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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cursing Stone found on Scottish island

What, you may ask, is a Cursing Stone?

According to Katherine Forsyth, an expert in the history and culture of early Celtic-speaking peoples, based at the University of Glasgow, it was a device (or mnemonic?) used by pilgrims.

"Traditionally, the pilgrim would recite a prayer while turning the stone clockwise, wearing a depression or hole in the stone underneath."

All the others have been found in Ireland, but now one has been uncovered in a Scottish graveyard. The BBC reports that it was discovered by chance on the Isle of Canna. 

And, according to the experts, it is Scotland's first known example of a bullaun "cursing stone".

Dating from about 800 AD, the stones are associated with early Christian crosses - of which there is one on the isle.  About 25 cm in diameter, and engraved with an early Christian cross, it fitted exactly into a worn hole in a large rectanguar stone that is at the base of the Canna cross.

It was found in an old graveyard by a National Trust for Scotland (NTS) farm manager.

NTS manager of Canna, Stewart Connor, said the importance of the stone became clear after he was notified of the discovery.

He said: "We knew of the importance of bullaun stones and that it could be a really significant find.

"Our head of archaeology confirmed a possible link to the stone at the cross and I was so excited that I went back out at 9pm that night to check whether it fitted the stone with the hole and it did."

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