Thursday, 21 August 2014

bod and the wild boar

bod and the wild boar
(Updated July 2017 with a new Boar design - see end of article)

I have been woodcarving and making things for many years, but it was only about ten years ago that I 'discovered' stone carving. I immediately loved it, yet haven't indulged this passion anywhere near as much as I've wanted to.

Recently I've been a tad busy fulfilling commissions and stocking the website, but all the while, filtering into my dreams and subconscious thoughts, have come visions of dusting off my stone carving chisels again, and setting to....

Along came a day off......

Carved stone Pictish Boar
Boar by bod - black limestone with hand carved design based on the Pictish Knocknagael  and Dores Boar Stones from Inverness. ~ 270 x 165 x 20 mm

There is an 'eternity' and timelessness to carving in stone. I imagine this is partly due to the material itself: undoubtedly ancient, apparently immutable, staring back at us with a memory longer than our kind has walked the earth, with stories a plenty, I'm sure....but I suspect it is more than this...

Our greatest mysteries seem to have been expressed in stone, left for us to puzzle over. Stone embodies this sense of 'something else,' something we may have lost....if only we could retrieve it...

Of course this is just our perception. Those ancient craftsmen and women probably expressed themselves in all manner of materials, I just associate stone with them, as it survives the millennia.

This also is not lost on me, it is, I suppose, my reaching for my own kind of eternity, and also a closer link to those who have come before me.

Despite all this, I have the notion that, if I can express in stone, I can express in anything. Carving stone is a metaphor for me, a metaphor for the notion that 'anything is possible.'

I digress....back to my day off.....

Kim Traynor photo Dores Stone Pictish Boar
Dores Pictish Boar Stone Photo By Kim Traynor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I had a broken piece of black limestone that I decided was a perfect size for the design I had in mind, an adapted design based on a Pictish boar carving found in a field at Knocknagael Farm, on the outskirts of Inverness, which was moved in 1991 to the Highland Council's headquarters. The design is also very similar to a stone fragment found at Clune at Dores Inverness, dated from between 500 and 800 AD, which had been reused as a chimney-head.

So, I got out my tools, set out my design, and began....
Carved Boar design in process
Setting out....

The wild Boar was very important in the symbology of the Ancient Britons (Celts or Picts,) and researching this, the various attributes I discovered described by the various 'Symbology' sites cover several qualities: courage, fertility, wildness, stubbornness, fearlessness, strength, masculine power, shapeshifting, abundance, healing, otherworldly gifts....and I could go on. The attributes that began to concern me, however, were the qualities of wildness, fierceness, and stubbornness!

Pictish Boar Carving Process
I begin to appreciate the road ahead...

Very, very quickly, it was obvious that my wild Boar was going to fight me every step of the way in my attempts to birth him. The stone I had selected was the hardest stone I have ever worked. Very hard and very brittle - not a great combination! But, I had started, and, for all the reasons I gave above, I was not going to give up.

Pictish Boar Carving Process
Boar with broken tail

In the end, sore, dusty and weary, I did complete him. He ended up being carved a little deeper after I lost his tail, and I also decided that I would leave a 'rougher' finish than I had originally planned, in order to honour the battle we had had, by leaving some of its marks, (or should that read 'scars!')

Carved stone Pictish Boar

Normally I am very ambivalent when I finish a piece of work. I feel this stems from the amount of time much of my work takes, and the intensity that I bring to bear. I often have to 'turn away' from a piece for a period of time before I can really appreciate it. It is a very love/hate type of relationship.

Carved stone Pictish Boar

With Boar though, I feel different. I have a healthy appreciation for him, and myself. It was hard. Very hard. 

But I saw it through.

I hope you like Boar.

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team
NB: I have deliberately not written much about the symbology and stories of the wild boar, and its importance to the people of these Isles, but it is a fascinating subject. If you would like to pursue it further I hope the sources below provide a good starting point.

Update July 2017

Due to many requests, and a longing to revisit him, Boar has been recreated and is now available in hand-cast bronze or aluminium versions, cast from an original sculpture by bod, and then set into a handcrafted oak plaque: 

Pictish Boar Wall Plaque: in Bronze or Silver
Pictish Boar Wall Plaque: in Bronze or Silver

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Sculptures, Carvings & Artwork
~inspired by history & nature~

Unique Handcrafted Gifts in Wood from Justbod
A wee 'Selection Box'

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Sources and further information

Knocknagael Stone:  
Scotland's Places
Historic Scotland

Pictish Boar Dores, Inverness: 
National Museums Scotland

Pictish Stones and the Picts:
Pictish Stones 

Celtic Boar Symbology:
Celtic Wisdom
Symbol Dictionary
Trees for Life: Mythology and Folklore of the Wild Boar

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