In the News….

P&J coverageP&J 08.09.15


A student at Gray’s School of Art has attempted to get under the skin of one of the country’s most enigmatic figures as part of her Masters project.

Anne Murray (Photo Credit: Ray Smith)Anne Murray, a creative practitioner about to finish an MFAContextualised Practice degree at Gray’s, has created a 21st century persona, complete with blog, Twitter account and film, for Rhynie Man – the name bestowed on a six-foot tall Pictish stone carving of a warrior discovered in the Aberdeenshire village in 1978.

The project, which was launched a year ago, has seen Anne working to raise awareness of Rhynie Man – which stands in the Aberdeenshire Council headquarters at Woodhill House in Aberdeen – among the local community via social media channels and engagement with local schoolchildren on various arts projects.

She has also created a map of the area which highlights areas of historical significance and set out on a ‘pilgrimage’ tracing a route from Aberdeen to Rhynie as a way of marking the stone’s spiritual return to the village.

An archaeological dig is currently on-going in Rhynie as part of the bid to discover more about the stone’s origins and the significance of the site.

Anne said: “We know very little about the Picts and it appears they used other means of communication such as their enigmatic symbol stones. Archaeologists are at an early stage of learning about them and this creates the opportunity for artists to be creative and playful.

Rhynie Man“Working with the artist collective Rhynie Woman and Aberdeenshire Council, I first set out to create a stronger presence for Rhynie Man in the community and help create awareness of the stone and its significance.

“This took the form of a blog, written in the first person by Rhynie Man, as well as a Twitter account. I also spent a day with the local school children creating Valentine’s cards and poetry for Rhynie Man which were then hand delivered to him at Woodhill House.”

She added: “The route that I am walking as part of Rhynie Man’s spiritual journey home takes in a number of other standing stones with carved symbols.

“Using the images on these stones, I have created a story about Rhynie Man’s journey home featuring six of the symbols and also created laser etched ‘alms’ to give out along the route to passers-by, as was the tradition of pilgrims.”

A stop motion film – ‘Rhynie Man: The Movie’ – created by Anne to tell the story of the stone was screened in the village on August 31, which posed an open question to the community.

“It asks them what they want to happen to Rhynie Man,” Anne explained. “It is a way of opening up that conversation and the project up until this point has really been laying the groundwork for that debate. This is just the beginning of what will be an on-going project. ”

Anne’s work is currently on display at Gray’s School of Art as part of the ‘C³: Collaborative Contextual Conversations’ exhibition showcasing a range of work by current full and part time Masters students. The show runs until Friday, September 11.

“I have set up the space so that visitors are effectively entering Rhynie Man’s enclosure, as the man himself,” Anne said. “As you come into the space, there is a full sized vinyl cut out on the floor of Rhynie Man which is his shadow being thrown as he comes into the room, then people must trace his route home from Aberdeen to Rhynie.”

On display as part of the exhibition are a number of objects linked to the project, including a hand carved staff, the laser etched alms and the stop motion film.

Looking back at the Masters course, Anne said: “It has been hard work, no one can deny that. I have enjoyed being challenged and reflecting on my own practice and seeing how my art fits into the world – it has been a really, really useful experience.”

Release by
Jenny Rush Communications Officer | Design and Technology

In the News….

Visit to the dig site and some (potentially) very exciting news!!!!

A flying visit to the dig site today to introduce some University Lecturers to the Art of Archaeology and Rhynie.  The tour took in the proposed cycle route between Aberdeen and Rhynie visiting a few of the Pictish Symbol Stone sites on the way.

The Rhynie Man way - Full route

Thankfully it was lovely weather and we arrived to see Rhynie Woman Daisy picking Yarrow to put on top of the now famous pictish pizzas.  The site was easily spotted with the great signage and flags.

The approach from the north
The approach from the north

We found Rhynie Woman Debbi and Rachel busy preparing dough and the Pizza Oven. Whilst the kettle was whistling and the oven getting up to temperature we had time to have a quick guided tour with the archaeologists.

Rhynie Woman Hayley’s lovely photos taken at the weekend of the entrance to our outstanding pop up museum, cafe and dig site
Come and visit just follow the Rhynie Man and Woman signs – Hayley Keane Photography

We met with DrGN and he introduced us to the background and context of the site and the series of digs that have been taking place in Rhynie over the past 5 years.  As we started to smell the aroma of pictish pizza there was a lot of activity around the dig site and we took a closer look!


Now the archaeologists tell us that this amount of stones is VERY unusual on this site, there are signs of a fire and something possibly being removed from this socket….now what could that be?  Archaeologists don’t want to speculate but they can’t help wonder if the socket held up something heavy, large and potentially kite shaped.  I wonder what that could be.


I recognise those feet!!!!!


and that handsome face!  No it’s not Fred, but Me!  who’d have thought.  Well it is important to remember we don’t know for certain, and I’m keeping quiet on the matter, but I’m sure the archaeologists will be measuring and calculating things over the next few days with a view to establishing whether this could be the socket hole of Rhynie Man.  Wouldn’t that be amazing!!!!


There were some more interesting behaviours and use of material culture being demonstrated on site today.  I’ve observed a large increase in this kind of behaviour over recent years; the raised arm, the heads inclined towards each other, the cheesy grins and after the event the discussion of whether it is tweetable or suitable for facebook.  On this occasion it was a definite positive reaction.  No doubt the image will be found online and around the world quite soon on a computer near you.  Here is recorded an image of the ‘selfie’ as the event is called.  I would recommend further study of this behaviour.

Visit to the dig site and some (potentially) very exciting news!!!!

Quick update more to follow

Further updates will arrive over the next few days, but from what I saw today there are some really exciting finds starting to emerge including a stone that looks like it was used to polish leather as well as potentially other crucible and amphora shards.  The archaeologists have busy on the site and there seems to be even more flags.  The pop up pictish cafe is now open for visitors until next Saturday, so pop along between 10 and 5pm every day with tours at 2pm.

Quick update more to follow

Welcome home Rhynie Man – The Rhynie Gala

This weekend, although wet and cold, was the annual Rhynie Gala.  Rhynie Man put in an appearance and so did the talented people of Rhynie.  Here are some behind the scenes photos of making the mementos for #Rhynie15 big dig starting this week and a few photos from the event.

I’ve been ably assisted by Anne and Rachel this week to make some lovely mementos which will be on sale at the Rhynie Gala and Open Days.  Rachel is a soon to be fourth year Anthropology student at the University of Aberdeen.  Apparently students are stereotyped as being lazy and unmotivated, well not this one!  Over the past few months, amongst other things, she has been volunteering with Rhynie Woman and me over the summer and is interested in how a community’s landscape can influence cultural activities.  I think she’s come to a very good place to use as a case study and Anne and Rhynie Woman appreciate all her help and enthusiasm.

Lovely day although it was very wet, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the hill climb and the other activities around the Market Stance.

There are still a number of events happening with the dig over the next few weeks, keep up to date with the event listings here.

Welcome home Rhynie Man – The Rhynie Gala

Planning for the Gala

It has been a busy couple of days in one way or another.  But this afternoon was beautifully warm and sunny and Rhynie was at its best.  Hopefully it will be like this a week on Saturday (15th August) when we welcome the archaeologists to Rhynie at the Rhynie Gala.  Exciting discussions were taking place regarding face painting, story telling, camping, selfie opportunities, pizza ovens, foraging, routes from Aberdeen and Rhynie, walking and a chance to find out about Rhynie Man and Rhynie Woman!

Looking forward to meeting you all, who’s coming along?

A pressie for Rhynie Woman, do you think she'll like it?
A pressie for Rhynie Woman, do you think she’ll like it?
Planning for the Gala

So where is Rhynie?

I have talked at some length about Rhynie, but do you know where it is?  Would you like to visit and stay a while?  Why don’t you come along to one of the digs; for a day trip to the gala (15th August 2015) or stay a little while longer?  In more recent times, Rhynie was an important trading village, at one point it was known for the best biscuits in the whole of Aberdeenshire (so said a friend’s mum), had three butchers and a dress shop.  It currently has a population of 454, a primary school, post office and shop and medical centre with a whole host of clubs and services.  For more information have a look at Rhynie’s local website and Facebook page.  A place would not be a place without a map so here is one, and of course I’m an important feature!

Feel free to download the map.  The map was funded by Heritage Lottery Funding and produced by Anne Murray for Rhynie Woman.

Rhynie Map for blog

So where is Rhynie?

I’ve been on the Telly don’t you know!

I’m not boasting when I say I’m quite media savvy not to mention photogenic!  I’ve been in a few articles, books, newspapers and on television in my time.  I like to think Madonna models herself on me, rebranding herself each time a new song or genre develops.  I’ve been described as a warrior, a pilgrim, Rhynie Number 7, a king, a slaughterman, just to name a few and I’m just going to keep you guessing, it’s much more fun that way.canmoreAbove is a link to Canmore’s swish new website entry, it’s all very serious and factual, great if you are a historian, archaeologist, visitor of stones but there is no mention of nettle pesto and roasted beetroot on their site to get the taste buds watering.Rhynie man aberdeenshire monument recordAberdeenshire Council also has a record of my good self including some brilliant map overlays and all the amazing books I’ve featured in over the years.  They are the chaps to contact if you find any artefacts Pictish or not. For more information check out their website or email PictsThe University of Aberdeen also has a keen interest in all things Northern Picts, under the all seeing eye of Dr Gordon Nobel.  Hopefully the archaeologists will reveal some more interesting things about me in the Summer.  They’ll be digging where I was found and further in the same field.  Just look out for them in mid August to early September.

The digging efforts should mean that even more people will get the chance to see my good looks when they present papers and workshops at conferences over the Winter and Spring. If you’d like to take part in the digs get in touch with  I’m reliably informed that Rhynie Woman treats will also make an appearance at some point as well.


Canmore and Aberdeenshire Council’s Sites and Monument Record are the main sources of information and starting points for research and academic dialogue. There are a whole host of other websites and blogs that write about me (some more accurate than others). Just search under my various descriptions and you’ll see.  A good starting point is Historic Scotland’s micro site Pictish Stones, which has links to some amazing laser scans of some other pictish stones.

If you’re interested in creative things and want to see how others have been inspired you can find out more at the following facebook pages.

Rhynie Woma

Rhynie Woman are by far my biggest fans, they want me back in Rhynie. They are an artists collective that aims to enhance their community by raising awareness of their landscape, history, and people through food and celebration.  I’m up for any kind of food and celebration, especially a Tap O’ Noth bun and some elderflower cordial!

rhynie wifie facebook

Unlike Rhynie Woman, Rhynie Wifies are another matter completely.  To cut a long story short, I seem to have been married to all four of them at some point and must have upset them somehow, I can’t imagine why.  I met them a good few years ago, they haven’t aged well and we won’t mention the nagging, the wee herbal night caps, the hair dyeing, speaking in tongues (really unnerving) and the fleas!

I have been the inspiration for batik painting, poetry, souvenirs, t shirts and towels, sweeties, cookies, Scots fiddle music (thanks to Paul Anderson) and stories.  Have you been inspired to create something about me?  I’d love to hear from you.

I’ve been on the Telly don’t you know!