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….

Busy day on the dig site – Cattle Jaws and Mini Diggers


Another couple of busy days on the dig site. Most interesting for me, the great excitement when a Cattle jaw was found in the terminal/stone socket.  Once again the wooden Rhynie Man Lookie-likie came out and prove to be a very good likeness. Thank you to the @NorthernPicts for the photo – have a look out for them on Twitter and Facebook for more updates and follow the #REAP blog here.


The number of diggers more than doubled today with the primary school’s annual visit to the dig site.  The children were met with a huge container full of spoil to sift through and find lots of interesting things.  They were also interviewed by Fiona Stalker, radio presenter from BBC Radio Scotland – have a look out for the photos on the Northern Picts facebook page, here’s a sneak peek of one of our young at heart local volunteers getting involved.


Listen out tomorrow on BBC Radio Scotland “Out For The Weekend” Friday August 28th 2-4pm for more information about our open day on Saturday 29th August 2015 at 10 – 4pm.

Keep up to date with all the activities and events on Saturday by following the Rhynie Woman Facebook Page and twitter @therhynieman  Hope to see you there!

Busy day on the dig site – Cattle Jaws and Mini Diggers

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

Oh Boy Oh Boy!!!! we’ve hit the headlines

The dig in Rhynie is gathering momentum and Dr GN and his team of intrepid archaeologists and volunteers have been clearing the site around where I was found.  The media is just starting to pick up early promising indications that there are interesting features to be found and as they work their way through victorian coins and pottery there are more things to be found.

Photo thanks to Bruce Mann
Photo thanks to Bruce Mann

One thing they would like to find out is where I was situated!!! My bolt hole, if you like.  keep all your fingers and toes crossed that they find it and I can finally get an idea of where my cold toes were placed in the warm Rhynie soil.

For further information follow the REAP blog which gives you a day by day breakdown of the events on site.

Oh Boy Oh Boy!!!! we’ve hit the headlines

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

The Rhynie Man Way – Part One – Woodhill House to Dyce“>


TIME: Approx 3 Hours

Symbols handed out to: George (wolf), Iain (snake) and Annie (pictish beast)

Key features: Geology of the river, topography of North Aberdeen, industrial heritage including railways, waterways, roadways, factories and ongoing transformation of land.

Want to find out more about: the Marching Stones, the loupin’ Stane, Industrial heritage, Dyce Community Garden and Persley’s hidden garden.

Observations: Anne’s journey started from Woodhill House, North Anderson Drive, Aberdeen.  As you can see it’s not until you start walking around that you realise that there are hills and if somewhere is called Hilton it is usually for a reason.  The road names showing glimpses of what existed before estates and businesses moved in; OldCroft and Castleton perhaps indicating what was demolished to make way for the new community.  As she descended North Anderson drive she reported that she could see, in the distance, the aircraft landing in Dyce, on a short plateau at Kirkhill, North West of Aberdeen.


The area of Stockethill is an established community about a couple of miles north of the city centre of Aberdeen.  Most buildings were established in late 1940s as post war housing.  The area houses the region’s main hospital complex and the Council Buildings of Aberdeenshire Council.  A quarter of the population are over the age of 65 and a third under 35.  People were happy to chat as she walked past and the smell of cut grass and hedges being trimmed filled the air, allowing her the potential to forget the main A96 running beside her.

March Stones

It’s great to see stones still being used today, there is still evidence of them in the landscape. When walking through Woodside and Hilton keep an eye out for the March Stones of Aberdeen.  Sixty seven stones placed around the perimeter of Aberdeen after Robert the Bruce granted Aberdeen various rights to lands around the city.  On this route you will come across three or four of them; 53, 52, 51 and 49.  Watch out they are quite sneeky and could be mistaken for mile markers or may be hidden or flat on the ground. There are a couple of trail maps available from the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums website look for the Bridge of Don Trails and March Stones.

When the route crossed Great Northern Road, apparently it is like stepping back in time. You move away from the main road and busyness of the main routes through Aberdeen down into the valley of the River Don to a quiet tranquil and interesting landscape of industrial heritage.  I’m sure that it wouldn’t have been like that in the 19th Century, there would have been the lint mills, paper, calico, bleaching, kids running around, wheels turning, a busy waterway, bells, clunking of machines and people going to and from work.


But now it is a quiet place to walk the dog and imagine how the role of the River Don and its fortune over the centuries has changed since the Picts travelled through the area.


The river walk ends at the Persley Bridge, what now is called Persley Castle (currently used by a nursing home) where there used to be what some called the barracks or if they knew the history a children’s home (which used to house children who were the sweat shop-labour in a calico-printing business nearby), there is also what looks like a ruined church.  The memorial to those who have fallen whilst working in industry, starkly reminds you of sacrifices that have been made over hundreds of years for people of the 21st Century to have the things they have now.  The gardens are beautifully looked after but it wasn’t possible to find out more infomation about its history or who looks after it now.


Where the route moves onto the roadside, look out for the sign post at the roundabout and follow it into what is an area in transition.  The route takes you through Mugiemoss, an area that for over 200 years was filled with the sounds and smells of a paper mill and later chicken, milk and cheese processing.  The area is in the process of being transformed from an area of production to one of consumption.  Hundreds of houses, still being built, have been sold already.  A strange concept to me as a pict; I find it difficult to understand what the purpose is?  houses with no jobs seems to be strange and disconnected.  You can’t even see or get to the river anymore.  I’d give it a ‘watching brief’ as the archaeologists say.

Arriving in Dyce the signage is quite clear, there is a choice either to follow the Formartine and Buchan way, which used to be the railway lines north to the coast, or follow the route towards the river again and the Riverside park.  Both routes meet up where the main road north crosses the River Don and where the next update will start.

Anne’s feet are holding up and I’m looking forward to updates from the rest of the journey.

The Rhynie Man Way – Part One – Woodhill House to Dyce

The journey home!

As you may know I live in Woodhill House in Aberdeen, and while I would love to visit my friends in Rhynie, it is not possible at the moment.  Well I’ve been trying to think of routes and things I would like to see on my way home and have come up with a plan.  Much as I would like to go home, there is the small matter of being a weighty stone, so Im going to send Anne. She’s small, but i’m sure she’ll manage, it’s only about 50km!

Having had a good look at your maps, there are still some symbol stones out there, so Anne and I plotted them out on the map and most of them are where I remember, mostly along the River Don.  Over the next few days Anne will walk between Aberdeen and Rhynie, visiting all the stones and then reporting back on what she finds.

Wish her well, and if you see a wee walker with her stick and pink trainers give her a wave, she’s got a bit of walking to do!

Route from aberdeen to Rhynie
Route from aberdeen to Rhynie
The journey home!