Mysterious engraving of warrior with ‘pronounced bum’ found on Pictish stone

Archaeologists have discovered a mysterious engraving of a Pictish warrior with a rather cheeky bottom.

The engraving was found in a Pictish stone in Perth’s McDiarmid Park, and depicts a male figure carrying a spear.

While the rock was first discovered back in 2017, scientists from the University of Aberdeen have now brought its engraving to life in 3D images.

The researchers hope this rock, named the Tulloch Stone – as well as other Pictish stones found in Aberdeenshire and Fife – will help to ‘fill the gaps’ in Scotland’s undocumented history.

Professor Gordon Noble, an author of the study, said: “On the Tulloch Stone we can now see that the man is carrying a distinctive door-knob butted spear which we know from previous research was in use from the third to the sixth century.

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“He also has a very distinctive hairstyle, is wearing a helmet and necklace and has a faint line around the left ankle which could suggest footwear or tight leggings.

“In line with the other stones, this is clearly a depiction of a warrior. Its find spot overlooks the coming together of the rivers Tay and Almond, a junction marked by a Roman fort and later a possible Pictish royal centre, suggesting the monolith might have been located in a cemetery of the elite.

“Because the presentation of the figures is standardised across all of the stones, it is likely that it represents a generic sacred image, rather than it being a depiction of someone buried there.”

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While depictions of warriors are common in Anglo-Saxon England, few have previously been found in Scotland, according to the researchers.

Dr Mark Hall, co-author of the study, explained: “In Anglo-Saxon England we have lots of examples of burials with weaponry and the poem Beowulf epitomises the warrior ethos of this period,” he added.

“This has not been evidenced in Scotland in the same way but here through the new Tulloch find and a reconsideration of long-known stones we can see that warrior ideology cast in stone – meaning these martial values were conveyed in a very public way to be visible in the landscape and to invoke supernatural protection.”

The researchers hope the findings will spark further research on other Pictish stones.

Dr Hall added: “This discovery of the Tulloch stone has revealed fresh details allowing the reconsideration of the existing related sculptures, fostering new insights and conclusions that are not possible when only dealing with a single example.”

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