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Picts

Picts. An indigenous tribe or group of tribes in Scotland during the Roman and post-Roman periods. They are first mentioned in ad 297 by Eumenius who calls them ‘half-naked enemies’ of the Britons. ‘Picts’ is probably a Latinized word meaning ‘painted people’. Classical writers, among them Julius Caesar, refer to the British habit of body-painting with materials such as woad. The Picts, along with other Britons, may even have been tattooed.

It is difficult to determine whether they had a substantive ethnic identity or if ‘Picti’ was merely a convenient label given by classical writers to all tribal peoples in Scotland in the later Roman period. A Roman poet observes in ad 310 that the Emperor Constantius chose not to acquire the woods and marshes of the ‘Caledones and other Picti’. The Caledonians were certainly one major tribe north of the Forth–Clyde frontier, whereas it would seem that ‘Picti’ were a whole group of tribes, possibly a new federation.

An important historical attestation of the Picts is provided by Ammianus Marcellinus, who records attacks on Roman Britain by Picts, Scots, Irish, and Saxons culminating in the ‘Picts' War’ of ad 367–8. Count Theodosius was sent to recover the situation and he restored the province after a major campaign. St Patrick refers to the Picts of the 5th cent. as ‘most shameful, wicked and apostate’ after they bought some of his Christian converts from slave dealers. Gildas refers to ‘marauding Picts’, savages with more hair on their faces than clothes on their bodies, who came by sea from the north and raided post-Roman Britain. In the 8th cent. Bede believed that at the time of St Columba's mission the Picts were divided into northern and southern groups, the latter having been converted to Christianity by St Ninian. According to legend, the last king of the Picts was killed at the instigation of Kenneth MacAlpin c. ad 842.

Archaeologically, the Picts are possibly represented by a number of carved standing ‘Pictish symbol stones’ found throughout Scotland. These probably date from the 6th–10th cents. ad and are incised with a wide corpus of symbols inspired by Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and Christian iconography.

Eleanor Scott

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"Picts." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Picts." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/picts

"Picts." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/picts

Picts

Picts, ancient inhabitants of central and N Scotland, of uncertain origin. First mentioned (AD 297) by the Roman writer Eumenius as northern invaders of Roman Britain, they were probably descendants of late Bronze Age and early Iron Age invaders of Britain. Their language is thought to have been a superimposition of Celtic on a pre-Celtic and non-Indo-European language, but there is no undisputed interpretation of it or their culture. By the early 7th cent. there was a unified Pictish kingdom north of a line from the Clyde to the Forth rivers. It apparently had a matrilinear system of succession and had probably adopted Celtic Christianity. To the south of the Picts, Scottish invaders from Ireland had established the kingdom of Dalriada in the 5th cent. Between 843 and 850 Kenneth I, king of Dalriada, established himself also as king of the Picts, although how and why is not clear. The kingdom of Alba thus formed became the kingdom of Scotland.

See W. C. Dickinson, Scotland from the Earliest Times to 1603 (rev. ed. 1965); I. Henderson, Picts (1967); A. B. Scott, The Pictish Nation (1977).

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"Picts." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Picts." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/picts

Picts

Picts Ancient inhabitants of e and n Scotland. By the 8th century, they had a kingdom extending from Caithness to Fife, and had adopted Christianity. To the w and s of the Picts, invaders from Ireland established the kingdom of Dalriada; in 843 its king, Kenneth I, also became king of the Picts, uniting the two kingdoms into the kingdom of Scotland.

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"Picts." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Picts." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/picts

"Picts." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/picts