We first saw this more than forty years ago. In those days it stood proud along the main road. Now Forres is bypassed and the stone sits a bit forlorn in a grassy area at the end of a track. It is also enclosed in a large protective case which makes photography difficult. It doesn’t have the same chutzpah factor.
Even so standing nearly 20’ tall it is impressive. It is the tallest surviving cross slab in Scotland dating from 9th/10thC and is thought to be still standing in its original position. The carving has become eroded over the centuries, hence the need for the protective cover.
On the front is a tall Celtic Cross with its shaft and the background covered with interlaced designs. At the bottom are two large figures leaning towards each other, over a smaller figure. In each top corner is a small figure.
On the reverse is a complicated series of battle scenes with about 100 carved figures. At the top is a line of standing warriors holding swords with three rows of mounted horsemen below them. The second panel has more foot soldiers with swords and spears. The third panel depicts the battle scene with rows of headless bodies. At the bottom, the warriors are leaving the battlefield.
It obviously reflects a major event, but opinions are divided as to what and vary from the defeat of the picts by Kenneth MacAlpine to encounters between Norse and Picts. The name is also a 19thC invention with no historical basis.
The sides are also carved.
At night the stone is floodlit. We’ve not seen this but understand it to be quite a sight.
To find the stone, come off the A96 at the eastern end of the Forres by pass and take the B9011 which is the main street through the town. After a very short distance the stone is signed off to the right.