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Tarbat Discovery Centre Pictish Local Heritage Museum & Gift Shop

The Picts were made up of tribes who spoke a Celtic language and lived in eastern Scotland during the 3rd to 9th centuries. They are believed to be descended from native peoples of Scotland. The Picts had a prehistoric religion and were later converted to Christianity. Named the Picti (Painted People) by the Romans, we do not know what the Picts called themselves!


Our site stands on the Tarbat peninsula. 'Tarbat' comes from the Gaelic word tairbeart, 'carry across', used to indicate a place where boats are taken across land. Richly ornamented Pictish cross-slabs stood at the edges of the peninsula, at Hilton of Cadboll, Shandwick and Nigg and their remains can be seen at the places marked on the map. It is likely that these stones marked the edges of the monastic estate centred here at Portmahomack.


Together these cross-slabs are among the finest artistic achievements of 8th-century Europe.

Follow the Pictish Trail signs, see the stones and then find all about the Picts at the Tarbat Discovery Centre.


The Pictish Trail...who were the Picts?

Museum and Visitor Centre

Nigg cross-slab

Shandwick Stone

Hilton-of-Cadboll Stone

Tarbat Discovery Centre

Number 3

Number 2

Number 1

Map Key

Drive down to Balintore, follow the coast road and travel north for about ½ a mile and you can see the original base of the stone at the Seaboard Memorial Hall.


Continue on through the small village of Hilton-of-Cadboll as far as you can go.  Follow the signs and you can visit our magnificent replica at the site of the medieval chapel.

Hilton-of-Cadboll Stone

The original stone is in the National Museum in Edinburgh, but we have a magnificent replica which was carved by local sculptor Barry Grove adjacent to the original site.  This means that you can see the stone as the local population would have seen it over 800 years ago.


Drive down to Balintore, follow the coast road and travel north for about ½ a mile and you can see the original base of the stone at the Seaboard Memorial Hall.


Continue on north through the small village of Hilton-of-Cadboll as far as you can go.  Follow the signs and you can visit our magnificent replica at the site of the medieval chapel.

Shandwick Stone

Clach a’Charridh (The Shandwick Stone) means ‘Stone of the Grave Plots’ and was named thus after the area was used as a burial ground during the 1832 cholera epidemic.  The cross slab has stood majesticaly overlooking the Moray Firth for over 1,000 years. It is now encased in glass for protection against the elements.


From Balintore drive south along the coast road through Shandwick and you will see the stone in a field adjacent to the road just outside Shandwick. Parking is in the lay-by next to the stone.

Nigg Stone

The Nigg Stone is displayed inside Nigg Old Church.


Admired and studied by scholars all over the world, its ornamental cross resembles a manuscript page. The fantastic intricacy of the carving, the whirlpools of spirals, and the heaped up knot of snakes, with tails and tongues endlessly intertwining, is only paralleled in the illuminations of the great Gospel-Book of Kells.


The carvings include a unique illustration of a miracle, the first monks, Paul and Anthony, receiving bread in the desert from a raven sent by God: and David, King and Psalmist, saving a sheep from a lion, his harp beside his shoulder.