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the Picts

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Celtic Cauldron
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2014, 07:04:01 pm »



Approximate location of Pictish kingdoms, based on the information given here
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2014, 07:05:58 pm »

Society

The archaeological record provides evidence of the material culture of the Picts. It tells of a society not readily distinguishable from its similar Gaelic and British neighbours, nor very different from the Anglo-Saxons to the south.[40] Although analogy and knowledge of other Celtic societies may be a useful guide, these extended across a very large area. Relying on knowledge of pre-Roman Gaul, or 13th century Ireland, as a guide to the Picts of the 6th century may be misleading if analogy is pursued too far.

As with most peoples in the north of Europe in Late Antiquity, the Picts were farmers living in small communities. Cattle and horses were an obvious sign of wealth and prestige, sheep and pigs were kept in large numbers, and place names suggest that transhumance was common. Animals were small by later standards, although horses from Britain were imported into Ireland as breed-stock to enlarge native horses. From Irish sources it appears that the élite engaged in competitive cattle-breeding for size, and this may have been the case in Pictland also. Carvings show hunting with dogs, and also, unlike in Ireland, with falcons. Cereal crops included wheat, barley, oats and rye. Vegetables included kale, cabbage, onions and leeks, peas and beans and turnips, and some types no longer common, such as skirret. Plants such as wild garlic, nettles and watercress may have been gathered in the wild. The pastoral economy meant that hides and leather were readily available. Wool was the main source of fibres for clothing, and flax was also common, although it is not clear if they grew it for fibres, for oil, or as a foodstuff. Fish, shellfish, seals, and whales were exploited along coasts and rivers. The importance of domesticated animals argues that meat and milk products were a major part of the diet of ordinary people, while the élite would have eaten a diet rich in meat from farming and hunting.[41]
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2014, 07:06:24 pm »

No Pictish counterparts to the areas of denser settlement around important fortresses in Gaul and southern Britain, or any other significant urban settlements, are known. Larger, but not large, settlements existed around royal forts, such as at Burghead, or associated with religious foundations.[42] No towns are known in Scotland until the 12th century.[43]

The technology of everyday life is not well recorded, but archaeological evidence shows it to have been similar to that in Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England. Recently evidence has been found of watermills in Pictland.[44] Kilns were used for drying kernels of wheat or barley, not otherwise easy in the changeable, temperate climate.[45]
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2014, 07:06:39 pm »

The early Picts are associated with piracy and raiding along the coasts of Roman Britain. Even in the Late Middle Ages, the line between traders and pirates was unclear, so that Pictish pirates were probably merchants on other occasions. It is generally assumed that trade collapsed with the Roman Empire, but this is to overstate the case. There is only limited evidence of long-distance trade with Pictland, but tableware and storage vessels from Gaul, probably transported up the Irish Sea, have been found. This trade may have been controlled from Dunadd in Dál Riata, where such goods appear to have been common. While long-distance travel was unusual in Pictish times, it was far from unknown as stories of missionaries, travelling clerics and exiles show.[46]

Brochs are popularly associated with the Picts. Although these were built earlier in the Iron Age, with construction ending around 100 AD, they remained in use into and beyond the Pictish period.[47] Crannóg, which may originate in Neolithic Scotland, may have been rebuilt, and some were still in use in the time of the Picts.[48] The most common sort of buildings would have been roundhouses and rectangular timbered halls.[49] While many churches were built in wood, from the early 8th century, if not earlier, some were built in stone.[50]

The Picts are often said to have tattooed themselves, but evidence for this is limited. Naturalistic depictions of Pictish nobles, hunters and warriors, male and female, without obvious tattoos, are found on monumental stones. These stones include inscriptions in Latin and ogham script, not all of which have been deciphered. The well known Pictish symbols found on stones, and elsewhere, are obscure in meaning. A variety of esoteric explanations have been offered, but the simplest conclusion may be that these symbols represent the names of those who had raised, or are commemorated on, the stones. Pictish art can be classed as Celtic, and later as Insular.[51] Irish poets portrayed their Pictish counterparts as very much like themselves.[52]
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« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2014, 07:07:13 pm »



The harpist on the Dupplin Cross, Scotland, c. 800 AD
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« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2014, 07:07:48 pm »



Reconstructed crannóg on Loch Tay
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« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2014, 07:09:00 pm »



An early 20th century depiction of Saint Columba's miracle at the gate of King Bridei's fortress, described in Adomnán's late 7th century Vita Columbae
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« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2014, 07:09:24 pm »

Religion

Early Pictish religion is presumed to have resembled Celtic polytheism in general, although only place names remain from the pre-Christian era. When the Pictish elite converted to Christianity is uncertain, but traditions place Saint Palladius in Pictland after he left Ireland, and link Abernethy with Saint Brigid of Kildare.[53] Saint Patrick refers to "apostate Picts", while the poem Y Gododdin does not remark on the Picts as pagans.[54] Bede wrote that Saint Ninian (confused by some with Saint Finnian of Moville, who died c. 589), had converted the southern Picts.[55] Recent archaeological work at Portmahomack places the foundation of the monastery there, an area once assumed to be among the last converted, in the late 6th century.[56] This is contemporary with Bridei mac Maelchon and Columba, but the process of establishing Christianity throughout Pictland will have extended over a much longer period.

Pictland was not solely influenced by Iona and Ireland. It also had ties to churches in Northumbria, as seen in the reign of Nechtan mac Der Ilei. The reported expulsion of Ionan monks and clergy by Nechtan in 717 may have been related to the controversy over the dating of Easter, and the manner of tonsure, where Nechtan appears to have supported the Roman usages, but may equally have been intended to increase royal power over the church.[57] Nonetheless, the evidence of place names suggests a wide area of Ionan influence in Pictland.[58] Likewise, the Cáin Adomnáin (Law of Adomnán, Lex Innocentium) counts Nechtan's brother Bridei among its guarantors.
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« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2014, 07:09:47 pm »

The importance of monastic centres in Pictland was not, perhaps, as great as in Ireland. In areas that have been studied, such as Strathspey and Perthshire, it appears that the parochial structure of the High Middle Ages existed in early medieval times. Among the major religious sites of eastern Pictland were Portmahomack, Cennrígmonaid (later St Andrews), Dunkeld, Abernethy and Rosemarkie. It appears that these are associated with Pictish kings, which argues for a considerable degree of royal patronage and control of the church.[59] Portmahomack in particular has been the subject of recent excavation and research, published by Martin Carver.[60]

The cult of Saints was, as throughout Christian lands, of great importance in later Pictland. While kings might patronise great Saints, such as Saint Peter in the case of Nechtan, and perhaps Saint Andrew in the case of the second Óengus mac Fergusa, many lesser Saints, some now obscure, were important. The Pictish Saint Drostan appears to have had a wide following in the north in earlier times, although all but forgotten by the 12th century. Saint Serf of Culross was associated with Nechtan's brother Bridei.[61] It appears, as is well known in later times, that noble kin groups had their own patron saints, and their own churches or abbeys.[62]
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« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2014, 07:10:51 pm »



Animal head from St Ninian's Isle Treasure
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« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2014, 07:11:23 pm »

Art

Pictish art appears on stones, metalwork and small objects of stone and bone. It uses a distinctive form of the general Celtic Early Medieval development of La Tène style with increasing influences from the Insular art of 7th and 8th century Ireland and Northumbria, and then Anglo-Saxon and Irish art as the Early Medieval period continues. The most conspicuous survivals are the many Pictish stones that are located all over Pictland, from Inverness to Lanarkshire. An illustrated catalogue of these stones was produced by J. Romilly Allen as part of The Early Church Monuments of Scotland, with lists of their symbols and patterns. The symbols and patterns consist of animals including the Pictish Beast, the "rectangle", the "mirror and comb", "double-disk and Z-rod" and the "crescent and V-rod," among many others. There are also bosses and lenses with pelta and spiral designs. The patterns are curvilinear with hatchings. The so-called cross-slabs are carved with Pictish symbols, Insular-derived interlace and Christian imagery, though interpretation is often difficult due to wear and obscurity. Several of the Christian images carved on various stones, such as David the harpist, David and the lion, or scenes of St Paul and St Anthony meeting in the desert, have been influenced by the Insular manuscript tradition.[64]

Pictish metalwork is found throughout Pictland and also further south; the Picts appeared to have a considerable amount of silver available, probably from raiding further south, or the payment of subsidies to keep them from doing so. The very large hoard of late Roman hacksilver found at Traprain Law may have originated in either way.
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« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2014, 07:11:37 pm »

The largest hoard of early Pictish metalwork was found in 1819 at Norrie's Law in Fife, but unfortunately much was dispersed and melted down (Scottish law on treasure finds has always been unhelpful to preservation). Two famous 7th century silver and enamel plaques from the hoard, one shown above, have a "Z-rod", one of the Pictish symbols, in a particularly well-preserved and elegant form; unfortunately few comparable pieces have survived.[65] Over ten heavy silver chains, some over 0.5m long, have been found from this period; the double-linked Whitecleuch Chain is one of only two that have a penannular ring, with symbol decoration including enamel, which shows how these were probably used as "choker" necklaces.[66]

In the 8th and 9th centuries, after Christianization, the Pictish elite adopted a particular form of the Celtic brooch from Ireland, preferring true penannular brooches with lobed terminals. Some older Irish pseudo-penannular brooches were adapted to the Pictish style, for example the Breadalbane Brooch (British Museum). The St Ninian's Isle Treasure contains the best collection of Pictish forms. Other characteristics of Pictish metalwork are dotted backgrounds or designs and animal forms influenced by Insular art. The 8th century Monymusk Reliquary has elements of Pictish and Irish style.[67]
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« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2014, 07:12:16 pm »



The Rogart brooch, National Museums of Scotland, FC2. Pictish penannular brooch, 8th century, silver with gilding and glass. Classified as Fowler H3 type.[63]
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« Reply #28 on: December 09, 2014, 07:12:58 pm »



The Aberlemno Kirkyard Stone, Class II Pictish stone
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« Reply #29 on: December 09, 2014, 07:13:58 pm »

Language


The Pictish language has not survived. Evidence is limited to place names, the names of people found on monuments, and the contemporary records. The evidence of place-names and personal names argues strongly that the Picts spoke Insular Celtic languages related to the more southerly Brittonic languages.[68] A number of Ogham inscriptions have been argued to be unidentifiable as Celtic, and on this basis, it has been suggested that non-Celtic languages were also in use.[69]

The absence of surviving written material in Pictish – if the ambiguous "Pictish inscriptions" in the Ogham script are discounted – does not indicate a pre-literate society. The church certainly required literacy in Latin, and could not function without copyists to produce liturgical documents. Pictish iconography shows books being read, and carried, and its naturalistic style gives every reason to suppose that such images were of real life. Literacy was not widespread, but among the senior clergy, and in monasteries, it would have been common enough.[70]

Place-names often allow us to deduce the existence of historic Pictish settlements in Scotland. Those prefixed with the Brittonic prefixes "Aber-", "Lhan-", or "Pit-" (=? "peth", a thing) are claimed to indicate regions inhabited by Picts in the past (for example: Aberdeen, Lhanbryde, Pitmedden, etc.). Some of these, such as "Pit-" (portion, share), may have been formed after Pictish times, and may refer to previous "shires" or "thanages".[71]

The evidence of place-names may also reveal the advance of Gaelic into Pictland. As noted, Atholl, meaning New Ireland, is attested in the early 8th century. This may be an indication of the advance of Gaelic. Fortriu also contains place-names suggesting Gaelic settlement, or Gaelic influences.[72] A pre-Gaelic interpretation of the name as Athfocla meaning 'north pass' or 'north way', as in gateway to Moray, suggests that the Gaelic Athfotla may be a Gaelic misreading of the minuscule c for t.[73]
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