Rodney’s Stone is incorrectly believed to depict two fish monsters; a ‘Pictish beast’ or elephant, a double disc and a Z-rod; while the Ogham inscription is thought to be that of a Pictish saint called Ethernan. The location of Rodney’s stone suggests it is a territory marker. It could be that the saint took his name from the place EDDARRNON. The correct reading of the markings describe a coherent whole which is rather more than a disjointed grouping of symbols and motifs.
Although now divergent with P and Q Celtic the Welsh and Gaelic languages can still tell us much. Common placename suffixes in Scotland and Wales respectively are Inver and Aber for the mouth or confluence of a river. Aber is also very common in the North East of Scotland. Rather than a dialectal mutation, some Ps and Qs may be orthography assigned by monks from other parts of Britain using Latin, and later English. P Celtic still resides in the spelling of placenames such as LLanbryde in Moray and the River Ythan in Aberdeenshire, though the pronunciation is nothing like Welsh. The ‘Eddar’ part of the inscription is the etymology of Inbhir in Gaelic or Aber in Welsh. Eadar is a preposition which means between in Gaelic. Avon is an older Celtic root for river; abhainn in modern Gaelic. The location of the stone is between two rivers, the Nairn and the Findhorn. The R could be an article and also could makes AVON a plural in the prepositional case. Therefore, EDDARRNON reads as ‘between the rivers’.
The images are easier to decode. The two figures at the top are clearly fish and certainly not fabulous monsters. The fish are slightly different. Given that the area is still famed for fishing it is likely that both are salmon. The carvings between the fish are berries, seeds and nuts. The heart shape of the two placed together with the centred motifs does certainly invoke the idea of spawning and the cycle of life like the Taoist Yin Yang. Salmon were also a symbol of wisdom for the Insular Celts and their importance can be seen by their prominent position at the top of the stone. The ‘Pictish beast' or elephant is obviously a horse with a stylised plough and a waggon. The notion of ‘double discs’ and 'Z-rods’ and are simply ridiculous.
The plough is clearly seen to be touching the earth at the base of the stone. The images on the slab represent a scene of fishing and agriculture. One of bounty and fertility and the promise of harvest.
Colin Stewart Jones.
more to come...