This photograph shows the Eagle Stone, a class 1 Pictish symbol stone in the village of Strathpeffer. It is a slab of blue gneiss, roughly rectangular, but with the top right hand corner broken off, and stands 2 ft 8 ins (80cm) high by 2 ft (60cm) wide.
On its south-east face, the stone bears the carved symbols of an arch and an eagle. Some people think the arch is a horseshoe, a symbol of good luck, while others think it depicts a rainbow and has associations with Pictish weather magic. The eagle, a symbol of chieftainship, features in the heraldry of several clans. It may be that the stone served as a record of marriage between two important families, or perhaps as a gravestone or territorial marker.
The stone's Gaelic name, 'Clach an Tiompain', has been variously interpreted to mean 'The Turning Stone', 'The Sounding Stone' or 'The Stone of the Knoll'. The stone stands on a small mound, possibly a grave mound, and has several legends attached to it. Some say it marks a medieval battle between the Mackenzies and the MacDonalds of the Isles, while others relate it to a later clan feud between the Mackenzies and the Munros. According to the latter tradition, the Mackenzie Lady of Seaforth lived at the time in a wicker house on the island in Loch Kinellan. A number of Munros are said to have overwhelmed her and to have carried her off, along with her house and its contents. They were overtaken and defeated by the Mackenzies on the spot where the Eagle Stone now stands. The stone may have been set up by the Munros as a memorial to their clansmen, the eagle being part of the Munro crest, but the stone existed long before the battle.
The Eagle Stone also features in a prophecy of Coinneach Odhar, the Brahan Seer, who lived in the area in the 17th century. He foretold: "When the Eagle Stone falls three times, the waters will come up so far that ships will be moored to the stone." The stone is believed to have been moved twice already and is now firmly cemented in place.
This photograph is featured in Then and Now