Inverurie, the place from where I take the train home, is on the other side of the A96. I somehow had to get across this busy and fast road. I checked my map and found a crossing point with a roundabout marked on it. No way, I thought, I am not tackling a potentially major roundabout! A bit further on there is a minor road crossing over the A96 which looked a much safer bet. As I approached it I started to feel nervous with the volume of traffic passing by. I took a deep breath- all I had to do was wait for a gap in the traffic and ride across. It was not long and I sped over to the safety of the minor road. Before getting on the train I decided to make for the Brandsbutt Symbol Stone, largely because it is the most strangely located Pictish stone that I have come across.
This stone is in an Inverurie suburban housing estate, next to a bus stop. All of the other Pictish stones that I have visited are always in remote countryside, so it was unusual to find a stone so close to the humdrum of modern life. It made it more challenging to imagine the world in which this stone was created. A hatchback with an awful sounding exhaust drove by, a chap with his hood up was blasting heavy metal music into his earphones and a nearby garden had an immense collection of gnomes. The ancient stone is among this. It is badly cracked, as if damaged by an earthquake, but it turns out that it had been deliberately broken up to be used for a dyke and then restored to how we see it today.
The stone features a striking carving of a serpent, its body flowing like a meandering river and a pair of large eyes on its head. He looked a tough character; I could imagine him hunting down some pray. He looked capable of catching a salmon for dinner, unlike some Glaswegian fishermen that I knew.