The Picts were a mysterious people about whom very little is known.
PICTS When and Where
The Picts were a group of tribes who lived mainly in the eastern and north eastern regions of Scotland during the ancient and early medieval period, merging combining and marrying with peoples of other tribes around the tenth century. Mostly Celtic, and also with other indigenous tribes, they appear to have spoken a language that has since been forgotten. Their ancestors were possibly the people who built the great stone circles in the third millennium BC in Neolithic times, and in the early Iron Age from about 600 BC to 200 AD."
Pict seems to be a Roman name meaning “Painted People”, indicating that they followed a custom of painting or tattooing with blue patterns.
We don’t know what the Picts called themselves. Instead we have a name which may be derived from the Latin picti, which means ‘painted’. Other pieces of evidence, like the Irish name for the Picts, ‘Cruithne’, which also means ‘painted’ leads us to believe that the Picts practiced body painting, if not actual tattooing. The Picts had a distinct artistic style that remains in carvings and metalwork.
“They were the most extraordinary artists. They could drawa wild boar, an eagle,a wolf, a salmon, on a piece of stone with a single line and produce a beautiful flowing carved image.
The Picts were a fiercely independent people who appear to have succeeded in the battles against the Romans, being descendants of the Caledonian tribes that the Romans first encountered. Having lived without being dominated by Roman rulers.
The Picts and Romans had a relationship of frequent warfare, and this didn’t change much with their neighbours after the Romans withdrew from Britain. By the seventh century the Pictish tribes had merged together into a region named, by others, as ‘Pictland’, with a varying number of sub kingdoms. They sometimes conquered and ruled neighbouring kingdoms, such as Dál Riada.
The Pictish style of warfare has been recorded on a few engraved stone slabs. They were Keen horsemen, like the Celts tribes, they used both javelins and longer lances. Their foot soldiers fought with longer spears or pikes and may have even had formations, the likes of which were not seen again until William Wallace and Robert the Bruce reintroduced these speared units against the English.
They also carried the characteristically square shield decorated with swirling Celtic patterns. The women of the tribes were also renown warriors who could hunt and fight and attain high ranking status in the tribes.
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