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Saints, Scrolls And Serpents: Theorising A Pictish Liturgy On The Tarbat Peninsula

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on certain decorative and figural scenes carved on cross-slabs associated with the monastic settlement excavated on the Tarbat peninsula, and proposes that certain iconography and decoration points to the observation of, or at least knowledge of, specific liturgical practices. In turn, this artistic evidence allows for fruitful speculation as to which sect of Christianity the Picts in this area adhered to most closely. The Tarbat peninsula might also have been exposed to a Roman mission originating from Northumbria in the early eighth century. In the Christian literary tradition the serpent had a dual or even triplicate nature. A focus on the various liturgical rites and their traditions of mystagogy can certainly open up new ways of understanding not only the Christian iconography on Pictish cross-slabs, but also the decorative schemes; add to our understanding of Pictish spirituality and the culture of the Picts as a whole.

Keywords: Northumbria; Pictish liturgy; saints; scrolls; serpents; Tarbat peninsula



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