Pictish Beast

Unknown Freshwater Monster depicted on rock carvings in Scotland.

Physical description: An animal with charac teristics resembling both a swimming elephant and a dolphin. Elongated beak or trunk. The head has a crest that may be a stylized way to show a porpoise spouting. Flippers. Tail has a curled tip.

Distribution: Rodney's Stone, at Dyke, in Moray; Brough of Birsay in the Orkney Islands; the Dunfallandy Stone, in Perth and Kinross; the Maiden Stone, near Pitcaple, Aberdeenshire; Port Elphinstone Henge, near Inverurie, Aberdeenshire; the Rhynie Pict Stones, Aberdeenshire; Aberlemno, Angus.

Significant sightings: The Picts were wild tribes that lived in Scotland during Roman times. They carved about fifty different types of symbols into rough stone and rocky outcrops, many dating from the sixth century and earlier. One of these symbols is the Pictish beast. Possible explanations:

(1) A Dolphin (Family Delphinidae) or Porpoise (Family Phocoenidae), based on the shape of its head and a stylized spout. However, it has legs and a tail without flukes.

(2) A swimming elephant, based on the trunk.

(3) A Celtic Kelpie or Water Horse, suggested by Elizabeth Sutherland. Sources: Elizabeth Sutherland, A Guide to the

Pictish Stones (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 1997); Karl Shuker, Mysteries of Planet Earth (London: Carlton, 1999), pp. 154-157.

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