Episode 8 Celts and Picts in Scotland
The Celtic World
Dr Jennifer Paxton (2018)
At the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain, the area north of Antonine’s wall was divided into seven nations, each ruled by a descendant of the seven sons of the legendary king Cruithne. They spoke a Brythonic P-Celtic language similar to Welsh.
The term Pict, commonly used after the 3rd century AD to refer to Barbarians living north of Antonine’s wall, was a Roman term meaning “painted ones.” It referred to the tradition of Scottish Celts tattooing themselves.
Under late Roman occupation (367-368 AD), the so-called Picts allied themselves with Irish Celts and briefly seized control of all Britain.
In the mid 5th century AD, settlers from northern Ireland migrated to islands off the west coast of Scotland. Known as Scots, the spoke Scotti (Irish). Around the same time, a Germanic tribe known as the Angles pushed north into the Scottish lowlands, which is the main reason English is currently the primary language of Scotland.
Only a few Pictish inscriptions survive from the 4th-6th century AD but all suggest Pictish was a P-Celtic language similar to Gallic and Welsh. A few Pictish inscriptions were printed in Latin, but most were written in Ogham, a script used to record ancient Irish:
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