Did You Know?
- The Picts
The earliest known inhabitants of the Highlands of Scotland were called the "Picti" or "painted people" by a Roman writer round about 300AD.
They are thought to have originated as Celts in central Europe and, as Bronze and Iron Age settlers, moved into the area after the ice age.
The Romans identified individual tribes as the Caledonii and the Maetae. But apart from late lists of kings written in Latin, they left no written record so we do not even know the name by which they called themselves.
They built forts and left many carved standing stones with symbols as well as narrative stories and representations of mounted warriors.
A few items of gold and silver jewelry have survived and some antler combs. None of their weapons have survived - only representations carved in stone. Later carved stones had Christian symbols on one side and narrative scenes and symbols on the other.
In AD 83/84, the Romans under the governor Agricola, had marched up the east coast of Scotland, establishing temporary forts. The Picts, under the leadership of Calgacus, harassed the Romans but in the north-west the Romans advanced inland. A pitched battle was fought at Mons Graupius between 30,000 Pictish warriors and the Roman Legions. The Roman cavalry outclassed the Picts and 10,000 were slaughtered (by Roman estimates).
In addition to the Highlands, including the Hebrides, the Picts spread into Angus and Fife as far as the river Forth.
The Picts were eventually overcome by the Scots from Dalriada (that is, in Argyll in the west) who themselves were under pressure from the Vikings. Kenneth mac Alpin may have defeated the Picts in battle but around the 9th century they disappear from the historical records.
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