2.3.2 Scholarship before the 1990s

The scholarly recording of Scotland's sculpture was put on a firm footing in the mid-19th century (Stuart 1856) but reached its early apogee with Allen and Anderson's Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (ECMS: Allen and Anderson 1903), the 'bible' of early medieval sculpture studies in Scotland throughout the 20th century (see J N G Ritchie 1997; 1998; Henderson 1993). Subsequently, early medieval carved stones were included in the various county Inventories produced by the RCAHMS throughout the 20th century, culminating in the volumes on Iona (RCAHMS 1982) and South-East Perth (RCAHMS 1994a). Individual new finds were published in a various articles in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which also carried occasional studies of aspects of early medieval sculpture studies (e.g. Curle 1940; 1962; Gordon 1956; Lang 1972). Scholarly analysis of early medieval sculpture in Scotland was dominated by a small number of scholars, including Curle (née Mowbray) (Curle 1940; 1962; Mowbray 1936), Stevenson (1955; 1959; 1971; 1981b), Thomas (1961; 1963; 1967; 1971; 1973; 1992) and Henderson (1959; 1967; 1971; 1978; 1982; 1983; 1986; 1987b) (see Nicoll 1995 for detailed bibliographies covering the period up till the mid 1990s).

In 1985, the 1300th anniversary of the Battle of Nechtanesmere galvanized both scholarly and popular interest in the Picts (and focused attention on the Aberlemno kirkyard stone—Figure 14— which was thought, probably erroneously, to depict the battle). Renewed scholarly interest was reflected in the first interdisciplinary conference on the Picts since the 1953 gathering, 'The Problem of the Picts' (Wainwright 1955), the proceedings of which included important papers about Pictish sculpture (Small 1987). Increasing popular interest led to the foundation in 1988 of the Pictish Arts Society (PAS). PAS membership includes professional scholars and the general public, and through its lecture series, annual conference and occasional publications (including Nicoll 1995) has done much to stimulate interest in and care for the sculpture of the Picts, and early medieval Scotland more generally. Wider recognition of the work done in the 1970s, 80s and 90s in the recording and study of Scotland's early medieval carved stones, was expressed in the following decades through the award of a number of honours. These reflected not only the personal endeavor and achievements of the individuals concerned, but also the worth attached to the resource itself (Anna Ritchie, OBE 1997; Isabel Henderson, OBE 2002; Ian G Scott, MBE 2014; Tom Gray, Honorary Master of the University of Aberdeen 2015).