The Dupplin Cross

Ordnance Survey Map Reference NO019145

The top of the cross, front

The top from the rear

The harpist on the base

Two soldiers

Mounted knight above a row of soldiers

The inscription on the cross (thanks to ScottY)

This magnificent 2.5m high stone cross used to stand in Cross Park field near the village of Dunning, Perthshire. It was then removed to the National Museum of Scotland but is now housed in Dunning Kirk. This stone is a must-see, and formed one of the main reasons for the Scottish Megarak meeting of 27th July 2002.

A worn inscription on the back of the cross has been deciphered to indicate that the cross was raised by Constantine, son of Fergus, who reigned as Pictish King from c.789 to 820 AD. The last 10 years of his reign he was also king of Dal Riata in Argyll, and therefore King of Scots too. The cross was erected in the early 9th century overlooking the Pictish royal palace at Forteviot. The symbols carved on it proclaim his kingship and authority, comparing him to the biblical King David, a warrior king much admired by the Picts.

Sutherland describes it thus:
Front: the head of the cross is surrounded by roll-moulding which makes spiral curves at intervals with a raised circular boss in the centre, which has ribbed borders containing cross. Shaft is divided into 3 panels - [1] is now to be read as a Latin inscription which translated CUSTANTIN SON OF WUIRGUST (Constantin Mac Fergus); [2] four pairs of birds with their beaks and legs crossed and interlaced round a raised boss full of circular interlace; [3] David rending the lion's jaw with two other beasts.
Left side: three small panels of interlace on top with three panels down side of shaft; [1] an elaborate beast biting his own tail; [2] a man seated on chair playing a large triangular harp (perhaps David a psalmist and musician); [3] six-cord plait-work.
Back: similar moulding round the cross as on front but the pattern within the central boss is much defaced. The arms are filled with scrolled foliage while at the top find a panel of diagonal key pattern. Three panels on the shaft, separated by key-pattern, show; [1] a warrior with a spear on horseback; [2] four foot soldiers with spears and shields; [3] a hound leaping on a ?hind.
Right edge: four panels of varied interlace with three panels down the edge of the shaft; [1] a pair of dog-like beasts on their haunches with front paws embracing; [2] two foot soldiers with shields strapped round their necks, holding spears; [3] some knot-work.

Dr Michael Spearman at the National Museum of Scotland suggests that Dupplin might have been erected by Kenneth Mac Alpin or one of his sons as a suitable dedication to a Pictish king who, like Kenneth himself, had once ruled both the Picts and the Scots with their best interests at heart.

A truly magnificent piece of sculpture, and it's a pity that a replica hasn't been raised on the original site. It should be done!

Click here for a map
courtesy of StreetMap

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