The Eagle Stone, the Brahan Seer, Nutwood and the Earl of Cromartie

p1020708

 

This Pictish stone currently sits on a brae at Strathpeffer in Ross and Cromarty. Allegedly this brae is called Nutwood Lane which sounds horribly twee straight out the pages of Enid Blyton so we’ll draw a suitably lacy curtain over that dubious name.

eagle stone again

 The area’s rich Pictish heritage includes many symbol stones  including this one with carvings of an eagle and a horse shoe arc. It is also known as Clach an Tiopain, Gaelic for the stone of the echo, from its hollow ring when struck – a bit like listening to the wit and wisdom of Gordon Brown.

The stone is a greyish blue gneiss and stands 32ins tall by around 24ins broad and 10ins thick. The shape of the stone was presumably selected by the carver but it has not been dressed into a particular shape. It is an example of a carved fallen stone, a feature of early Pictish art, dating from the 5th or 6th centuries, or perhaps it was a rush job. Why it was carved with a horse shoe and eagle is anyone’s guess. Some say it commemorated a battle and others that it signified a marriage – a lucky horseshoe is still associated with weddings and the eagle is the symbol of the Munros – but this is all conjecture.

eagle-450[1]

The stone was carved at least 1500 years ago and originally stood where Fodderty cemetery is, between Dingwall and Strathpeffer, and was used to mark the burial place of the local Munro clan killed in a battle with the MacDonalds in 1411. The Munros won and the Eagle stone was an appropriate monument to mark where their clansmen fell in battle.

p1020704

 

As the information notice by the Eagle stone explains a century later the Brahan Seer (Coinneach Odhar), Scotland’s equivalent of Nostradamus, fortetold of a great flood across the strath if the Eagle Stone fell three times – when it had fallen twice it was thought advisable to move it higher up the strath from Fodderty to its present position and set it in concrete, just in case.

The predictions of the Brahan Seer are, of course, cobblers and instances of old Brahany hitting the nail on the head are only the ravings of delusional simple folk. The Brahan Seer was dispatched in a horrible manner that involved a barrel of boiling tar at Chanory Point at Rosemarkie. Didn’t see that coming did poor old Coinneach.

And I don’t know if the Brahan Seer predicted the coming of a development of houses close to where the stone now stands that will necessitate the felling of mature trees as well as part of the distinctive beech hedging that lines the entrance to Strathpeffer.

strathpeffer-looking-west

 

As far as I know he didn’t mention the Earl of Cromartie and his housing ambitions but maybe he did. Seems like a lot of upheaval for 15 houses but then we know what happens when a few houses get permission – before anyone knows it there’s another 15, then no reason why another 15 shouldn’t be built too. I hope that cement around the Eagle Stone is solid because if one of those diggers gets too close there’s no knowing what might happen.

b

As for the beech hedge it may yet be saved, well not saved exactly because it will be dead when howked out, but local planners, we love them all don’t we folks?, have sought to reassure people that a ‘robust replanting plan’ for a replacement hedge is, well – planned. Robust? Can’t argue with robust.

Good luck to the future of the Eagle stone in its present location. I have a feeling it’s going to need it. Hey, the Brahan Seer thing is catching.

12 Comments to “The Eagle Stone, the Brahan Seer, Nutwood and the Earl of Cromartie”

  1. Nothing wrong with something sounding like it’s from the pages of an Enid Blyton book! 🙂

  2. Having lived in that area for some time, I will be back in touch with a lot more info on the stone and the seer. My wife is an art historian who specialized in early medieval art and believes that from the stone’s date & stylistic carving, the eagle is far more likely to represent St John the evangelist as in the contemporary illustrations in the Echternach gospels.
    Many of the Seer’s prophecies have come to pass, so don’t be so dismissive!
    Ian

  3. Pictish stones are fascinating and provide us with tantalising glimpses into the lives of our ancestors. Hope your eagle one survives intact.

  4. No tarry tubs but plenty of pork barrels

  5. Good piece; and as much as we might deride the peer auld Brahan Seer the confusion and any harm he might have caused is nothing compared to the Westminster Seer Broon who with his deep knowledge of economics and his farsightedness was not only well aware but in full control of global markets, or perhaps not. I doot that Broon and the other free marketeers will be remembered with affection and delight that often attaches to the Brahan Seer. far’s the tarry tub when we need it?

  6. Very interesting item… I hope you post more ….

  7. Another great article. Really important to protect our heritage. More education needed for philistines. Keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: