Carvings on the Stones – Mithraic and other contexts
Having made the linkage between the Pictish Symbol Stones (sometimes called Pictish Standing Stones) and the Mysteries of Mithras, a significant task has been to research, investigate, record, categorise and analyse all the carvings. Two groupings resulted – those which portray a Mithraic meaning and those which are Non-Mithraic Objects.
The consistent feature of the carvings that have been discovered to have a Mithraic connection is that they do not have an independent meaning in themselves but can be regarded as representing or standing for something else. They need interpretation – this is not unusual for religious iconography. An added complication in decoding the Symbols is that they have been allocated names that are purely descriptive of their shapes. For example, as will be clear in “Mithraic Symbols - Identified and Decoded”, the most numerous carving is the so-called V-Rod and Crescent – an apt description for what the carving appears to be but not putting it into any type of context. Arguably helpful at the time when these names were given but making the task of decoding more difficult due to this popularly accepted and generally unchallenged labelling.
The approach used was in five stages (the first three are in adjacent links):-
Ø Overview. Investigating where else there might be designs similar to those on the Pictish Symbol Stones. The result is uniqueness.
Ø Categorising the Carvings – Some Structure. Creating a structure for sorting and recording the researched material gave order and standard terminology.
Ø Symbol Stone Objects – Numerical Analyses. Taking all the data and analysing it by object and category of object. The results are in tables.
Mithraic Symbols - Identified and Decoded. Looking at every object, identifying Mithraic symbolism, describing it and then decoding the designs in the context of Mithraic meanings. The web page is “stand alone” and is a key output from the Pictish-Mithraism Discovery. The more numerous objects were drawn using modern methods and are recorded in Appendix A.
Non-Mithraic Objects – Identified and Recorded. Including this introduction with the web page on “Changes in Beliefs” is appropriate as many of the carvings are generally pertinent to Christianity or other prospectively non-Christian religious beliefs. Also included are many objects such as people, animals, fish, birds, and plants which may (or may not) have some religious significance.