Inveravon Pictish Stones

Written by Chris Thornton | 30th of August 2023
Inveravon Pictish Stones

On our way to Ballindalloch Castle, we took a wee detour to visit the Inveravon Pictish Stones. This is an interesting site just off the A95; I had often seen the sign on our way to Aviemore but had never taken the time to stop.

Today, we had all the time in the world, so we stopped to investigate the intriguing Pictish symbol stones sign.

The Picts

The Picts are the native inhabitants of Scotland and, about 1700 years ago, controlled the majority of the country from Fife to Shetland and the northeast to as far west as the Outer Hebrides.

The Romans first coined the title of Pict in 297; they called the people beyond Hadrian's wall "Picti" or "the painted people", perhaps due to tattoos or tribal face paint. Even after the Romans had left some one hundred years later, the name stuck, and the northern people of Scotland were named Picts.

Between the years 500 and 850, the Picts seemed to go through an artistic surge, creating hundreds of carved stones throughout Scotland, four of which exist here at Inveravon. Despite all of these carvings left by the Picts, they are still a very mysterious and enigmatic people.


Taking a right turn off the A95, we pulled down a very tight single-track road. It was a bit of a worrying drive as there was a distinct lack of passing places and blind corners. Luckily we didn't meet any other cars and arrived at a clearing on the right-hand side of the road with plenty of space for parking.

Inveravon Church and Pictish stones car park.
A good sized car park for visiting Inveravon Church.
Inveravon Church and Pictish stones car park alternate view.
An alternative view of the car park.

Inveravon Church

A short walk down the hill will reveal Inveravon Parish Church (sometimes called Inveraven) peeping through the forest. I had assumed the stones were in the actual church or in an outbuilding in the churchyard, but the stones are housed within the north porch of the church. This porch does not lead you inside the church and has been blocked off purely to display the stones to visitors.

Historic Scotland provides an information board on the steps up to the porch.

Pictish Symbol Stones
A glimpse of the church through the tree canopy.
Pictish Symbol Stone
Main view of Inveravon Church while walking from the car park.
Pictish Symbols at Inveravon Church.
The blocked off porch that is home to the Pictish Stones.

Pictish Symbol Stones

Four fascinating Pictish symbol stones are contained within this small but beautifully lit display area, three large stones and a single small one. They are simply named Inveravon 1 through 4.

The stones were not originally in such nice housing and were propped against the church's south wall, exposed to the elements and weathering. Thankfully they were moved to their new home at the present church's old entrance porch in 2011 after the stones were causing damp ingress to the church due to the freeze-thaw cycle.

There is a small donations box to the right.

Medieval Church

There is evidence that a chapel existed at the site here at Inveravon since 600, but it was replaced in 1108 with a new structure. The Pictish symbol stones must have been known to the church builders at this time and of little historical significance to them, as Inveravon 1 was used as a foundation stone, and Inveravon 3 was cut in half as a building block.

The church was again rebuilt in 1806, and Inveravon 1 was again rediscovered.

Inveravon 1

The first stone depicts an eagle, mirror case, mirror and comb. The crude carving on this blue slate stone is considered less refined and may have been done by a beginner or in later Pictish history when the practice of stone carving was less prominent. Nevertheless, it is an impressive stone and the largest on display at Inveravon Church.

This stone was used as part of the foundations of the 1108 church and was broken. We see it here reassembled for our viewing pleasure.

Inveravon 1, one of the four stones from the south wall.
Inveravon 1 showing eagle, mirror case, mirror and comb.

Inveravon 2

The second stone has interesting designs, including:

  • A crescent

  • V-rod

  • Triple disc and bar

  • Mirror and comb

This carving has much more skill involved than the one in the first stone. It is thought the triple disc and bar could be a top-down view of a cauldron, showing how to balance a bar across it.

Inveravon 2
Inveravon 2 showing an intricate circular pattern and semi circle.

Inveravon 3

The smallest Pictish stone here - only half of it remains as it had been resized for use as a building material in the original church. It's sad that this ancient artefact could have been treated with such disregard, but the remaining design is still very beautiful and is a great example of the best Pictish carvings. The smooth flowing lines of the carving resemble a bird-like creature or another beast, but it's hard to know what species. This carving is vastly superior to the one on Inveravon 1.

Inveravon 3 - Variously interpreted as an Elephant or Dolphin
The only surviving half of Inveravon 3 showing a Pictish beast.

Inveravon 4

Stone 4 contains another crescent and V-rod design, similar to stone 2. Below this is there is a Pictish beast with a similar design to stone 3, this time complete without being cut in half... maybe it could be a dolphin?

Inveravon 4 was discovered buried in the churchyard in 1964; it has a much more weathered appearance; it's likely it was part of the original medieval church and exposed to the elements.

Inveravon 4
Inveravon 4.

How old are the Inveravon pictish stones?

They were carved between the years 600 and 800, so they are potentially 1400 years old!

When are the stones on display?

It seems to be most days within the daylight hours; I am unsure if it is closed on Sundays.


Although our visit to Inveravon Pictish stones wasn't long, it was fantastic to be able to see these stones up close without barriers or other tourists blocking our view. Inveravon Pictish Stones are a little hidden gem just off the A95 and well worth 10 minutes of your time if you are interested in Scotland's history in the first millennium.

Other ancient sites exist nearby:

We continued our journey to Ballindalloch Castle as part of my 40th birthday trip around central Scotland.

Inveravon Pictish Stones Location near the River Spey.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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Doug Fraser
8th of November 2022 @ 10:46:42

We visited the Inveravon stones on a November Sunday (yes, display is open!). Very impressive mini-museum in the former entrance porch of the church. The overhead lighting is good and throws the carvings in relief. There is an excellent information board just outside the porch with information on the Picts, as well as on the stones themselves. A "must visit"!

Nancy Lafortine
4th of September 2022 @ 09:57:31

Headed here on my 69 birthday Believe my ancestor John Robertson was baptized in the church 1803