This evening, my theme is the Picts who were the indigenous people of Scotland prior to arrival of the Scots from Ireland around the 5th century AD.

Pictish stone at Meigle

We learn of the Picts from the Romans who called the people Pictii or ‘Painted Men’. Our knowledge base of the Pictsis woefully low with much left to speculation. This is because (a) the Picts seem to have left no record of a written language and (b) they were never assimilated within the Roman Empire thus only tit bits of information from Roman sources are available. The Picts were ultimately subsumed, around the 9th century,within a united country of what is now Scotland ruled by the Gaelic speaking Scots.

Pictish Carved Stone

What is known about the Picts can be summarised as follows:

  • As first settlers they chose the best sites  which were usually south facing.
  • Their place names usually began with Pet or Pit and possibly Pent as well. Thus we can be reasonably sure that places like Pitlochry, Pitagowan, Pitcairn and Pitmeddan were all founded by Pictish people.
  • They were expert stone carvers and have left us with a considerable endowment of elaborate stone carvings found in around 125 sites, mainly in the north and east of Scotland. We do not fully understand the significance of these carvings which feature a combination of abstract shapes, rods, animals and objects representing everyday life.

Most of the carvings are available to the public for viewing. In the county of Angus there is a Pictish Trail which includes the museum at Meigle which holds over 30 sculptured stones and is one my favourite pre-history sites. Not to be overlooked is the Dupplin Cross at Dunning in Perthshire. Recently, I discovered the Dunfallandy cross-slab near Pitlochry which is quite impressive.

Carved Pictish Stone

To sum up.the Picts continue to prove elusive because of almost complete lack of written records. On the other hand they have left a very tangible record of elaborately carved stones the meanings of which leave much to guess work and speculation. The images above and below are of carved stones at Meigle museum.

Scuptured Pictish Stone

Pictish Stone at Meigle


Elsewhere today, I have working on new web pages and attending to upcoming new tours. Also, posted information on Muirhead family history to my Glasgow Ancestry blog.

Weather here in Glasgow is dry but cool for time of year.

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