Can You Decode Them?
by Janet Brennan
Picture this: The year is a.d. 610. You are a farmer in Scotland, walking along a path as you search for your lost cow. Suddenly you come upon a large rock standing on end alongside the path. It has three images carved on it. The top picture is a fish, below that is something that looks like a tuning fork lying on its side, and at the bottom is a hand mirror and a double-sided comb. You know what message these three carvings convey.
Now, imagine this: The year is 2004. You are a tourist vacationing in Scotland. As you drive through the northeastern part of the country, you see a tall stone standing upright along the roadside. It has three figures carved on it. The top image is two connected discs with a backwards Z bisecting it, below that is a snake also bisected with a Z, and at the bottom is a hand mirror. You have no idea what these symbols mean.
You decide to search out other similar stones, to try to discern a pattern. But you would need months to see them all, as Scotland has more than 250 of these things, known as Pictish symbol stones. Read the rest of this entry »