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Old 18th August 2005, 17:05
Texasmujer Texasmujer is offline
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Scots vs. Picts

I was just reading some info about Fife; there is information concerning a battle between the Picts and the Scots...can anyone tell me which peoples predates the other? Where can I find information about this? (In some books here, the Picts are mentioned, yet, there is not a word about the Scots, so I wonder...) Thanks!
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Old 18th August 2005, 17:43
ANDY-J3 ANDY-J3 is offline
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The first mention of the Picts is around the third century AD but they were the descendents of the Celtic peoples who had lived in and migrated to Scotland for over 2000 years.The Scots arrived from Ireland in about the fifth century and for several hundred years only occupied the north west of Scotland.As the Picts became weakened by battles against the Angles and Vikings the Scots extended their power over almost all of Scotland and after the tenth century the Picts ceased to be an independent people except perhaps in the area of Moray in northern Scotland where their language and culture might have lingered for a while.
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Old 18th August 2005, 18:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texasmujer
I was just reading some info about Fife; there is information concerning a battle between the Picts and the Scots...can anyone tell me which peoples predates the other? Where can I find information about this? (In some books here, the Picts are mentioned, yet, there is not a word about the Scots, so I wonder...) Thanks!
The Picts predated the Scots in the North of Britain and are generally viewed as the aboriginal peoples of the north. As for books one which immediately pops to mind is 'Picts,Gaels and Scots' which is part of the historic scotland range.

The generally accepted view of the Picts is that they were a Celtic people related to the Britons from whom the modern day Welsh/Cornish/Breton are descended although until fairly recently they were thought to be non-Celtic and some persist with this view.

As Andy has pointed out the Scots migrated from Ireland in the fifth century (though ive seen some put forward the view that the Celts of the west coast may have already been goidelic rather than brittonic as a result of having closer ties with Ireland but ive only encountered this rarely so wouldnt give it any serious thought) and while there was, inevitably, some strife between them and the Picts generally the relationship was (by the standards of the time) very harmonious and saw much intermarriage at all levels of society. Indeed while Coinneach macAlpin ascended to the Pictish throne(through the claim of his pictish,female ancestors) to found Scotland decades prior to this Pictish kings had gained the Scottish throne of Dal Riada which emphasises the very close ties between the peoples.

One of the most surprising questions in Scottish history is why did the Picts so quickly become Scots? Why was there language so quickly replaced? Despite being far more numerous than their goidelic cousins (ive seen some historians hypothesise that the Scots made up only 10% of Scotlands population during its early years) within a century, two at most, their language had disappeared almost without trace (we have the occasional place name to remind us of them today). Their customs survived the death of their language however such as the matrilineal mode of succession, tanistry and the dual royal houses although these traditions(if i remember rightly) ended with MacBeth.
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Old 18th August 2005, 19:59
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Originally Posted by JKennedy2
Excellent post and question of why the Picts became assimilated. The matrilineal mode of succession is posed most often but I never really understood how this would make a difference.
Basically if you had a Pictish heiress marrying a Scottish noble the lands etc of the Wife would fall into Scottish hands as a result. So Scots came to dominate - i think this is how it happened.
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I think a lot of history is written too much in the context of what is happening with the main players (Kings, Queens, Priests and Generals) rather than what is happening with the people. Throughout history, and today, there has always been some form of class structure. Quite often the top one or two classes get killed or pushed down but the bottom classes remain and sometime perculated their way back up. Happened time and time again in British, Irish, and Scottish history as we all know. I think this best explains what happened to the Picts, and perhaps also what happened to the people that were in Scotland before the Picts.
Good point. Comparisons could be made between early Scotland which saw the complete dominance of the language of the Scots at all levels of the society upon which it was imposed while Norman England saw the native anglo-saxon language and culture persist and survive amongst the masses and eventually it was the language of the conquering rulers which gave way to the tongue of the conquered. With the Picts i think it was a combination of intermarriage combined with the catastrophic defeat to the Vikings(which opened the way for macAlpin and the union of Dal Riada with Pictavia) which saw both the King, and his brother killed along with the majority of the nobility which left a huge gap for the Scots nobility to fill.
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In Scotland today I think there are still at least five somewhat distinct people. The remnants of the Highlanders and Islanders who are now more numerous overseas, and who derived from both Scots and Picts and others. The predominant Lowlanders, who are also derived from both Scots and Picts and others. Third, modern Scots who are predominantly of English origin but have been in Scotland enough generations to consider themselves Scottish or British rather than English. Fourth, modern Scots of relatively recent Irish origin (200 years) who might consider themselves Irish or Scotish or a continuation of a long tradition of being both. Finally, many other newcomers from around the globe who also continue a long tradition of bring something new, and becoming part of something old. Of course these five categories are arbitrary and indviduals may be a mix of any numbers of these. Also, whatever class exists in Scotland today is made up of representation from all of these groups with all groups being equal and some groups being more equal than others, which has always been what politics and people are all about.
Very interesting points but personally i would find it very hard to differentiate seriously between Scots. Any distinctions between groups would be Urba/Rural/Island etc which are more geographical (with of course very significant undercurrents of older, truly distinct culture and language) and are to be found in England and pretty much any other nation on earth. In terms of self-perception i agree with you with regards to the fairly recent Irish who do have an irritating habit (generally down to sectarian feelings/troubles which strengthen such partisan inclinations) of claiming to be Irish rather than Scottish.
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Even when we study history, it is difficult to separate out politics, modern politics or ancient politics.
Indeed. Any debate on a period/area of history as convoluted as that of Scotland is open to misinterpetation,misundestanding and confusion given the heavy presence of political and ethnic bias which has often tainted the view of our history and the people of our nation.
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Old 18th August 2005, 21:51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JKennedy2
This always seemed a convenient oversimplification to me. Then again, that may have been the point even at the time, as may have happened before if the Picts had had earlier contact with British Celts.

My point though is that if the Picts were able to dominate, (politically, militarily, technologically, culturally, and however else) they would have, and the lands of the Scottish 'princes' would have fallen into Pictish hands.
I agree its probably an oversimplification. As regards the ability of the Picts to dominate i think geography might have had a significant role to play in standing between Dal Riada and the dominant Brittonic cultures of the rest of the north and later of course the Picts were under intense pressure from outside influences such as the vikings which eventually led to the power vacuum previously described into which the Scots stepped.
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Originally Posted by JKennedy2
I guess what I am saying is who decided that when a Celtic man married a Pictish woman the inheritance of land and title falls to the son rather than the daugters? Clearly it wasn't the Picts that decided. I don't think this has ever been fully examined. What roll did the 'religious' leaders have in this. Who ran the 'military'? What was there in the way of commerce and what role did that play?
Your question regarding the importance of religion is very pertinent and not one i had previously considered. The fact that the christian centre of Northern Britain at the time was centred in Dal Riada under the Columban church at Iona may well have had a significant role to play in the victory of Scottish over Pictish language/culture.
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Did the Scots have any technical or ideological advantages that helped sway what was essentially a political outcome?
Im unaware of any and given the paucity of sources and the specific nature of the questions i doubt it would ever be possible to answer with anything other than open conjecture.
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Did any other 'Celtic' or 'Indo-European' culture have matrilineal decent, or was this an artifact of a Proto-European or Proto-British culture that was part of the Pictish culture? If it was part of the Pictish culture because they were already a mix of Patriarchial Celtic and Matriarchial Proto-British, how was this issue settled before in favour of the Matriarchial Proto-British?
Good questions, none of which i have the answer to . I cant remember if the Welsh had matrilineal descent at any point but they did have the distinct (and highly weakening) tradition of distrubutive inheritence whereby all a mans sons were entitled to an equal share of the fathers estate - this led to the fractious nature of Welsh states and made it very easy for the English to divide and conquer.
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Old 19th August 2005, 10:12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JKennedy2
Now do you think when we all pass on we will be able to go back and see it all in its full romantic glory, or will we all have better things to do?
A truly blissful prospect for anyone with the slightest interest in history . I certainly wouldnt have anything better to do .
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Old 19th August 2005, 12:41
ANDY-J3 ANDY-J3 is offline
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originally posted by an Siarach
One of the most surprising questions in Scottish history is why did the Picts so quickly become Scots? Why was there language so quickly replaced? Despite being far more numerous than their goidelic cousins (ive seen some historians hypothesise that the Scots made up only 10% of Scotlands population during its early years) within a century, two at most, their language had disappeared almost without trace (we have the occasional place name to remind us of them today). Their customs survived the death of their language however such as the matrilineal mode of succession, tanistry and the dual royal houses although these traditions(if i remember rightly) ended with MacBeth.

It's perhaps less surprising when you consider that Celtic societies had a very structured hierarchy and the language of the aristocracy and the church would be readily adopted by those lower down the social ladder,and also it should be remembered that there had been interaction between Picts and Scots for many centuries so the Picts were not adopting a language which was totally alien to them.Also it may not be coincidence that those areas which readily adopted Inglis,such as Fife and Tayside,were the former territories of the Picts which suggests that Gaelic may not have as firmly established throughout Pictland as it was in its traditional heartland of the north-west.
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