One of our most famous exhibits is the Wolf Stone from Stittenham, which is near Ardross, just off the Struie Road. It was found in 1890 during repairs to a garden wall at a farmhouse. Another symbol stone was found at the same time, showing the head of a horse or deer. Both stones probably came from one larger stone, but we do not know where the original site was. The wall they were hidden in was built in 1832.
The two stones were donated to Inverness Museum. They can be seen on display on the ground floor, alongside the other Pictish stones in the collection. A replica of the Wolf Stone is also on display for visitors to touch.
The Wolf Stone is a Class I incised symbol stone, probably dating from the 6th century. Symbol stones feature animals or geometric designs but we do not know what the symbols mean, only that they are a form of communication. The wolf appears on only a handful of Pictish stones. Could the wolf represent power, as a top predator? Or could it represent a strong family, being a pack animal?
This particular image is highly regarded for its sense of movement and stylised naturalism. The way the wolf carries its head and tail, its heavy paws and muscular body are expressed in a few simple curving lines.
An Inspiring Wolf
The Wolf Stone has represented the museum’s logo for decades and features on the signage outside the building as well as on merchandise in our shop. It has been used as a source of inspiration for artists, writers and even musicians – Wolfstone, the Celtic rock band, were founded in the Highlands and named themselves after the Ardross wolf!
The museum also owns a silver brooch in the image of the Pictish wolf. It was made in 1987 by Doug Scott, a well-known silversmith from Tain.
To find out more about the Picts, including where to see the stones and other artefacts around the region, visit the Highland Pictish Trail website.
Ardross Wolf Stone accession number: INVMG.0000.0208 donated by anonymous
Ardross Beast accession number: INVMG.0000.0209 donated by anonymous
Wolf brooch accession number: INVMG.1987.177.002 purchased from the artist