Travelling around Aberdeenshire, I’ve been looking out for symbol stones and how they are interpreted in the area. Having started off in January at Crafting Kingdoms, a fantastic exhibition at Aberdeen University’s King’s Museum (37 miles to Rhynie), I was really encouraged and enthusiastic to search further afield and headed out into Aberdeenshire to find Museums and visitor centres. Unfortunately, I had been spoilt by the temporary exhibition at the University, I was sadly disappointed. With such a unique, long and interesting history of people living in this area, I had to really search very widely to find out more about them.
Going by Aberdeenshire Council’s website Huntly’s Brander Museum (9 miles from Rhynie) has staffing issues and is not currently open, Archaeolink (13 miles from Rhynie) and Pictavia (58 miles from Rhynie) were both pre-history parks that finally closed in 2013 and 2014 respectively, all, sadly, have not reopened despite community interest.
The nearest museum to Rhynie, with Pictish information and artefacts on permanent display, was in Elgin (37 miles from Rhynie), across the border into Moray. A brilliant Independent and award winning museum, not without it’s own financial problems, yet a lot of interesting collections and themed sections that kept me busy for ages finding out about what has happened in this area over the centuries. Although they had a great collection of Symbol Stones, their map only referred to places in Moray and stopped at the borders missing out Rhynie just over the hill as well as a host of other sites between Elgin and Aberdeen to the south and Elgin and Orkney in the North.
Going beyond the North East and into the Highlands, there are at least five further Museums with Pictish connections; Tarbat Discovery Centre, Groam House Museum in Rosemarkie Timespan in Helmsdale, Caithness Horizons and the Orkney Museum, Kirkwall. I will update you on what I found in Timespan and Orkney at a later stage, but it sounds like a great trip to do, perhaps one day I’ll get to go on the train and take in the old landscape.
In the meantime, Rhynie is buzzing with anticipation of the archaeologists returning in the Summer and of course this is accompanied by another opportunity to test out Rhynie Woman treats, walks and activities, who needs to go anywhere else to find out about the Picts. If you cant get to Rhynie then Tarbat Discovery Centre have just launched an interesting book which you can find on ebay which has introduced me to what they call the Northern Picts……an interesting read!