This is the Pictish symbol known as the double disc & Z-rod as it appears on the back of a cross-slab from Meigle in Perthshire. The stone in question is usually listed in guidebooks as Meigle 7.
What does this strange symbol mean? Here are three theories that have tried to find the answer….
Cummins (1999): ‘It is possible that it represents a sudden loud noise produced by the banging together of two discs: the clashing of cymbals. It is also possible that it represents a flash of lightning between two thunderclouds.’
Jones (1998): ‘Perhaps it represents the two worlds: the here-and-now and the otherworld; life and death.’
Sutherland (1997): ‘Often associated with the Druidic duality of the sun which lights this world by day and the Otherworld by night. The sun’s two faces, benign in summer, malevolent in winter.’
These are just three theories among many. Some no doubt have more merit than others. My own view is the one I voiced in an earlier blog post on another symbol, the crescent & V-rod (title: ‘Brude’s symbol’). I lean tentatively towards the idea that most of these abstract, enigmatic designs represent personal names.
W.A. Cummins, The Picts and their symbols (Stroud, 1999), p.25.
Duncan Jones, A wee guide to the Picts (Edinburgh, 1998), p.21
Elizabeth Sutherland, A guide to the Pictish stones (Edinburgh 1997), p.17.