A rare Pictish stone has been uncovered in an Aberdeen river following last month’s spell of dry weather.
The piece, thought to date from the sixth to eighth centuries AD, became partially exposed in the bank of the River Don in Dyce after the water levels dropped in July.
Experts then analysed the artefact and found it to be a class one Pictish symbol stone – an unworked stone with carved symbols, which they described as a triple disc with cross bar, a mirror and a notched rectangle with two internal spirals.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which revealed details of the discovery, said the stone has been reported to the Crown Office’s treasure trove unit and temporarily moved to Edinburgh while discussions take place about where it is to be permanently housed.
HES said the new discovery was one of a number of impressive finds in the north-east of Scotland, which include an early Pictish stone now on display at the Church of St Fergus in Dyce.
They said the meaning of the symbols is debated but it is believed they may represent the names of individuals or groups.
The survey and removal of the stone was co-ordinated by teams from HES, Aberdeenshire Council and the University of Aberdeen.
Contractors worked with a specialist lifting company to remove the stone from the river safely, HES said.
Bruce Mann, local authority archaeologist for Aberdeen and the surrounding shire, said: “The exceptional summer has led to river levels being at their lowest for decades, so there was always a chance that something new would be found. However, I certainly didn’t expect a find as stunning as this.
“Pictish symbol-stones are incredibly rare and this one, with its apparent connection to the river, adds further to the discussions around their meaning and what they were used for.”
The Picts are said to be one of Europe’s “lost people”, chiefly known for their elaborately-decorated memorial stones found throughout eastern Scotland.