To mark our selection as a Finalist in the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015 we’re embarking on a unique and ambitious tour of the country – the Dodo Roadshow.
Beginning at Land’s End on 8 June and concluding in John O’Groats one week later, the famous Oxford Dodo will visit more than 20 museums and galleries along the way. At each stop the Dodo will ‘interview’ one of the venue’s star objects.
Perth Museum and Art Gallery: St Madoes Stone
So, tell me about yourself – who are you and where do you come from?
I am a Pictish cross slab in very good condition, considering my age. For centuries I took pride of place in the kirkyard of St Madoes Parish Church, six miles east of Perth in the Tay Valley.
What is it that makes you so special?
I am so special because my embellishments are of both Pictish and Celtic origin reflecting my place in the region, which was ‘the cradle of Scotland’. My front face shows a Celtic cross with interlace and knot work patterns similar to those seen in the Book of Kells or Lindisfarne gospels. Above the beautiful cross I have leaping lions and on each side the cross is guarded by Pictish hunting dogs. On my reverse side there are three cloaked and hooded Pictish horse riders above three of the enigmatic Pictish symbols known today as crescent and v rod, a double disc and a z rod. Don’t ask me what they mean, I knew once but I have now forgotten.
Who looks after you in this place?
In Perth Museum and Art Gallery I come under the curatorship of Mark Hall along with all the other archaeological objects in the museum. On a day to day basis my surroundings are preened and pimped by the wonderful front of house team who polish the large mirror which shows off my Pictish side to make sure I look my best in photographs, and they tell my story as a star object to the visitors to the museum.
Do you remember life before the museum?
Before I came to the museum I stood in the churchyard of St Madoes Church. After many centuries I fell over but remained in the same place. In the 19th century I was raised again and didn’t come to the museum until the 1990s when I was given pride of place in the entrance hall.
What does the future hold for you?
I cannot see far into the future but I know that my place is secure (literally) within the entrance hall. I’m too big and too popular to move easily but it could be that the display around me may change.