Surveying the Symbol Stones

Helen Mulholland

From this basis our ancestors seem to have worked out a methodology of land measurement. First they established two limits, one stretching from east to west … the other stretching from north to south’ 

Julius Frontinus, De Limitibus, Corpus Agrimensorum Romanorum (trans. Campbell, 2000, 9)

In this quest, the presence and proximity of the Roman Empire in the first four centuries AD is crucial. Hunter, 2007, 1

If a boundary stone has its top carved in the form of an eagle it indicates a boundary line that has been cut across a mountain.. Latinus, Corpus Agrimensorum (Campbell, 2000, 227)

We may conjecture, then, that somewhere in this triangle formed by Bennachie, the Don and the Urie, lies Ner, the earliest historically documented ecclesiastical settlement in the North-east of Scotland.

Clancy, Studies on the Book of Deer (Forsyth ed 2008, 371)

In Europe especially, the history of maps is linked indivisibly to the history of the Christian church and to the related rise of the nation state.  (Fleet et al, 2012, 14)

Section 1: Introduction with a note on methodology  

Section 2: The Development of Land-marks  

Section 3: Cardinal Alignments 

Section 4: Symbols for Rivers 

Section 5: Triangulation: the Geometric Symbols 

Section 6: Centres of Power 

Section 7: Summary


Appendix: Symbol meanings and distribution maps              

List of symbols with interpretations 

Diagram 1: The North

Diagram 2: Around Golspie:

Diagram 3: The Dornoch Firth and Loch Ness

Diagram 4: Grantown and Burghead

Diagram 5: Donside

Diagram 6: South of the Mounth