Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
The figure represented here is, under one form or another, extremely common amongst the sculptured stones in Scotland. Four varieties may be seen in plate 48 of Col. Forbes Leslie's Early Races of Scotland. In plate 49 it is associated with a serpent, apparently the cobra. The design is spoken of as "the spectacle ornament," and it is very commonly associated with another figure closely resembling the letter Z. It is very natural for the inquirer to associate the twin circles with the sun and earth, or the sun common amongst the sculptured stones in Scotland. Four varieties may be seen in plate 48 of sun and moon.
On one Scottish monument the circles represent wheels, and they probably indicate the solar chariot. As yet I have only been able to meet with the Z and "spectacle ornament" once out of Scotland; it is figured on apparently a Gnostic gem (The Gnostics and their Remains
, by C. W. King, London, 1864, plate ii., fig. 5). In that we see in a serpent cartouche two Z figures, each having the down stroke crossed by a horizontal line, both ends terminating in a circle; besides them is a six-rayed star, each ray terminating in a circle, precisely resembling the star in Plate in., Fig. 8, supra. I can offer no satisfactory explanation of the emblem.