Nowadays, specific saints are linked to Christian churches just by name. But in medieval and earlier times actual relics of the saints were very powerful objects. A bone or personal item brought from the saint’s monastery to a church would have been encased in sculpted stone, carved wood or precious metal containers. It was believed that touching such a shrine gave people a specific supporter in heaven. This sculpted stone is part of just such a receptacle – a shrine. But what are the clues?
It’s not the tree of life design that indicates it’s part of a stone shrine.
It’s the plain reverse that reveals all. Looking at the back of the stone, there are tell-tale slots down its sides. They held the side panels of the box-shaped container in place. There would have been another ‘end’ and a top. All would have been highly decorated with Christian motifs. So it is tantalising to think that somewhere in Rosemarkie’s graveyard, in the surrounding gardens, or built into the church or house walls, there will be the other parts of this saint’s shrine.