with the sign: “The absence of an inscription on the stone forbids a firm conclusion”. Peter Davidson agreed too, in Distance and Memory, describing its meaning as “forgotten, gone. It remains pure because it is unknowable.” He compares it to Eliseg’s Pillar in Wales, which Ken once visited and wrote of, in the poem ‘Homelands’:

   Eliseg’s Pillar stands as Glyn-y-Croes
   (or, as the monks would know it, Valle Crucis)
   where Cyngen traced his lineage;

   time has smoothed entirely his inscription,
   are disappearing too the letters which
   remember Lloyd, the pillar’s

   transcriber and its partial renovator
   after Puritan demolishing.
   The cross is gone, while the name lingers…

All those layers of history accumulating round this stone, and overlaying – obscuring – whatever its original meaning might have been.

Sueno’s Stone depicts scenes  of battle, and Ken speculated, wildly, that the masons on the losing side were forced to carve it as a tribute to the victors, then beheaded – and so it became the last of its kind.


Cockburn, Ken, Souvenirs and Homelands (1998)
Davidson, Peter, Distance and Memory (2013)
Fraser, Iain (ed.), The Pictish Symbol Stones of Scotland (2008)
Robinson, David (ed.), Valle Crucis Abbey: The Pillar of Eliseg (1987)