The Maiden Stone
The beautiful pink granite Maiden Stone stands near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. It is an 8th century Pictish stone. On one side it bears designs favoured by the Picts, such as the comb and mirror, the mysterious Pictish Beast (Dolphin? Elephant? Mermaid? Nobody knows…) and a centaur at the top.
On the other side there is a very worn Celtic Cross, indicating that this may have been an early Christian preaching site.
Maiden Stone Folklore
There’s a rather wonderful tale attached to the stone.
A maid from Durno was baking a batch of bannocks one morning when a handsome man appeared at her door. He bet her that he could build a road up the hill of Bennachie before she could finish baking the bannocks. If he won, she had to marry him. Unfortunately, the man was actually the devil and he built the road with great speed. The maid ran. He chased after. Just as he caught up to her, she prayed to be turned to stone rather than have to wed him. The notch on the stone is where the devil grabbed her shoulder as she transformed.
The Statue of Persephone
A couple of hundred yards to the west of the Maiden Stone, in the woods, is a statue of Persephone. She was carved from 8.5 tonnes of millstone grit in 1961 by the artist Shaun Crampton, and her story echoes that of the Maiden Stone. In the Greek myth, Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the harvest, was carried off to the underworld by Hades to become his wife. Zeus decreed that she should be released as long as she had not eaten anything in the underworld. But, poor quine, she had consumed some pomegranate seeds. So she only got to return for six months of the year, the six months of growth and harvest.
The statue holds some pomegranate seeds in one hand, and a mirror like the one on the Maiden Stone in the other.
On the day I visited, someone had left a pomegranate at her feet.
And, like the Maiden Stone, the back of the statue is worth viewing too.
My Books, set mostly in Aberdeenshire
The latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, is now out in both kindle and paperback. It features Bennachie, Romans, Celts, romance, a neurodivergent main character and the Battle of Mons Graupius. Out now!
“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society
Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations, a handsome Laird, an ancient stone circle and a love story.
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.
Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide
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25 Replies to “The Maiden Stone and Persephone”
I remember the maiden stone very well. It was one of my first experiences in working with Pictish.
It’s such a beautiful example of Pictish art.
I always thought so.
So interesting. You are preparing us so well to read your new book. I am looking forward to it.
Thank you so much 🙂 I hope you enjoy it.
Very interesting! I’ll have to try one of your books soon 🙂
I hope you enjoy them, if you do read them 🙂
Fascinating setting and tales—but as usual with myths, the women end badly and there’s no consequence for the men’s behaviour. The Salish First Nation peoples here call their bread bannock. There obviously must be a Scottish connection.
So true about the devilish men. And fascinating about the Salish bannocks!
Fascinating, Ailish. Your country has SO much history!
We are rather seeped in it!
I grew up in the shadow of Bennachie and spent my summers working at the posh hotel not far from the Maiden Stone. We lived in a cottage in the grounds of the hotel so much walking cycling was done over the summer on days off. I passed the Maiden Stone many times but only now am finding out the story behind it. Thanks very much.
What a lovely place to grow up 🙂
More places to add to my bucket list!
That is wonderful… look forward to reading the new book. I would like to post one of my texts on your page, but am too much of a numpty to do it.. can you tell me how?
In the comments section of the post at https://ailishsinclair.com/2022/08/share-your-books-and-writing-with-me/ you can share anything you like 🙂
Fascinating sculptures. You’ve given such an artistic description and interpretation of their historic significance. Well done, Ailish.
Thank you 🙂
This place is definitely going on my bucket list! Scotland has such a vast history.
We do. Lots to see 🙂
I love myth stories, so thank you for sharing these.
Glad you enjoyed them.