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The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in today's eastern and northern Scotland. There are records of the Picts from before the Roman conquest of Britain until the 10th century, when they merged with the Scots, who originated from Ireland. They spoke an extinct Pictish language. It is assumed that they were the descendants of the Caledonii and other tribes named by Roman historians. Pictland, also known as Pictavia, gradually merged with the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata to form the Kingdom of Alba (Scotland as we know it today).
The Groam House Pictish Museum is situated 15 miles north east of Inverness in the Black Isle seaside village of Rosemarkie, a short drive from Inverness. The museum is an outstanding resource on information on the Picts, a centre for Ross and Cromarty area. The unique display is focused on 15 carved Pictish stones. All the stones originated in Rosemarkie, a site that yielded many Pictish finds, some dating back to the 8th century AD, when it was an important centre of early Christianity.
The magnificent Rosemarkie cross-slab, decorated with enigmatic Pictish symbols, is the main item in the collection along with many other fascinating items.
The film 'The Picts in Ross-Shire' is well worth seeing as it sets the scene of who the Picts were and the part they played in Scotland's early history. You can then leisurely view the stones and displays, as well as browse through the comprehensive collection of photographs of the Pictish stones in Scotland.
The Groam House Museum welcomes children offering a range of activities that include making rubbings of Pictish symbols, together with the opportunity to play a reconstructed Pictish harp.
An archive of local historic photographs is available, as well as local oral history material/projects in the museum.
Another item that we are sure you will find fascinating are the two videos of the Brahan Seer, the famous Highland prophet, who foretold many significant events that took place in the Highlands, some of which you may well have visited during your holiday.
The George Bain Collection
The George Bain Collection is assuming an ever greater importance at the museum - Bain (1881 - 1968) is often referred to as the Father of Modern Celtic Design.
A trained artist, he devoted much of his life to the study of the techniques used by the ancients to produce their intricate mathematical designs. These designs appear on the Pictish stones of eastern Scotland, the highly sophisticated metalwork and jewellery from Britain and Ireland and the early illuminated manuscripts which include the Books of Durrow and Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels.
It has been said that he 'finally unravelled the Celtic Knot'. His family held a considerable archive of his work, letters etc. and most generously decided, after a Groam House exhibition in 1997, to donate the archive to the museum where it could be preserved and be accessible in the context of outstanding examples of the Pictish designs that had helped to inspire him.
Unfortunately the museum does not have physical space in which to have a permanent display of Bain's work and so uses the museum's annual exhibitions and touring/external exhibitions to illustrate his work.
The Groam House Museum opening hours are 18 April - 31 October: Monday - Friday 11.00am - 4.30pm, Saturday & Sunday 2.00pm - 4.30pm. 1 November - 31 December: Closed. Tel:- 01381 620961 or 01463 811883