2008 NTDWA


The Picts were a confederation of tribes in what later was to become central and
northern Scotland from before Roman times until the 10th century A.D.  The word
Pict may be a Roman word "painted" used to describe the ancient Pictish practice
of painting or tattooing themselves with intricate designs.  In the 1st century A.D.
Caesar remarks, "All Britons dye their bodies with woad which produces a blue
color and this gives them a terrifying appearance in battle."  The name stuck and
the people in the north have been known as Picts ever since.

We do not know what they called themselves since they left no decipherable
written language, but later others called them Cruithne, a word that certainly has a
Celtic heritage.  That does not, however, prove the Picts were Celts.  Some historians
believe they were Celts while others believe they were not.  But nevertheless the Picts
were not a backward tribal society.  They were a cultured people with art and a
sophisticated form of warfare.

Militarily the Picts appear to have been well organized and equipped.  They out-
numbered the Scots (Irish settlers) by more than 9 to 1 and with such organization
it is baffling how they could have been defeated in four centuries.  Indeed, it is
important to underscore the fact that the Picts did not simply disappear or vanish
from Scotland.  What vanished was the name of the Picts.  Through a combination
of warfare and marriage, the Pictish kingdoms were completely absorbed by the
Scots.  Though the people themselves remained, what seems not to have survived
was their language and culture.  By the late 9th century A.D. the Picts as a
separate and identifiable people would disappear from the history of Scotland.

Bob Parrish