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  • Writer's pictureLilly

Abernethy Round Tower and Pictish Stone

Earlier this week as I made my way back to Aberdeenshire (finding Pictish stones along the way), I was delighted to find a bonus in the lovely little village of Abernethy. I found a gorgeous Pictish stone at the base of an equally gorgeous round tower, and pink blossoms blanketed the churchyard behind.

This style of tower is almost exclusively found in Ireland - there are only 3 known outside of Ireland, and 2 of them are in Scotland. (The other is in Brechin, Angus). It is believed that the tower was built in the 11th Century. In 1821, 7 skulls were found while excavating the base of the tower, as well as “fragments of a light green urn, with a row of carving round the bottom of the neck.” Now there’s an intriguing mystery….

To contrast the beauty of the pink blossoms all around and the peaceful calm of the day, note the metal object hanging from the side of the tower - this is called “the jougs” and was an implement for humiliation and punishment - the offender would have the jougs fastened around the neck like a collar, and would have to stand in the public gaze to face their shame. I learned about the jougs in my research after the visit. Another thing I love about exploring - the gems that I learn in the investigation process!

The Pictish stone was discovered in the foundations of a nearby house in the 1800s, and eventually moved to the tower. Abernethy has been significant as a Pictish principle seat as well as the seat of a Celtic bishopric. I was very disappointed that I didn’t get to go up in the outer as both key holding businesses were closed that day. Have any of you been inside? I’ll just have to go back, oh darn it ;)

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