Brodie Castle stands some three and a half miles west of Forres. A short distance beyond the entrance gates to the castle, the drive to it passes the Rodney Stone. This is a Pictish symbol stone which makes an imposing gate guardian for the castle. If you want to view it, make sure you do so on the way in: the exit route from the castle is different and does not pass the stone.
The Rodney Stone stands just under 2 metres high by just over 1 wide and is 13cm thick. Its front or west face carries a beautifully carved cross filled with nice decorative knotwork, while the quadrants carry relatively low relief carvings of intertwined beasts. From the castle drive you see the rear, eastern face of the stone. This carries three large sets of carvings. Uppermost is a very large pair of decorated fish monsters, facing inwards towards one another.
Below the fish monsters is a decorated beast of a design usually referred on Pictish symbol stones as an elephant. It is unclear whether this design was literally intended to depict an elephant when used by Pictish masons, or whether this is simply a description that suited our more recent ancestors who first systematically studied these stones. Either way, this particular example is a rather pretty beast, and about as unlike an elephant as it is possible to imagine.
The bottom of the three carvings is a fairly commonly found symbol, a "double disc and Z-rod", a name that simply describes the pattern. The meaning of these symbols has never been established, but it seems possible that the more common symbols may represent a particular ruling dynasty, like a royal coat of arms in more recent times.
There are two other sets of symbols found on the Rodney Stone which makes it even more interesting. At some point after it was originally carved, or possibly at the same time, the stone was given an inscription in the ancient script known as Ogham: indeed, it carries the longest Ogham inscription ever found in Pictland. This can be seen as a series of faint diagonal lines carved on the outer surround of the stone. Part of it is visible in the image below right. The script is badly weathered, but is thought to contain the personal name "Eddarrnonn".
The Rodney Stone was discovered in the old churchyard in the nearby village of Dyke in 1781, having at some point in the 1600s been reused as a grave slab commemorating "AC" and "KD". In 1782 it was erected in the village and named "The Rodney Stone" to celebrate the victory of Admiral Rodney over the French fleet in the West Indies earlier that year, and the name stuck.
It's a shame really: "The Eddarrnonn Stone" would have a much more authentic ring to it. The stone was repositioned next to the drive of Brodie Castle in the 1830s.
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Grid Ref: NH 954 577