St Vigeans Pictish Stones Museum
History lovers simply should not miss out on a chance to visit the St Vigeans Pictish Stones Museum in Scotland. The museum is located in St Vigeans, a small hamlet situated on the outskirts of Arbroath, which has since been more or less assimilated into the village as one of its many suburbs.
The St Vigeans Pictish Stones Museum is an exciting collection of 32 early Christian sculpted stones. The stones have their origins in and around the St Vigeans Parish Church and include the impressive and well-reputed Drosten Stone. But before you can really appreciate the rarity of this collection, it helps to be at least a little familiar with its origins.
During the 7th century the hamlet of St Vigeans was flourishing. Named for the Latinised form of the Old Irish name Feichin, the name choice is proof that belief in Saint Feichin was flourishing in Scotland during this time period. According to archaeological evidence, Saint Feichin died in 664 and it is thought that his bones were brought to St Vigeans around 700 AD. Historians now strongly believe that St Vigeans was a thriving religious center from then right up until around 1000 AD, perhaps even serving as base for royal activities during this time period.
During this time period, a number of Pictish stones were carved and put in place on the hill at St Vigeans. Over time some of the stones have suffered at the hands of the elements and incidental vandalism, but fortunately their importance was recognized before they were completely destroyed. What makes these stones so special is that they provide a unique and fascinating glimpse into Pictish life during the time period when Irish monks gradually helped the Picts to convert to Christianity. Today you’ll find the remaining, carefully restored collection of pictish stones in a slate-roofed cottage located in the village of St Vigeans. The museum was originally opened in 1960 but was closed for restoration for a while. It was recently re-opened to the public in April 2009, with the images on the stones more visible than ever before. The museum is now run by Historic Scotland and a tour is a definite must for history lovers.
The most remarkable stone in the collection is undoubtedly the Drosten Stone. This richly carved stone is thought to have been commissioned by the rich, possibly royal patron, known as Drosten. The stone is highly decorated and contains a rare example of the use of a language other than the Pictish Ogham alphabet. Another popular stone in the collection is that of St Paul and St Antony breaking bread in the desert. These samples of an incredible collection of artefacts will hopefully entice to you visit the small but fascinating St Vigeans Pictish Stones Museum.