Confession of St Patrick
End of Roman rule
After Roman Rule
The Saxon Invasion
The Age of Saints
Pagan Religions in Britain
Ogham and the Irish in Britain
Scotti and Scots
Dark Age Books
Early Welsh History
Picts, Gaels and Scots
by Sally M. Foster. A fully updated and expanded edition of a classic text on early Scottish history. From the 5th to the 10th century, Scotland was home to a variety of diverse peoples and cultures, all competing for land and supremacy. At the heart of the mystery of how Scotland became a single unified country lies the extraordinary influence of the Picts and their neighbours, the Gaels, originally immigrants from Ireland. Sally Foster uses the latest archaeological discoveries and interpretations as well as developments in historical, art-historical and place-name studies to explain how the Picts and Gaels became Scots and forged a nation.
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The Picti were first referred to in AD 297 by Eumenius.
The meaning of the term is uncertain although many texts interpret it as
'the painted ones'.
The term describes all the inhabitants north of the Forth-Clyde isthmus.
According to Foster (2004) the archaeological evidence from
the period supports this view although some commentators place the boundary
northwards around the Tay. We saw earlier that classical writers gave names
for a number of tribes and kingdoms within the Pictish area. They became
more clearly identifiable from archaeological and historical remains in
the sixth century. Whoever they were, Foster (2004: 9) states that: 'we
can be confident that they were simply the descendants of the native Iron
Age tribes of Scotland, most of whom were never part of the Roman empire,
or were only affected for short periods of time'.
She also considers that: 'The notion of the Picts having existed in
Galloway is now recognized as a myth which arose out of a misunderstanding
by medieval writers.'
The Picts have attracted considerable interest because of their symbols,
particularly on sculpted stones. The Picts captured the imagination of
eighteenth and nineteenth century writers and travellers to the extent
that a wide range of monuments, particularly brochs, were attributed to
them. Foster argues that a factual, as opposed to a romantic, understanding
of the Picts dates only from the 1950s. Contributors to the Dundee conference
in 1952 (published in 1955 as The Problem of the Picts) felt that they
were unable to 'point to a single fortress or to a single dwelling or burial
and say with certainty that it is Pictish' (quoted in Foster, 2004: 12).
Foster (2004: 13) concludes that the romantic view of the Picts as an
enigmatic people can be resolved into six main issues:
- Pictish symbols
- Pictish language
- Matrilinear succession
- The 'Foul Hordes Paradigm' (barbarism)
- The lack of Pictish documents
- The Picts as a 'lost people'
The Tribes of Britain
by David Miles. The diverse peoples of Britain and Ireland are revealed not only by physical characteristics but also through structures and settlements, place names and dialects. Using the latest genetic and archaeological research, the author shows how different peoples traded, settled and conquered, establishing the 'tribal' and regional roots still apparent today. Its vast scope considers the impact of prehistoric peoples and Celtic tribes, Romans and Vikings, Saxons and Normans, Jews and Huguenots, as well as the increasing population movements of the last century. Available from:
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