Sunday, February 5, 2017


Pictish stone,,
public domain.

Pictish stone,, 
public domain.

Every once-in-a-while I find it to be almost irresistible to give in to whimsy. This posting is a prime example of that because I am devoting it to showing a striking resemblance between examples of rock art that cannot possibly be related, from pretty much opposite sides of the world, and probably separated by centuries in time.

Strathmartine Castle Stone,
- public domain.

One side of this resemblance comparison is represented by an animal commonly portrayed in the art of the Picts, and is called the "Pictish Beast. "The Picts were a tribal confederation of peoples who lived in what is today eastern and northern Scotland during the Late Iron Age and Early Medieval periods. They are thought to have been ethnolinguistically Celtic. Where they lived and what their culture was like can be inferred from the geographical distribution of brochs, Brittonic place name elements, and Pictish stones. Picts are attested to in written records from before the Roman conquest of Britain to the 10th century, when they are thought to have merged with the Gails. They lived to the north of the rivers Forth and Clyde.

Pictish petroglyph panel, From Pappas,
Live Science, Jan. 22, 2017

Picts are assumed to have been the descendants of the Caledonii and other tribes that were mentioned by Roman historians or on theworld map of Ptolemy. Pictland, also called Pictavia by some sources, gradually merged with the Gaelic kingdom of Dal Riata to form the Kingdom of Alba (Scotland). Alba then expanded, absorbing the Brittonic kingdom of Strathclyde and Bernician Lothian , and by the 11th century the Pictish identity had been subsumed into the "Scots" amalgamation of peoples." (Wikipedia)

Sea Wolf petroglyph, Nanaimo,
Vancouver Island, British Columbia,
Canada. Photograph Jack and
Esther Faris, 1992.

The other side of this resemblance is represented by the mythical Sea Wolf figure of the First Nations People of Vancouver Island, on the Northwest Coast of North America. One group of these people live in the area of Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island.
The First Nation people of Nanaimo are the Snuneymuxw, a Coastal Salish people. "The Snuneymuxw First Nationis currently located in and around Nanaimo on east-central Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Although the Snuneymuxw now only have a total reserve land base of 266 hectares, divided into small, separated reserves, they once occupied a wide region of south-central Vancouver Island where they lived for more than 5,000 years. Snuneymuxw Territory on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the Fraser River in British Columbia was in the center of Coast Salishterritory." (Wikipedia)
There are a number of the Sea Wolf depictions at the Nanaimo petroglyph site.

Sea Wolf petroglyph, Sproat Lake,
Vancouver Island, British Columbia,
Canada. Photograph Peter Faris, 1995.

The other group of First Nations People that I looked at are the people who lived in the area of Sproat Lake, also on Vancouver Island. "The Kleh-koot-aht people resided around Kleh-koot (Sproat Lake) (means long stretch of level land). Kleh-koot-aht’s area was between Yaaqis (Prairie Farm) and Sproat Falls and there was a seasonal village located on the Sproat River. This village was a great place for fishing and smoking salmon, picking blackberries, hunting deer and picnicking. Also at this place was a longhouse where they performed several potlatches in the winter season." (Wikipedia) There is a large petroglyph panel found at Sproat Lake which also includes the Sea Wolf figure.

Petroglyph, Gabriola Island,
British Columbia, Canada. From
Bentley, 1981, p. 26.

Remember, as I said above, the Sea Wolf cannot possibly be related in any way to the Pictish Beast. Yet the resemblance between the creatures, especially their heads, is marked, and I find it delightful.  Remember: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (William Shakespeare)

NOTE: Photos of the Pictish Beast were found on the internet with a search for "Pictish Beast public domain". If I recovered any photographs that were not public domain I did so inadvertently, and I apologize for their use.


Bentley, Mary and Ted,
1981   Gabriola: Petroglyph Island, Sono Nis Press, Victoria, B.C.

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

Pappas, Stephanie,
2017   Lost Dark Ages Fort Found in Scotland, January 22, 2017, Live Science,
·        Wikipedia

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