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About the Picts

By: Celtic Bard Jeff

A People Apart translated as “Picts” was the name given to a people who inhabited a large part of what is now Scotland during the first millennium AD. Together with their neighbours – Scots, Britons and English – they played an important role in the early history of the British Isles. They make their first appearance in the historical record at the end of the third century when their raiding activities troubled the authorities of Roman Britain. After less than 600 years, they seem to vanish from the pages of history, leaving behind no written records of their own nor any significant trace of their language.

In the wake of their apparent disappearance a fictional tale was created to explain it, and a shroud of myth enveloped the true story of their fall from power. From these legends there emerged a belief that the Picts were a mysterious race whose history was unknown: a strange, almost alien nation who were very different from their neighbours. They became, in other words, a people apart.

The modern visitor to the Highland areas of Scotland usually encounters the Picts through their spectacular artistic legacy. This is most vividly represented by several hundred finely carved stones, many of which are still visible in the landscape. Many these stones bear esoteric designs which are repeated and replicated with remarkable consistency across a wide geographical area, from Skye to Aberdeen and from Shetland to Fife. The meaning of these symbols defies interpretation and, despite numerous attempts to decipher them, their original purpose remains an enduring puzzle. It is perhaps ironic that the symbol stones – the most impressive legacy of the Picts – make this ancient people seem even more mysterious. The span of the Picts history is generally covering the years 300–850.

Source: The Picts A History by Tim Clarkson Image: Pict warrior

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