Dec 2, 2009

"Who were...?" Wednesday

The Picts
(possibly meaning "painted" or "tattooed")

I have always been fascinated by history and for sometime, this group has held my interest. A cousin of mine has been researching our family tree for several years and has traced one branch all the way back to the 1590's in the Scottish region Aberdeenshire.  Now, I'm by no means making the leap that somehow my family tree may stretch back to the time of the Pict's but in a random flight of fancy I thought I would research this group a little further, just because.  Please feel free to comment if you can add to the sketchy information that I've been able to dig up...

The first ever written record of the people known as the Picts came from Roman sources. In 297 A.D. the orator Eumenius referred to the Britons as "...already being accustomed to the Picti and Hiberni as enemies."... meaning that they had probably been present in society for some time and some linguistic evidence suggests they spoke a type of Celtic language. All accounts that I have read indicate the Pict's as a warrior people and historians do know that they were mighty sailors as there are some texts mentioning that the Romans feared the Pictish Navy.

It is unknown what the Picts called themselves and all historians haveis a name which may have been 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. 

Strangely, Pictish symbols usually occur in pairs and around fifty pairs are known. Of these are animals such as the salmon, deer and bull... birds like the eagle and goose... “monsters” such as the infamous Pictish Beast and more enigmatic designs such as the crescent and V rod, comb and mirror and double disk. The Pictish symbol stones are generally found in the north-east of Scotland, with clusters found along the eastern coasts and into the Highlands.

Sadly,there is little else left of the Picts besides their carvings, save a text left  called the  king-list, which gives the names and the lengths of the reigns of 60 or more Pictish kings. The list ends with Causantin mac Cinaeda, who died in 876.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Interesting post!

Sadie said...

Good Morning Lizzy. Hey it only makes sense to me that if you traced your family that far back into scotland that ummm chances are good that you came from pict stock. Genealogy is so interesting. We have traced our family back to the 1500's in England (still celtic), then followed My 9-great grandfathers trek over the ocean blue, he landed in Massachusettes in 1636 and that begins our american roots. lol

I luv your posts.

stay blessed

Rue said...

I love that the symbols were carved in pairs. I do wish there was more information on these people - so that you could share it with us!