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The lowly thistle saved a Pict settlement from a surprise attack by barefooted marauding Vikings.

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The Picts of Albann

Who They Were, Where They Came From,
Their Relationship With The "Dalriadic Scots",
What Happened To Them & Their Effect on Europe

A Comprehensive Study of the Celts, Picts & Scots 
And Their Interrelationships

All men admit the clan Gregor to be the purest branch of the ancient race of Scotland now in existence. - true descendents, in short, of the native Celtic stock of the country, and unmixed by blood with immigrants either of their own or of any other race.   About this point there is no dispute; and the name of clan Alpine, commonly adopted by them for centuries, would almost alone suffice to prove their descent from the Albiones, the first known inhabitants of Scotland.  Condensed from "Clans of the highlands of Scotland", Thomas Smibert, 1850.

Foreword:  In this the 21st century AD, according to some historians with axes to grind, we are being led to believe that the Picts were some sort of aboriginals, came from an unknown place, from an unknown people, or may have been La Tene Celts or the result of the mixing of Beaker peoples and Cro-Magnons from the Iberian peninsula, confined themselves to the northeast of Scotland, allowed a small hostile band of Irish cutthroats into their country, succumbed to these interlopers (even though they outnumbered them 10 to 1, and then disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving no descendents, and provided us with nothing of value. 

On the other hand, it is factually known the Picts of Albann formed a powerful Empire (consisting of all of today's Scotland], Northumbria [in today's England], Dalriada [in today's Ulster], the Inner and Outer Hebridies, and the island chains of the Orkneys, Shetlands, and Faroes), held off a series of mighty Roman armies, chased them back behind Hadrian's Wall into southern Briton, reduced Roman London to a smoking ruin in the 4th century AD, and beat back the Anglo-Saxon hordes, who had wiped out the Celts of southern Briton and established a universal Christian church well before the English ever heard of Christ.

A reader might justifiably ask 'What proof is there that the Picts laid waste to southern Briton in the 4th century AD?  Since the Picts did not record a written history (which was in the Celtic tradition), what was written, if anything,  about this epoch? - and how come there is no mention of it in any known recorded history of Britain, eg.  The earliest burning of London mentioned in any British historical record is in 1666..'

Of interest to skeptics is the account of Agricola, that his legions first encountered and fought with the Caledonians in Northumbria (in today's northern English County of Northumberland).

Documented Accounts by Roman historians:

By 383AD, Rome had withdrawn most of its legions from Briton.  In semi-isolation, the British garrison proclaimed the Spaniard Magnus Maximus, known in Welsh legend as Macsen Wledig, as Emperor in Britain.  He took his army to the continent to advance his claim and conquered Gaul, Spain and Italy. He occupied Rome itself in 388, only to be defeated in battle by Theodosius.

Maximus was beheaded in July of that year.  Legend has it that many of his surviving troops settled in Armorica (Brittany).  The consequence to Britain was the temporary loss of much of its defensive force.

Gildas, writing in the 6th century:
Thereafter, Briton was robbed of all her armed forces, her military supplies, her rulers, cruel as they were and her sturdy youth.  They followed in the steps of the usurper (Maximus).  Totally ignorant of all the usages of war, Britain remained for many years groaning in a state of shock, exposed for the first time to two tribes of extreme cruelty, the Scotti from the north-west and the Picts from the north.  As a result of their attacks and terrible depredations, Briton sent envoys to Rome with letters, making tearful appeals for an armed force to give protection, and promising unwavering and wholehearted submission to Roman rule, if only the enemy could be kept at a greater distance.

Recent y-dna tests have proven what has already been recorded, that the descendents of the GlenOrchy chief, "MacGregor of the Golden Bridles", through his surviving descendent houses of Glengyle, GlenCarnoch, and Roro, and many other MacGregors on the male side - are of northern Irish ancestry, a people known as the Ulaid.

However, Forbes MacGregor stated in his authoritative book 'Clan Gregor' (circa 1977) which was sanctioned by Clan Gregor, "The extraordinary discovery is, that although King Grig (Grigor) was by all authentic accounts a Pict, and the clan, (but not the old line of chiefs), are of Pictic origin." 

Forbes also wrote, "In the annals of the Scots for 940AD, the death of Hugh MacAlpin, who did not succeed his brother (Donald), son of Kenneth MacAlpin, was recorded. There was certainly not a clan Gregor at that time but this does not affect Hugh Mac Alpin's rule over Glen Orchy, which was probably populated by Dalriadic Scots, whom the MacGregors displaced over a century later."

The Clan Donald USA Genetic Project claims to have identified the genetic signature of the Scottish Dalriadic Royal family.  Subsequently, a few MacGregors (myself included) have been proven by y-dna comparisons to be direct descendents, on the male side of this family.  To view and compare the y-dna signature of that Royal family, with several MacGregor lines , the Campbells and the MacDonalds, click here.

According to Scottish myth, Colla Uais was the 121st High King of Ireland, who swept through Ulster, and then (mysteriously) took his followers to Albann around 325AD.  Fergus, Lorne, and Angus, sons of Erc, were the principal foundation lines reestablishing the Scottish kingdom of Dalriada around 465AD, after it had been obliterated several times by southern Pict Royal forces.  What is not mentioned in this Scottish tradition is that those three names are of Pict origin, and in their earlier Pict form - were actually, Uurgus, Lornn and Onnus.  Erc is also a (Gaelic) translation of the Pict Erp.

The question begs to be answered; Were the northern Irish families who colonized the "new Dalriada" in what is now Argyle, descendents of Pict colonizers from Albann known collectively as the "Ulaid" who settled in northern Ireland in the 2nd century BC?   "Uais" versus "Ulaid":  What are the odds?

Below, is a mythical representation of the Colla Uais family tree showing his son, Updar, as King of Albann, and his daughter, Alechia of Albann:  It must be remembered that this claim "to be King of Albann" was rather grandiose in that this particular Albann was merely a small area called "Dalriada", and in that epoch, "king" was the term used to denote a local Chief. 

 /                      \
            Updar (King) of ALBANN        Alechia (Aechia) of ALBANN

For an accurate account of Colla, scroll down to "Who Were the Dalriadic Scots?" below.

But what of the traditional claim of our clan that we are descended from Pict royalty?    Part of the explanation is that the Irish who emigrated to southwest Alban, and were derisively called Scotti (sea raiders) by the Romans, practiced the tanistry system, that is, they recorded their lineage from the male side, whereas the Picts traced theirs also from the female side.  (A new Pict King was occasionally chosen from the late King's sister's male children).

When there was a union of the two races, (and this happened often) their children could trace their ancestry back through both parents, and as would Alpin and his son, Kenneth MacAlpin, could qualify to inherit both Scot and Pict thrones.  In this way, Alpin was at least half Pict, and Kenneth MacAlpin was at least three quarters Pict, (because we don't know how many females in their ancestral line were Pict) but Fergus, and his extended family of adventurers (or perhaps  expellees), would carry the y-dna markers of their male Irish forebears.  Note: Alpin, Updar, Alechia, Uurgust, Onnust and Lornn were Pict names, not Gaelic.

Unlike other clans with little Pict connections, our clan is called 'Clan Gregor', not Clan MacGregor.  That is, our ancestors perceived our clan as being descended from Pict Royalty from either female or male sides.  To the Picts, the female side was more important, to the Scots, the male side was more important.   To our clan founders, it didn't matter.  

Recent y-dna tests have also proved a preponderance of outside bloodlines in our clan.  This vindicates the claims by many scholars that Clan Gregor was well known down through the ages for adopting both males and females into its ranks, and bestowing on them our highest honour, full Clan membership.

The following account is meant to familiarize living MacGregors with the truth of the origins of our family, and of the peoples who founded it.

Harold MacGregor

Who Were The Caledonians?

They were called Albiones, Orcadians, Caledonians, Picts, Pechts, Pretanii, Pryden, (Cruithne by the Gaels) and several other tribal names by their many adversaries.  In the standard Scottish Gaelic dictionary, the English word Caledonians is translated into "Albannach", denoting citizens of Albann.   (Similarly, more than one MacGregor are known as Gregorach) But who were they really?

Tacitus recorded; when the Romans entered the area now known as Northumberland (in England), they met the "Caledonii". These warriors were unlike any other in Britain and would occupy the Roman legions in running battles for four hundred years.  They were described as - "tall, fair or red-haired chiefs in primitive tartan, their shields and helmets painted gay with enamel, driving their pairs of small, tough, fast-moving ponies; they were followed by thousands of half-naked, barefoot 'British' infantry, bearing small, square, wooden shields, with a metal handgrip, and spears, with a knob at the butt-end, which could be clashed with a terrifying noise."

Those Britons were described as being "Keltoi", and subservient to the Caledonians, and  they were considered by the Romans to be of a different race. 

If this account is true, Celts from Europe ventured into northern Briton and perhaps became subservient to a previously unknown race.  This certainly flies in the face of typical Celtic behavior that history has recorded elsewhere.   Were these Caledonian "chiefs" descendents of the "Orcadians", who had sent emissaries to greet Julius Caesar, when he arrived in southern Britain 137 years earlier?

In the minds of the Romans, the Caledonians were the ruling caste in Albann.  Actually, they were merely one of the several petty kingdoms that constituted the Pict Confederacy.  In fact, they were the strongest Kingdom, and that impressed the Romans.  As a result of Roman attacks on Pict territory, all the Pict kingdoms pulled together to form a (temporary) military union that might be able to withstand a Roman invasion.  These seven Kingdoms were (in Gaelic) : Kazh, Ceann, Uurtriu, Circenn, Potla, For-treun and Uuib.  We are not sure of the actual spelling in Pict, as those spellings are from the Gaelic translations.

Tacitus called the war leader of the Caledonii, "Galgacus" (meaning the 'swordsman' in old Latin) but this was definitely an invented name.  His real name was probably Galannan,  This practice of selecting a war chief in times of military conflict was handed down through the generations in Pict clans until the 18th century, when Rob Roy MacGregor was selected as the War Chief of the Clan Gregor forces in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion.

In fact, this practice originated in the distant past, at least a thousand years earlier, when the Latin and Celtic speaking peoples were one.  (Gaulish and Latin language similarities have been generally accredited to a common language about 60 generations previous to the time of Julius Caesar), about 1500BC.  The Romans also practiced this process as they routinely appointed a temporary military dictator to manage their armed forces in times of national emergencies. 

Tacitus omitted any mention of Calgacus after the battle of Mons Grampians, indicating he was never killed nor captured by the Romans.  In fact, Tacitus did not witness the battle and merely used his fertile imagination to describe it - with the sole aim of glorifying the prowess of his father-in-law, Agricola.  Later, Tacitus's glowing accounts helped gain Agricola the supreme position of Emperor.

The Roman Wars

When Julius Caesar raided Britain in 55 and 54 BC, his official motive was to "teach the natives a lesson" by a show of Roman strength.    Unofficially, it was probably a matter of personal pride - and one of Caesar's mistresses was infatuated with the giant fresh water pearls that were only found in Britain.  Caesar fought several battles against various British chiefs and exacted tribute and hostages from them before departing Britain to pursue his path to power.   Permanent occupation was not contemplated.  The Romans would not return for another 97 years.

The First Roman Invasion-The cause of the first Roman invasion of Albann (a.k.a. Caledonia) was the need of the Emperor in Rome to gain prestige in the Senate and popularity with the people of Rome.  The man charged with subduing Caledonia was a General named Gnaeus Julius Agricola, Governor of the Province of Pretania (later Briton).  He crossed the River Tweed, and in the first year of the invasion went as far as the Tay estuary before falling back to the line of forts between the Clyde and Forth estuaries, (Hadrian's Wall).

The following summer he led his army north once again and continued up the fertile farmlands in the East side of the country - often called the 'granary of the north' - right through the heart of Pict territory.  He kept relatively near the coast in order to get supplies from the Roman Fleet for his 20,000 legionnaires - about one tenth of the total Roman army.  When the number of sailors including soldiers onboard the fleet is added to the total, the entire invasion force was about 30,000 men. Tacitus relates that Agricola, 'had sent his fleet ahead to plunder at various points and thus spread uncertainty and terror'.

As Agricola invaded Caledonia, Rome was in the process of conquering, most of the known world, including the ancient Empire of Egypt; Greece with its entire civilization; Carthage with its war galleys and elephants and most of Europe from Spain to the Rhine. Agricola expected a quick victory over these people.  However, Caledonia was about to plunge Rome into a 300 year long expensive, manpower-draining, casualty mounting, nightmare.  In all the history of Roman invasions this comparitivly little country was to prove itself the toughest.

The resoluteness of Roman determination to conquer the Picts is proven by their invading Caledonia three times and by no less than the Emperor Severus, himself, taking personal control of leading an invasion of 40,000 Roman troops into Caledonia in 209 AD.  The army of Severus was double the number available to Agricola, and 10,000 more than it took to subdue all the much larger tribes of south Briton.   In light of these later events, Tacitus's claim that Agricola conquered Caledonia appears as ridiculous propaganda.

The Second Roman Invasion- In 208 A.D., the governor of Britain appealed to the Emperor for help against the barbarians, and Septimus Severus decided to come to Britain together with his sons to teach the barbarians a lesson.  The old soldier took a huge fleet loaded with 40,000 centurions into the Firth of Forth, landed a vengeful army ashore, and although he defeated every Pictish army he met, and beheaded every Pictish chief who failed to surrender, he failed to conquer the land which he called Caledonia, and he too was soon dead.

However, the lesson grimly taught by the Romans, and the decimation caused in the Pict countryside must have been of such horrendous consequences that for nearly a century peace was kept in the land; the Romans manned Hadrian's Wall, and the northern tattooed tribes stayed in their grim, brooding hills north of it.

The Third Roman InvasionThe fourth century erupts in warfare again and in 305 AD, the Romans fought against "Caledonii and other Picts."   The northern tribes are now called "Picts" by their enemies, and in the south, Scots, Saxons and Franks also add to the woes of Rome by raiding southern Britain.

In 343 AD, Constans started a campaign against the Picts and eventually entered into a truce with them.  In 360 AD, Ammanius Marcellus states that the "Picts were now two peoples - the Dicalydones and Verturiones."  That same year, the truce is broken and the Picts, allied with the Scots of Ireland pour through the Antonnine wall into northern England and are eventually pushed back.

They kept hammering at the wall, and may have in fact joined in a multi- tribal alliance against Rome.  In 382-3, allied with Scots, Picts again invade England, and this time the damage done to the wall and its forts was never repaired although the invaders are driven back by the brilliant Magnus Maximus.

The end of the century brings yet another Pict invasion, this time met by the great Roman general Stilicho himself, who also managed to send the great Irish hero Niall of the Nine Hostages, scampering back to Ireland.

During the longest occupation of Caledonia, the Romans were unable to stay more than about 10 years; they had to build around 60 permanent fortified military camps and forts, build two massive defensive walls the entire width of the country, suffer defeat three times, retreated three times, and then suffered the indignity of having to pay Caledonian tribes not to make war with them.

As long as the Caledonians maintained their effective guerilla warfare, the Romans were never able to build any permanent settlements in what is now Scotland.   After all the efforts, all the expense, all the building and all the years of war - Caledonia would still be defiant, unconquered and free.  The Romans awoke a formidable enemy - one they would come to wish had never been disturbed.

It was Hadrian who decided that northern Scotland was not worth more legions, and so he pulled back the Empire to the Tyne and the Solway.  There he built the famous wall which bears his name, seventy miles from sea to sea.

Perhaps because of constant warfare and attacks against the wall, Antoninus Pius advanced the frontier again to the thin Scottish neck between the Forth and Clyde. Thirty seven miles long and boasting twenty forts, it separated Pict tribes on either sides of the wall. The wall was manned by the Second, Sixth and Twentieth Legions during its forty years.

The Picts never ceased attacking it, and in fact the Romans lost it and regained it twice before finally giving it up by the end of the second century and retreating to Hadrian's Wall. We learn from the words of Cassius Dio that the northern tribes "crossed the wall, did a great deal of damage and killed a general and his troops (one entire legion)."

The Ninth Legion disappeared in Albann somewhere and was never heard from again.  A new  "Ninth Legion" surfaced many years later in North Africa but those were different soldiers under different circumstances, representing a weak ploy to give the Roman public a proof the famous 9th Legion had not really been annihilated.

The Pict Invasions of Roman TerritoryIn the mid-4th century, Roman positions were under siege from three directions.  Those beyond Hadrian's Wall harried the Roman frontier once again.  In 365 AD, the Roman historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, clearly identified Rome’s enemies in Britain at the time as the: "Dicalydones" (the southern Picts) , the "Verturiones" (the northern Picts), the Attacotti (Scots of Dalriada) and the Saxons (Angles of Lothian).

These first two names refer solely to the Picts, and were merely phonetical pronunciations (to Roman ears) of the two most powerful Pict centres of power; the Caledonians, centered in Uurtrenn (Fortren in Gaelic) in the south, and the Moravians of Moray (previously known as Uurturiu) (Fortriu in Gaelic) in the north.

 In 367-369 and again in 382 AD, the Picts and Scots attacked in force in what Roman historians have called the “Barbarian Conspiracy”, and it took Rome considerable time and force to repel the attackers.

The Picts attacked again in 396 AD, this time acting alone, but were eventually repelled by the great Roman general, Stilicho.   The constant raids were having an effect, and with Rome itself under siege by the Visigoths, needing all its soldiers at home, they left about AD 410, never to return, creating a power vacuum that would pit the Picts, Scots, Angles and Britons against each other for 500 years.

As the Romans withdrew their garrisons, the Picts followed, wreaking havoc and disarray, until, in final triumph, satisfied they had avenged their slaughtered countrymen, they left the south in ruins and returned home.

Unknown to the victors, over the eastern and north-eastern horizons, others were planning their terrifying onslaughts on the British Isles.

The Pict Language-

The Pre-Celts spoke a non-Celtic language, such as a Scandinavian derivative.    However, the Picts spoke a Brythonic form of Celtic language as early as 1AD and this new language swamped the previous Pictish throughout the country by 300AD.  St. Columba's biographer clearly stated that he needed a translator to speak to the great Pict King, Brud.  However, this is because Brud spoke Brythonic, and the Irish spoke Gaelic, two distantly related but considerably different dialects originating from Gaullish Celt. 

The northern Pict Kingdom definitely included in its population many Orcadians, who would have either contributed to its linguistic uniqueness, or perhaps fathered its mainstream language.  On the other hand, the southern Pict Kingdom, would have included very few or no Orcadians, leaving their language a purer form of Brythonic Celt.

Some of its uniqueness survives even today in northern Scotland, in areas such as Buchans, where people still pronounce "w" as an "f", which is not a Gaelic characteristic.

The language the Welsh spoke then, and still, is the nearest we have to the original Celt language spoken in Caesar's time.  From all accounts, the Picts spoke a dialect of P-Celtic closely allied to modern Welsh.  Everyone agrees that Welsh is a dialect of P-Celtic, perhaps its purest surviving form.

The fact that the Picts of Alba were fluent in Celtic is proven by one very unique name, "Caunal", the 34th King of Albann.  Conall is listed in some books as unique to Breton, although the Irish and Scots had kings with the name, Conall, also. 

Brythonic Celtic Kingdoms about 500 BC (Pre-Roman)

We know, from Roman accounts, the Pict empire included, at times, Northumbria (with its Saxons) Strathclyde (with its Britons), and Ulster, with its Gaels and "Cruithne" Britons.  These prizes of war would not survive many generations, as those people had little loyalty to the "strange speaking" northern warrior society of the Picts.  The eventual union of the Dalriadic Scots (10%) and the Picts (90%), happened first, through intermarriages over centuries, a common religion, then a reaction to the horrendous Viking raids.

Surviving words and accounts illustrate some differences in the Pict and Welsh varieties of P-Celtic, but these differences were probably local vernacular peculiarities which could be explained by the influences of previous inhabitants that were assimilated into their respective societies, and/or to the semi-isolation of many northern Pict enclaves.

These peculiarities are evolving today in countries that speak a common language, even with the advent of a unifying device like television.  eg.  In the USA, being "pissed" means one is angry.  In the UK, it means one is inebriated.  In the USA, their autos burn gasoline.  In the UK, they burn petrol.  In Canada, we order double-doubles and bloody Caesars, while the Americans don't have a clue what we are talking about.  In the USA, when they courier something, they FedEx it, in Canada, we purolate it.  The Australians call a girl a Sheila - and we all speak English - on the surface.

On the other hand, the Breton dialect has been influenced by French much more than has Welsh been influenced by English.  For example, Breton has many French words and influences such as their form for King: Roue.  It is not far removed from the French Roi, which is no doubt pronounced the same.  We know from Roman accounts, the ancient Celtic name for King was Brenin, and it remains that in modern Welsh. 

Noted historian, Michael Lynch, eloquently stated that "Whatever the Picts were, they were likely, as were other peoples either in post-Roman western Europe or in contemporary Ireland, to have been an amalgam of tribes, headed by a warrior aristocracy which was by nature mobile. Their culture was the culture of the warrior... ."

Where Did The Picts Come From?  

From a purely academic point of view, it appears unlikely that an isolated civilization arising from the Orkney Islands, could develop an equestrian (horse) culture in such an inhospitable mountainous/island  region - with striking similarities to the Asiatic Scythian equestrian culture.  There must have been a considerable Scythian influence, and so, they must have originated in eastern Europe within the Scythian sphere of influence.

Where on the European continent did the northern Picts come from in about 400BC? There is some evidence that a group of Celts moved from the Poitou (Pictes) area just south of Breton and settled in Scandinavia for a few generations, mixed their language with Old Norse, then decided to join their relatives who had preceded them in north Britain.  

They were described as being pale-skinned, with blonde (or occasionally red hair), long limbed and wore tartans.  This very description would be apt for the later "Scots", especially such standouts as Rob Roy MacGregor, who was red-haired and was well known for his long armsThis type of peoples could only have developed in a far northern environment, most likely some part of Scandinavia.  The most northerly Celts in central Europe were called "Cimbri", and they are most likely to have been the precursors of the Picts.

When Julius Caesar raided Britain in 55BC, he found Picts were in control of southern Britain.  Their physical description fits with the Picts of Alba.  However, recent dna tests comparing ancient bones buried over 2,500 years ago, have proved that the dna of those inhabitants is exactly the same as the dna of most native British people living today.

It was recorded in Roman chronicles that the "Orcadians" sent emissaries to Claudius in 43 AD as he was conquering southern Briton (England).  One theory is the Picts were a natural outcome of Orcadians and "others" who settled in Albann.  These others could have been of Celtic origin as the Picts spoke an odd dialect of P-Celtic, and much of their culture was Celtic.  It is very unlikely the Celts would have massacred the Orcadians.  It is more likely they would have assimilated them - as was the Celtic tradition.

Some historical sources claimed the Picts were concentrated in the north and north-east of Albann.  However, this did not deter them from waging war on their neighbours.  It was reported they had guests (or hostages) from adjacent territories, (eg. the Orkneys) at their high court in Abernathy.  From these accounts, it appears the Pict Empire was more of a confederation of semi-independent principalities.  Given the mountainous terrain of the region, it was probably the only political system that would have worked.

Traditional Celt high-Kings kept sons of their lower echelon "kings" or "governors" (in today's lexicon), as hostages to ensure their loyalty.  This was done regularly in Ireland and was recorded by Columba as being the custom with King Brude when he visited him in Albann, and had several Orcadian princes as hostages.  So the Picts incorporated a purely "Celtic" system of control over their "governors".

A fact that supports the theory that the Picts were an outgrowth of the Orcadian culture is the fact that the most powerful kingdom in Albann was for a long time, Fidach (Uurtriu), (Moray) in the north. Kings of Uurtriu were routinely considered to be Kings of north Albann.  Kings of Fortrenn (Uurtrenn) were routinely considered to be Kings of southern Albann.  Later, the power centre shifted to Uurtrenn (Fife and Strathearn) in the south.  The Alban Empire

Given the Celtic habit of assimilating indigenous cultures they encountered (and used them as food producers), it is highly likely such an amalgamation would have resulted with the more advanced equine La-Tene P-Celtic culture remaining dominant, and the indigenous Orcadian culture eventually becoming merely the source of much of the uniqueness of the new society - by influencing it with some Orcadian words, architecture, superstitions and religious rites - where they proved useful.

This Orcadian/La-Tene Celtic "amalgamation" theory in north Britain is entirely consistent with what happened to Celtic trader/adventurers who swept through northern Iberia, and then on to Ireland to produce a related but significantly different culture/language called Q-Celtic or Gaelic.

To substantiate this theory, Tacitus recorded in 82-90 AD, during Agricola's invasion of Albann, that "Britons" who were subjugated by the "Caledonians" eagerly joined the Romans to shake off their oppressors.  Whether this was a bit of Roman invention as Tacitus (who was Agricola's son in law) was known to have propagandized his reports, his claim of a ruler/underclass society in Albann at that time could have been based on fact, at least, as discerned by a Roman of aristocratic standing.

Confirmation the Picts were a Nordic racial type
The following section in blue is extracted from "The Nordish Race" by Richard McCulloch.  (Note: Outstanding observations concerning Picts are outlined in maroon.)

"Aboriginal Northwest European Subraces

(The descendants of the first peoples to settle in northern Europe at the end of the last ice age, during the Upper Paleolithic period circa 8,000 B.C.)

1. (a) Borreby subrace (named after Danish island site where Paleolithic remains were found; principal element in Denmark, southwest coast of Sweden, northern Germany, the Rhineland and the Ruhr, majority element in Wallonia)
(b) Brünn subrace (named after Paleolithic site near Brno, or Brünn, Czech Republic; predominant element in western Ireland)

Nordic or Nordid subrace (The modern Nordic subrace is descended from the proto-Nordic Danubian neolithic farmers of the Danube valley whose expansion into northwest Europe circa 3,500 B.C. is probably associated with the spread of neolithic agriculture and the Indo-European language.) 
(a)  Hallstatt or Österdal type (named after Austrian site where remains were found and in a Norwegian valley near Oslo; predominant element in Sweden and southeastern Norway, common in Denmark, western Finland, eastern England and northern Germany)
Keltic type (predominant element in Flanders, majority in the Netherlands and northern and western Switzerland, primary element in England, eastern Scotland and old Frankish country in southwest Germany, common in Wales and Ireland; ancient Franks and northern Kelts were of this type). "

 Pict Origins - The Picts of Albann were reported to have called themselves "Kaldees", and there is some evidence which points to them being descendents of the Chaldees of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia.  In another context, ancient Picts habitually referred to themselves as "Culdees".  The Romans often referred to them as "northern Celts"

However, for the sake of clarity, I refer to them as Picts.  The term "Pictii" came from Latin used by the Romans, meaning people who painted (or tattooed) themselves.  As for ancient Scotland, it was called 'Caledonia', by the Romans, and 'Albann' by the Picts.  For the sake of clarity, I will call it Albann throughout, with the area of ancient Argyll referred to as Dalriada.

It should be noted here that ancient Argyle was effectively cut off from the rest of mainland Albann by a mountainous range which was the highest in Britain, and what little fertile land existed was well hidden at the upper reaches of lochs (fiords) which opened only to the west.  So, large scale interaction (between Dalriada and Albann) would have been accomplished only by ocean vessels.

Ancient Ireland was called "Hibernia" by the Romans, then "Scotia" from 400AD until about 600AD.

Language-Use of term "Fatherland" In the Pict Chronicles, the very first name that appears is "Brude Pant" (pronounced properly in English as prut-ap-ant, because, in Celtic, b is pronounced as p, and d is pronounced as t.  From our knowledge of Celtic, we can decipher this phrase.   Literally, it means: - "Our father-of the sons of-An".  The spiritual connotation being:  Our Fatherland.

Uniquely, originating in Keltic Germany, the homeland is referred to as the "father".  Subsequently, all Celts referred to their homeland as "Fatherland".  This spirituality was ingrained in their descendents, the Dutch, Basques, Spanish, Picts, Irish, and by most countries in Latin America, including most emphatically Argentina and Cuba (10% of the population of Argentina are Basque descendents, which included Eva Peron, Che Guevara, and three Presidents).

The term "fatherland" has its roots deep in the mists of the creation of several races in the uplands of ancient Germany; whereas all the Viking peoples (Norse, Danes, Swedes, Russ), and several north Germanic races (Franks, Jutes, Angles and Saxons), referred to their homelands as the motherland.

Of interest, other countries that refer to their homelands as "the Fatherland" are: Arab countries, Japan, Vietnam, Bulgaria, India, and many others I have not researched as yet..

To emphasize this, the Russians universally call their homeland "Mother" Russia.  The English (descendents of the Anglo-Saxons) use a mythical woman warrior to illustrate Britannia.  However, the descendents of the Celts, wherever they have not been usurped, use the term "Fatherland" to denote their homelands.

Alternately, if you don't buy these arguments; in P-Celtic, Fatherland becomes "Mamwlad" and there is no translation for "motherland" in neither Welsh nor Breton.

Linguistic Similarities to German- 

The Pict surname Wroid was pronounced froid, similar to German of today. Who and What are pronounced Fa and Fat in many parts of northern Scotland even today.

Appearance- The first historical records of the Picts were made by Greek sea-faring merchants, who described them as "Albiones", which means fair-skinned ones.  To be fair skinned means these people, as a coherent society, had spent millenniums in a northern climate, away from the darkening influence of the tropical or sub-tropical sun.  Therefore, they must have evolved in a northern Eurasian  milieu, probably northern Germany. and were considered by Bedes as having originally come from Scythia.  In German, both Scythian and Scottish are "Scutten".

Some historians referred to the Picts as descendents of the northern Celts, the "Cimbri".  It must be remembered that all Roman historians agreed the Celts were several races united merely by one tribal culture.

Tacitus identified the Pict racial type when he described them  as "reddish haired and long limbed".  This matches the description that Ammianus Marcellinus gave of the Celtic Gauls, and the Romans regarded the Gauls as the true Celts.

Cornelius wrote that the inhabitants of Caledonia have reddish hair and large loose-jointed bodies. They are like the Gauls or the Spaniards, according as they are opposite either nation.  Hence some have supposed that from these lands the island received its inhabitants, alluring them by its nearness.   All the people and their kings are alike wild.

Dio, a most celebrated writer of annals, wrote that they have all been combined under the names Caledonians and Maeatae. They live in wattled huts, a shelter used in common with their flocks, and often the woods are their home. They paint their bodies with iron-red, whether by way of adornment or perhaps for some other reason.  They often wage war with one another, either because they desire power or to increase their possessions. They fight not only on horseback or on foot, but even with scythed two-horse chariots, which they commonly call Essedae. 

One must ask oneself, why would an isolated 200BC equine culture exist in northern Briton, and even use two-horse chariots, when the closest thing that existed (or had) existed elsewhere was in Scythia 500 years earlier?  There simply must have been a connection.

Scythians decorated their bodies with blue designs, so did the Picts (refer to the first image below).  This custom was also reported as a feature of the Celtic peoples in England by Julius Caesar during his punitive raid there in 55 BC, 130 years before the Romans laid eyes on the Picts of northern Britain.

According to some historians, the Scythians were driven out of Scythia by the Sarmatians, a particularly fierce eastern nomadic Scythian sub-culture,  and, in turn,  drove the Cimbri, or northern Celts, before them.

Equipment- The Picts were a warrior society, typical of that of the Celts and the Scythians, due to necessity because of their long history of conflict.  It was recorded they doted on their horses, which were numerous. Their horse gear was decidedly Asiatic, and not patterned from that of any coincidental or earlier western European society.  Their inspiration was obviously from the east as related in the following quote from "The Celts" by T.G.E. Powell - "Their horse-gear is an elaboration of their predecessors from the east."   

It is known that in the epoch between 1000BC and 1000AD, waves of barbarians from the east drove many groups of peoples ever westward.  Ireland and Northern Britain would have been the two final stands for these far-flung Celts.  Here they would persevere in their ideal isolation, while their continental European cousins would fade into history, first becoming humiliated subjects of the Roman Empire, then, becoming overwhelmed by more sinister forces from the east, each wave more menacing than those preceding.

Customs- The Pict/Celtic/Scythian connection is proven.

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes) Pict society was of a decentralized tribal (or clan) type, typical of Celtic culture.  

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes)  Reliefs of Pictish warriors on Orkney gravestones are Scythian in appearance.
WB01542_.gif (729 bytes) 
Celtic art drew its inspiration from Scythia, especially about animal representation; i.e. Stylized beasts, abstract geometric decorations

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes) Pict wood burial chambers under a barrow were similar to that of the Scythians.

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes)  When the Scythian Empire was obliterated by nomadic Sarmatians (also a Scythian race), some refugees entered Styria, in present day Austria, lending their culture and superior equine skills to a blossoming Celtic civilization.

.An aristocratic Scythian couple on horseback, outfitted in their resplendent gold embroidery.  Note the blue tattooing on the man's arm.  Could this be the precursor of the Pict's tradition of tattoos?

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes)  Both Scythians and Picts had extreme equestrian cultures.  The Picts must have originated in a vast homeland where horses were a necessary means of transportation.  Not so in Scotland.

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes)  Trousers and woolen cloaks were worn by Picts and other Celts, which were especially convenient  when riding horses.   They were not derived from any Mediterranean people, nor from temperate Europe.  They were obviously inspired by horsemen of the cold eastern steppes

.A nightime raid by a Scythian war party, being led by a female warrior as was often the custom fo the Picts.

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes)  Both Pict and Scythian armies used women warriors as a norm.  This custom shocked other cultures, most notably (for our purposes of comparison) the enemies of the Picts in Britain.

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes)  Pict, Gaelic, and Scythian societies were agricultural/pastoral based, with each tribe engaged in its own food production.  Therefore, no large commercial centres were realized.

WB01542_.gif (729 bytes)  Celts achieved a standard in arts and crafts unparalleled amongst the ancient inhabitants of trans/Alpine Europe, rivaled only by their eastern neighbours and mentors, the Scythians.

What Of The Non-Celtic Names That Some Picts Used?

Agricola found Orcadians, living along the Forth divide, and Britons in Strathclyde, who sided with him against the Caledonii in 84AD.  The Romans called them 'Pretanii', which would later be anglicized to Britons. The Orcadians were remnants of earlier peoples who the Picts had subjugated.  Eventually, they were assimilated, but their influence remained in place-names and peoples' names, and the "peculiar" character of the Pict dialect of Celtic.  We know this because some Pict Kings were identified with pre-Celtic names, i.e. Canatulachama, Bliesblituth, Erp, and Usconbuts.  The Strathclyde Britons definitely spoke P-Celtic, as their Welsh brothers still do.

Conclusions: These factors confirm that Pictic origins were those of a northern Germanic Celtic race who were greatly influenced by Scythian culture.

What of Representations of Scythians who look Oriental?-

Those scattered remnants of the disintegrating Scythian Empire who fled westward would have intermarried with those they encountered, and their descendants' features would invariably have changed significantly.  Early Greek and Roman reports of Celts described them as swarthy.  Later reports described them as pale-skinned.  Even in early Albann, and later, in Scotland, many famous personalities were described as swarthy, while others as pale or sallow, indicating a mixture of races had taken place.

It always amazes me when I watch TV reports from Afghanistan, just how familiar the faces of the men there are to those of Europeans.  They certainly are not Oriental be any means. Take away the traditional Afghan garb and one can easily see the similarity of those far away "Caucasians" to traditional so-called "Aryan" or "Germanic" societies in the west.  Surely, it is not far-fetched to realize those Afghans are indeed our Caucasian cousins, and that the ancient Scythians could very well have looked more like us (and the modern Afghans) than some so-called "experts" realize.

Also, today's representations of Scythians are merely some artists' ideas of what they may have looked like, not necessarily an accurate reflection, because there are no verifiable descendants of the Scythians alive today.  - although some Roman historians, notably Cassiodorus (who wrote the only surviving history of: the united Goths, the western or Visigoths and the eastern or Ostrogoths), considered  them to be of Scythian descent.

Although humans began as black-skinned people in Africa, the origin of the non black-skinned "races" has actually only recently been  genetically traced to have originated somewhere near the Urals, possibly in Georgia or Azerbaijan, coincidentally the heart of the Scythian Empire.   From there, they scattered in all directions.

Although there are definitely dark-skinned Aryan people who colonized India, the middle east, and other more southern lands where their skin has darkened over the ages with increased exposure to the sun.  So, we know that over time, skin colour (pigmentation) of an identifiable group will gradually be affected by their exposure to the sun. 

However, for our purposes of determining the origins of the Picts, skin pigmentation can be useful if it only pertains to a population that has travelled from their relatively recent point of origin to Albann/Scotland within a time frame that is too short for the sun's rays to have had much of a darkening influence.

Therefore, some theorists have deduced that fair-skinned Picts originated in an area of Eurasia where similarly light-skinned populations emerged.  Thus, the theory that the Picts emerged from north Europe, (eg. the Cimbri or northern Celts).

Whether the dominate pale-skin of the Picts was genetically (racial) or geographically (exposure to the sun) induced, we may never know.  Today, dna comparisons are more useful in determining relationships between peoples, although even there, it is recognized that a group's dna will change in time due to geographical influences.

There is much supporting evidence that the Picts were an endemic people of the north of Scotland  - A mixture of the Ibero stone age migrants (who crossed into Britain about 4,000 BC) and the Beaker people (the Bronze age people who entered Britain about 4,000 BC).  The CP-Celtic language they spoke was probably picked up from P-Celtic speaking Britons who entered Scotland about 400 BC.

Who Were The Celts? Were they a Germanic race?- Historically, the original habitat of the "Keltoi" (as they were first designated) seems to have been central Germany, around the region of the upper Danube.  Keltoi, means "the hidden ones" in abbreviated Latin, and is due to their tendency to refrain from writing their language (for strangers to share).  During the first millennium BC, their territories seem to have expanded to a substantial size, absorbing many earlier cultures, across the whole of Western Europe.

Herodotus, writing around 445 BC, mentioned "The River Danube had its source in the land of the Keltoi, and as their numbers grew, they expanded outwards from the Upper Danube".  Figures in Irish mythology, such as the names of their gods and goddesses, reflect ancient Celtic" origins: i.e. The family of Irish gods known as the "Tuatha De Danaan"  meaning the family of bold An, comes from the same Celtic language that gave the enduring name to the River  Danube.  

By the 9th Century BC, the Celts were on the move, their expanding tribes conquered western continental Europe, and in the sixth Century BC, took the Iberian peninsula from the Basque/ Carthaginians. They took northern Italy from the Etruscans in the fourth century BC. The most outstanding achievement that the Celts obtained in this period was the capture of Rome after the battle of Allia in 390 BC.  The Celts were in possession of Rome for a year, and left only after a heavy fine had been extracted, a revenge for an earlier Roman treachery. 

In 280 BC, Celtic tribes destroyed all defending Greek armies and swept through Greece. In  279 BC the Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi was sacked. According to tradition, this act was carried out by 150,000 men and 15,000 horses.  Some Roman historians referred to these Celtic hordes as Scythians.  As far as ancient Celtic attitudes to life were concerned, one of the most famous incidents occurred in the reign of Alexander the Great.  In 334 BC, Alexander needed to protect his Greek territories from attack while he was campaigning in Asia.   In order to do so, he entered into a treaty with those Celts who lived by the Ionian Gulf.  When asked by Alexander what they valued most in life, the response was "The friendship of a man such as you".

Can the Roman observations of the Celts be relied on completely?  To answer that question, one has merely to refer to the Roman accounts of the Celtic  attacks on Rome and Greece.  Although these two events were separated by 110 years, the Romans referred to the Celtic leader in both campaigns as "Brennus".   It just happens that the Welsh (P-Celtic) translation for King is "Brenin", but not the Breton P-Celtic nor the Gaelic Q-Celtic.  This would suggest that the Gaulish language, in so far as "King" is concerned, influenced the Frank language (French) (i.e. Roi = King in French, Roue = King in Breton, and Righ = King in Gaelic).  Rex = King in Latin.  Or was the French word for King derived from the earlier Celtic civilization of Gaul?  This explanation is very likely as the earlier language would normally influence the latter one. 

It is universally accepted that the five modern Latin-derived language groups of Europe (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian) differ from the original Latin simply due to the assimilating effects of the Germanic hordes who settled in those lands; the Franks in Gaul, the Visigoths (western Goths) in Spain & Portugal, and the Ostrogoths (eastern Goths) in Italy and Romania.

However, the languages spoken by the preceding peoples in those 5 countries must also have had a significant influence on the hybrid languages that resulted.

Celtic Civilization & Languages-  By the 2nd Century BC, the Celts were in decline in mainland Europe, made up of many fiercely independent clans, rather than one homogeneous race.  With this dispersement of real power, local variations of speech gradually became new dialects, which made interaction between tribes even more difficult.  Living in agricultural societies, each settled area became self-sufficient, resulting in a fierce pride in the extended family, or clan

Celts were subject to intense inter-tribal rivalries - a remnant of which may lie in the root of well recorded internal Pict, Scottish, and Irish Clan warfare.  These rivalries seem to have necessitated the construction of fortified settlements such as Ring Forts (the Irish "Rath"), the north Briton Hilltop forts (Brochs), and south Briton fortified lakeside dwellings (Crannogs) - places which would offer protection in times of danger.  Although agricultural in nature, the Celts developed a warrior society, where every able-bodied man was obliged to do his part to defend the welfare of the extended family.  Their inability to unite different clans in times of crisis was duly noted by Agricola and others who fought them.

When a clan got too large to feed itself, a son would depart with his followers, with the father's blessing, for new horizons, and in this way, the Celts burgeoned forth across Europe.  They became seasoned travelers, with a yen for adventure, and settled in every part of Europe, also in parts of north Africa and Asia minor.  However, a price was paid in their family pride and self reliance, - they acquired different dialects which gradually severed their links with their ancestors.  They would be the last of the "tribal culture" peoples of Europe.

Unlike the Roman, Germanic and Slavic hordes who followed, the Celts did not eliminate or submerge communities in their path.  Celtic raiders harried their neighbours and thrust them aside but then traded with them, intermarried with them and taught them improved methods of iron forging.  The Gauls were middlemen who introduced horse drawn chariots, and metal working to northern Europe.

The oldest known Celtic settlement was found at Hallstatt, near Salzburg in Austria.  Dated to around the 750 - 400 BC period, the archeological findings show a culture well versed in Iron technology, unlike their Bronze Age predecessors, and a community involved in a high level of trade.  Findings have included pieces from the Baltic, Phoenicia, and even Oriental gold leaf work.  It was during this formative period that these Celts met others such as the Scythians from the east, who influenced their culture with more advanced skills in horsemanship, art, and religion.

Within their society, there appeared to have been a settled peasantry which supported the warriors and craftsman elite, through farming.  This peasantry may have comprised the remnants of the earlier Urnfield culture of Europe, as there is evidence of a  continuous occupation.  This pattern (of relying on an earlier community to support their food production) may have been inspired from the collapsing Scythian Empire, and would be repeated everywhere they settled, into ancient France, the Iberian peninsula, and on into Britain, northern Britain and Ireland.

It is supposed that the Hallstatt culture emerged in the Upper Danube regions in Austria, Bavaria and Bohemia, where the earliest Hallstatt graves have been discovered. This would support the statements by Herodotus, amongst others, that the Danube was the ancient homeland of the Celts.

In 1858, in Lake Neuchatel (present day Switzerland), a later Celtic settlement was discovered which was named the "La Tene" culture. The archeological evidence from this site revealed what appears to have been a far more advanced society than that found at Hallstatt. There are indications of major advances in iron technology and a significant increase in the wealth of the elite classes. This would support the theory that there had been significant progress in the status of the elite (i.e. the chiefs and their families).  This settlement was dated to around the 3rd century BC, and findings from this and other Celtic sites from this period have included elaborate naturalistic artwork, as well as Scythian and Greek objects.

The level of technological achievement by the Celts in this period is remarkable: Although the wheel had been a much earlier discovery, it was these later Celts who were responsible for its refinement into some of the most effective tools of the prehistoric period; i.e. four wheeled wagons and refined war chariots.  The richness of the artifacts found both here and at other contemporary sites, makes it appear that there was a substantial shift in the major centres of Celtic society from the Upper Danube region west to the Upper Rhine region. This would be consistent with the evidence of Celtic expansion into South West Germany, Switzerland and Burgundy during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC.

As in the periods of Celtic culture, Celtic languages can also be divided into two main groups that we are aware of: Q Celtic and  P Celtic.  P-Celtic languages are those languages where a "P" sound is used instead of the Gaelic "C" (with a "K" sound) - the (P-Celtic) Pen (Head) being equivalent to the Gaelic (Q Celtic) Ceann.

Celtic had many offshoots.  From the first few tribes of Celts in ancient Germany, offshoots flourished and spread across Europe.  The La Tene Celts who came to northwest France and Britain, spoke the same language.  It separated into several dialects as each branch established its own isolated society, including the ones we know of, which are Welsh, Breton, Manx (Isle of Man), Cornish, and  Pict.  Although Manx, Cornish, and Pictic are  now "dead" languages, Welsh and Breton are still very much alive as long as the people of Wales and Brittany continue to protect them as living languages.  

Scottish Gaelic descends from the Q-Celtic speaking Gaels (or Gaidheal) of Ireland.  According to Irish legends, their forebears were from the Celto-Iberian tribes of Spain and western France.  As such, these people would have been a racial mixture of both Celts and Iberians (Basques), and the resultant merging of those languages is the origin of Irish, and subsequently, the foundation of Scots Gaelic.  The early Basques are believed to have been the true descendents of Cro-Magnon tribes who developed in the Iberian peninsula.

However, when the Celts overran the Iberian peninsula, the Carthaginians had colonized the area and were the ruling caste.   After the Celts assimilated them, the region became a bastion of Celtic culture.

During the first millennium BC, early Celts left northern Spain and arrived in Ireland.  These were Hallstatters, who proceeded to settle chiefly in the west and south.  The early Celts who swept down the Atlantic coast and into the Iberian peninsula,  spoke Q Celtic.  Later, the Gaulish Celts in mainland western Europe, replace the "K" sound with a "P".  This language change did not affect the Ibero-Celts, although the Celts in mainland Britin (Britons) did change with the times.

A few samples of the development and subsequent variations of forms of the Celtic language can be derived by comparing Breton, Welsh, and Gaelic.  Latin is added to prove there is little resemblance between Breton and Latin, with the possible exception of some words such as land, which in Latin is "terra", and in Gaelic and Welsh is called "tir".  This may be a result of borrowing from the Latin as the original Celtic name for Land was "bro", as is still solely maintained in the older Breton version, and is lost entirely in Gaelic.  While in Welsh, tir is merely an alternative to bro.

Comparison of Breton/Welsh/Gaelic/Latin

English P-Celtic (Breton) P-Celtic (Welsh)  (Q-Celtic) Gaelic Latin
Head Penn Pen  Caenn caput
Dog ki  Ci (ki) Cu (ku) canis
Man Den Dynr Duine homo
Water Dour Drw burn aqua
Book Levr Llyfr Leabhar  liber
Goat Gavr (gawr) Gafr  Gobbar caper
Meat kig Cig (kig), bwyd biadh, feoil caro
Milk laezh llaeth bainne, sugh-luibhean lac
Boat Bag, Bad, cwch Bata, sgoth, eitheir  linter, navis
Country Bro Bro, tir, gwlad tir, duthaich regio, terra
King Roue Brenin Righ Rex
Horse March March, ceffyl, hors Marc-shlaugh, each equus
fatherland mammvro mamwlad (no translation) patria

The above words are colour-coded to illustrate their relationships to each other.  Black words mean they are related to Breton.  Blue words are those related only between Welsh and Gaelic.  Red words are those that are not related to any other living Celtic language, and are either the result of infiltration from an earlier race of inhabitants, or was derived from an earlier Celtic dialect which was lost by other Celtic groups.  A complete list of  alternate meanings are not included.  The Picts, Welsh, Cornish and Manx spoke a similar language, as they were, in Julius Caesar's time, the same people.  Irish and Scottish Gaelic, on the other hand, evolved from an earlier assimilation of Carthaginian/Basque in the Iberian peninsula, and later, a similar assimilation of earlier Irish inhabitants.

A quick glance at the above chart illustrates that there were some common names used by the Scots and the Picts that were different from those used by the parent Bretons.  It must be remembered that for thousands of years Celtic was not written, as it was a religious duty to keep it secret from foreigners.  So the pronunciation is more important than the actual spelling.  Those words in parenthesis are the way it is pronounced.

The unique similarities between Gaelic and the P-Celtic of the Welsh (and Picts) was due to the regular contact between those peoples, both from the Cruithne in northern Ireland and of the Scots in Albann.  It must be remembered that Strathclyde, the new homeland of the northern Welsh, is an integral part of Scotland.  There is even a lingering theory that Dumbarton was once the Capital of all Albann.  This theory make sense as the climate in the far south-west of Scotland is near sub-tropical and that of the far north is sub-Arctic.

How Rome Destroyed Celtic Civilization -

In 55 BC, Roman legions under Julius Caesar finally conquered the last of the 'barbarian' Celtic tribes of western Europe.  With this milestone achievement, the Romans began a methodical extermination of all those who could conceivably constitute a future threat to Roman domination.  After massacring those who refused to join the Roman army as shock troops, they started with the various Kings and tribal Chiefs, then moved on to the religious authorities, the Druids.  All the above were ruthlessly executed.  Their families were enslaved and taken to Rome.  Over one million Celts were enslaved and never heard of again.  The remaining leaderless population was 'Romanized' into a supplicant pale copy of their Imperial masters.

All political power resided in Rome, whereas the provinces, as with Gaul, merely existed to serve the greater glory of Rome.  Roman Governors were appointed to rule in various Roman provinces for a fixed term, in which they indulged in accumulating as much booty as possible to serve them in their retirement.  The Celts who were allowed to live in Gaul, were 'domesticated' to become shallow imitations of their Roman masters, and pawns of Roman politics.  Miniature replicas of Rome were built throughout the Empire, and the Roman lifestyle was emulated everywhere from Bath to Babylon.

When Julius Caesar overthrew the Republic and created the Roman Empire, the seeds of its destruction were planted.  As corruption in high places seeped down through the bueurocracy, the Roman army, the pillar of its existence, began to disintegrate.  Huge plantations replaced the traditional farming society of Italy.  Consequently, free men who had constituted the bulk of the greatest army the world had ever known, became disenfranchised and drifted to Rome to become vagrants, criminals, and parasites.

The Imperial Roman army was left to recruit tough foreigners to bolter its ranks.  It began to depend more and more on the Auxiliaries, the shock troops of foreigners.  Many Germans were recruited and eventually a German actually became Emperor.  Political offices were bought and sold.   The original spirit and genius of the Roman Republic gave way to disintegration and decay from within.

When uncontrollable hordes of Teutons in eastern Europe demanded safe haven within the Empire from their tormentors, the Huns, the collapse of Roman authority in northern Europe began to accelerate.  To rationalize their strength, all Roman Legions were withdrawn from Britain by 453 AD.  The gates were now open for the new barbarians to enter.

Like so many docile oxen, the 'domesticated' Celts of western Europe were annihilated.  The Visigoths took the Iberian peninsula, the Franks took Gaul, and the Angles, Jutes and Saxons overwhelmed south Britain including the south-east corner of Albann.   In their heyday, the Celts had kept these 'other Germans' at bay, but now that their fire was gone, they succumbed to these new barbarians.

The only Celts who held their ground, and maintained their ancestral "fiery spirit" were those at the fringe of the old Empire; the unconquered Picts of north Britain and Wales, the Irish in their island fortress, those in the wilds of the head (Caenn) of the peninsula of Brittany in north-eastern Gaul, and the Basques of north-western Spain.  Other small isolated pockets lingered on for a few hundred years in Cornwall and on the Isle of Man, but they were eventually overwhelmed by the Teutons of the new 'Angle' land. 

The Picts in Albann, who had fought a successful 300 year guerilla war against the Romans, and the Irish in Scotia, who had never been attacked, became the new centres of Celtic culture.  Now they would be left to work out their destinies in their splendid isolation, and in their inter-relationships with each other.  Under the pressures of marauding Saxons, the Vikings, and finally the English, the Irish would eventually be the only Celtic nation on the planet to survive intact, and eventually shake off foreign (Germanic) domination in 1917.

The long term effect of the Roman onslaught on Caledonia was a weakening of the north Briton Picts and rendering them susceptible to succeeding pressures of the Saxons, Irish and Vikings.

Y-DNA Testing -

Recent y-dna testing has proven the Gaels are more closely related to the Basques of northern Spain, and to the Berbers of North Africa than any other racial stock in Europe. The non-Arab Berbers being recognized as a remnant population of descendents of the original Carthaginians, who the Celts had overwhelmed and assimilated on their way to Ireland.

Carthaginian and Greek traders knew the Irish and the Picts

The common Greek name for Ireland was "Ierné".  Avienus said in the fourth century BC, "The race of the Hierni inhabits the island far and wide. The island of the Albiones lies near, and the Tartessians (Carthaginians) were accustomed to carry business to the end of the Oestrymnides (Cornwall)."

The "Dalriadic Scots"-

The Origins of the Irish Picts "Cruithne" (from the Gaelic word for creator = "Cruithear")  During the later waves of Celtic expansion, more advanced la Tene Picts invaded Britain, from France.  They spread over the whole of Britain and assimilated the earlier inhabitants in typical Celtic fashion.  They invaded Ireland via Albann, and the Scottish myth is they become known to the earlier inhabitants of Ireland as "S'goth" (cloud dwellers), since they come from the land of the Mountains (Albann), although a quick check of a Gaelic dictionary indicates these strangers were really called "boat people", as goth in Gaelic means boat, and S' in Gaelic is the suffix meaning "attached to".  So the "S'goth" would be "those of the boats" (or boat people).

These advanced  Celts brought their own traditions and beliefs with them, including symbols of kingship, and incorporated some of those of the earlier inhabitants.  Their initial settlements in Ireland concentrated in the north, and the various Cruithne tribes eventually organized themselves into a northern confederation known as the Ulaid.  As Celtic tribes from other parts of Britain and Europe gradually settled in the South of Ireland and intermingled with each other, there arose a  clear background to the north-south conflicts so well recorded in the legends of early Ireland.  

The Creation of Dalriada in Ireland  There was a medieval claim that the ancient Scots were a combination of Irish and Pict tribes, and there is more than enough archeological evidence to support this.  Intermarriage continued until Scots and Picts in some locales were indistinguishable.

A Pict tribe, called the "Epidi" (horse people in Latin), settled in Ulster during the latter period of the migration of La Tene tribes from Celtic Europe.  One group  settled in Kintyre, while another group settled in Munster (see Cairbre Riada, 3 paragraphs down).  As contacts with Albann increased through trade, and with cyclic periods of expanding population and famines troubling Munster in the years preceding the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, Pict tribes such as the Dumnoni and the Epidi found it necessary to emigrate and amalgamate with other groups. The Epidi became known to the other inhabitants of Ireland as "Cruithne" after a mythological founder of the Picts/Orcadians.

One group of Picts headed back across the Irish Sea to Strathclyde in the very south west of Albann, another expanded further north in Ireland to Antrim, where after mixing with local tribes they became known as the Robogdi, and were traditionally known as "Chiefs of the Horse tribe".  This title was a combination of: Ri derived from "Roue" the P-Celtic word for chief, and obogdi, a local variation of Epidi = the horse people (as the La-Tene Celts remained an equine-based society, even in mountainous Albann).  During the Roman invasions of Albann of 82 - 90 AD, the leaders of the Epidi in Strathclyde decided to find a safe haven in Ireland and returned to mix with their near relatives in Munham (now Munster), bringing Ulster and Pict relationships even closer together.

Ireland, at that time, was a turbulent place, as the Cruithne and non-Cruithne, (north and south),  were  struggling for living space.  Occasionally, the powerful Pict war machine in Albann was called upon for assistance in shoring up the northern Irish base.  We know of these conflicts because they are well reported in the Pict Chronicles.  The area occupied by the Cruithne roughly matched the area now known as Ulster.  Despite their sporadic conflicts, the Cruithne, non-Cruithne, and earlier peoples of Ireland intermingled until they gradually spoke a single language, although with many local dialects, referred to today as Gaelic (or Q-Celtic).

In Northern Ireland ... the petty kingdom of Dalriada came to exist.  Cairbre Riada, supposedly a descendant of the mythical Tuathal, had settled his people first in Munster, but famine caused him to abandon this land. He established a petty kingdom between the Antrim Mountains and the sea.  He obtained this territory between 254 and 273 AD.

The word `Riada', or `Righfadna', means `the long-armed'.  Cairbre Riada was a nobleman of high parentage.  His father was Conaire II, local "King" or Chief of the Province of Ulster from AD212 to 220, and his mother was a daughter of the illustrious warrior king, Conn of the Hundred Battles.  The centre of his kingdom was the ancient Dunseverick Castle set on a great rock outcropping rising sheer from the Atlantic in the strongest defensive position of Ireland's northern coast.   Dal' means `descendants' and in a secondary sense `the territory of the descendant'. The word `Dalriada'  therefore signifies 'the territory of the descendants of Cairbre Riada.

The Creation Of a Second Dalriada, In Albann

In the 4th and 5th centuries AD, ferocious sea-raiders, based in Ireland, took full advantage of a weakening Roman Empire, which was preoccupied with unmanageable hordes of Germanic tribes seeking refuge within the Roman Empire, from even fiercer hordes of Huns.   These Irish-based raiders pillaged the Romanized western coast of Britain, and  were called "Scotti" by the Romans, a derisive term which implied "sea raiders".   This was the first known use of the term "Scot", and it stuck.  Henceforth Ireland became known on Roman maps as "Scotia" for over 2 centuries.  The name Scot first appeared in the writings of Claudius who described them as allies of the Picts.

Cairbre Riada's heir, Eochach Dubhlein, married a Pictish princess, a daughter of the Albann King, Obdaire. She bore him three sons, known in legend as the `three Collas'. The oldest, Colla Uais, aspired to the High Kingship of Tara but was defeated by a cousin.  He and his brothers fled to Albann (possibly to Colonsay) the homeland of his wife and in-laws.  In due time, they returned to Ireland where they won swordland and founded a Kingdom called Oriel.

Cairbre Riada's descendants ruled the coast area of Antrim (in northern Ireland) until Colla Uais's grandson, Erc of Irish Dalriada, died.  Erc had twelve sons, the three youngest being Fergus, Lorne and Angus (English spelling).  About the year 502 AD, Fergus, with Lorne and Angus, were possibly exiled from Dalriada, and led an expedition to the western coast of mainland Briton.

Myth Versus Records of the "Irish Annals"-

Scottish Mythical Tradition -

According to Scottish tradition, Fergus (Uurgus in Pict), Lorne (Lann in Pict), and Angus (Onnus in Pict) successfully settled the area now known as Argyll and some of the islands including Islay.  It was not recorded but highly likely that they had the blessing of their mother's kin, the local Pict authorities.  Thus the "Scottish" settlement in Argyll was founded by the three sons of Erc, who were all descended from Picts, and their mother was of a Royal Pict family.  They and their followers came to colonize the south-west Highland fringe known as Dalriada or "Ar gyll", an acronym meaning 'our (land of the) Gael'.  These expellee colonizers were probably mostly men, and they naturally sought local Pict women as wives.

As the mother usually named a family's children, they were often given Pict names, and the Gaelic father merely spelled the name the way it sounded to him (eg. "Uurgist" sounded like Fergus in both Pict and Gaelic, much as it does in modern day German).  In this way, many Gaelic names were originally merely phonetic translations of older Pict names.

As generations passed, Dalriadan Scots gradually became more ethnically Pict than Irish.  Fergus established himself as a (minor) king over this area which came to be known as the Second Dalriada (the first being in Ireland).  It must be remembered that in those days, the title of king merely meant chief.   Pict Kings knew full well, because of the mountainous nature of their country, and the semi-isolation of its far flung settlements, that strong regional sub-kings (governors) meant a stronger, more resilient people, as long as they were loyal to their High King in Abernethy.  So, the King of Albann,  allowed local chiefs to settle their "petty" squabbles by the sword.

In this way, Dalriadic Scots, who were related to Pict nobility through the female side, and who had considerable influence in high places, could often seize territory from their Pict neighbours with an approving nod from the high King.  Only when the loyalty of any provincial kings came into question, did the central authority interfere in local matters.   This attitude by the central Albann monarchy towards regional (or Clan) feuds continued to some extent, until the union of the Scottish and English crowns under James VI, at which time, he had no further use of any strong independent Highland Clans.  This abrupt change in policy would have a devastating effect on Clan Gregor, and would result in its proscription, to be set as a horrific example to other "unruly" clans. 

Fergus chose as the centre of his small kingdom, a site on a hillock known as Dunadd.  Dunadd was the capital of Dalriada for about 345 years.  This was the seat of Fergus Mac Erc and legend tells us he brought with him from Ulster the Lia Fiall - Jacob's Pillow - a phallic symbol, later to be known as the Stone of Destiny.  A hillock and a rock are all that remain.  Historians believe that this was the place where Dalriadic (Scottish) kings were crowned; that St. Columba crowned Aidan here in 574 AD using the Stone of Destiny as the throne.      

Through their Pict Royal family connections, the sons of Erc became famous Pict warriors.  From the Ercs, came a Pict dynasty that ruled the southern Pict Kingdom (similar to what Alpin did 300 years later), until Domnhall Brecc lost the overlordship to Owain ap Urien, another claimant to the Pictish throne, (and a 100% Pict).  Reference is made to "The subjection to strangers" mentioned in Adomnan's life of Columba), in 643 AD.

This rendition of history is quite favorable to the Scots.  If true, the reason this Erc dynasty did not result in a Scottish dominated Albann was due to the far stronger presence of the Picts at that time.  The Scots were more of a curiosity than a threat.

The Irish Annals Rendition -

However, according to the Irish Annals, Fergus Erc's son held part of Briton, western lowland area known as Strathclyde,  and died there. 

This is the "Part" of Briton referred to in the Irish Annals - which probably explains why the annals do not say that the sons of Erc added to the territories of Irish Dal Riada, or founded Scottish Dal-RiadaDum-Barton is the likeliest capital of the Part of Briton held by the sons of Erc.

This is the reason that explains why the Dal-Riadic king Aidan (d. 606 AD) had to fight the Meathi, (probably from the same name origin as the Irish County Meath).  They included the Irish-Scots inhabitants of Strathclyde.  As early as the 2nd century AD, Roman writers testified to the "Meatae" (Meathi) Picts, being a combination of North British tribes (Irish and local Picts) who had merged.

The Meathi were probably made up of the Irish Gaelic (Scots) tribes including the tribes of Mund (Dumnoni) and Gnith (the Novantae), from which their name probably derives. It was through Strathclyde that the Pictish/Scottish coalition ruled, and it was Aidan who fought with the Meathi and besieged the Pictish fort "Craig Phadraig" at Dumbarton.

It was Aidan that overthrew his cousin Breide Mac Mael Con, and it is Aidan who is referred to in Welsh legends as the treacherous because of this coup, carried out at Dumbarton. This is why the people of Strathclyde refer to Dumbarton as the ancient capital of Scotland, simply because it was at least the capital of North Briton from the early sixth century onwards.

What Happened To The Picts-

The Columban Church Makes Alba the Envy of Europe-  Ancient Albann, comprising the northern Pict kingdom, the southern Pict kingdom, and Scottish Dalriada, at the end of the seventh and the opening of the eighth century, was the most Christian and civilized jurisdiction in Europe.  Their Christianity, unlike that of most continental countries at that period, was drawn from the Bible, and was of the kind which goes to the roots of individual and national life.  Instead of expending itself in elaborate rites and ceremonies, it developed in the quiet and enriching virtues of purity, truth, industry, and sobriety—a true civilization.

Iona, in Dalriada, the ritual centre of the Columban  Church, had for a century and a half been shedding its evangelical light over the entire country.  Five generations had been reared under it.  The land was fairly planted with churches. The pastors who ministered in them were well trained in Divine learning, and were a race of pious, humble, laborious, and, in many instances, studious and scholarly men.  The education of youth was cared for in Latin as well as Celtic.
The population, happily relieved from the distractions of war, cultivated the arts of the time, both ornamental and useful. The same men who interpreted scripture to them taught them how to use the pen and the chisel, how to construct their dwellings and cultivate their fields. The sons of princes and nobles were proud to enroll themselves as pupils in the school of Iona.
Scholars from abroad came to visit a land that had become so famous, that they might increase their stores of knowledge; and kings when dying commanded that their bones should be transported across the North Sea, ferried over to the island of Icolmkill, and laid beneath the shadow of its saintly towers.

A Papal Envoy Sows Discord in Alba-  Soon after the opening of the eighth century, this fair picture was deformed by sudden tempests.  Who or what was it that set Pict against Pict, and Scot, at times, against both?  That age in Albann was not barbarous: on the contrary, it was pious and peaceful; this being the fifth generation which had given the plough the preference over the sword, and cultivated peace rather than war with their neighbours.This Alba was before the union of Dalriada and Alba, which happened several times before Alpin's time.

These disturbances had a religious origin, and they grew out of the visit of the papal envoy, Boniface, to the court of King Nehhtonn of the Southern Picts, and his ridicule of the Columban Church.  He was successful in convincing Nehhtonn to convert to the Holy Roman Church, and to expel all pastors, monks and abbots from his Kingdom on their refusal to have their heads shorn in the Roman fashion or to accept the Roman date for Easter.   Nehhtonn's attempts to impose, at the sword’s point, submission to the foreign Papal authority on the pastors of the church, wrought dissention among his own Kingdom of the southern Picts and tore apart the unity of spirit that had existed between the southern and northern Picts.

Nehhtonn (Nechtan in Gaelic), a religious man, decided to retire to the seclusion of a monastery to escape the tempest he had created.  Unfortunately, he kept on interfering in politics, eventually emerging to back up an Alpin MacHugh, a half Pict, and claimant to the Pict throne.  Onnust I defeated him and sent him fleeing across the Irish sea.  Nehhtonn is said to have died of a broken heart. 

At this time, there was a great political revolution within Albann apart from the troubles to which the expulsion of the non-compliant clergy across Drumalban into Dalriada may have given rise.  The two great divisions of the Picts, north and south, burst into sudden flame, arraying themselves in arms against each other, followed by a century of strife and bloodshed.Representation of a Pict warrior with axe and knife

There was no political occurrence which could have so suddenly and violently disrupted the bonds between the northern and southern Kingdoms except in the change of religion in southern Albann.  It divided them into two churches. The Picts of the northern kingdom continued their loyalty to Iona. Their pastors continued to feed their flocks as before, preaching the evangelical faith of Columba, whereas those in the south  had superficially forsaken the faith of their fathers for Roman rites and doctrines, and wore the coronal tonsure in token of their submission to Papal authority.

The animosities and hatreds which this great secession provoked, resulted in civil war.  The crisis was rendered more acute as it imperiled the political independence of the country as well.  It opened the door to invasion from Northumbria, with whom the southern Picts had become one in their religious rites; and ambitious chiefs on both sides, under pretext of religious or patriotic aims, sought to enlarge their territories or acquire greater personal authority.

Scots Attain Supremacy in the Columban Church  The Scots never fell away from Iona, and they naturally sympathized with their co-religionists in the northern kingdom, and supported them throughout these civil wars against their Romanized countrymen in the south.

The sudden and unexpected reappearance of King Nehhtonn from the monastery to which he had retired, the moment he saw a chance of recovering his throne, is also suggestive of the religious element in these complications, and shows that the foreign monks were pulling the wires that plunged the Pict tribes into murderous internecine war.

Now to pick up the line of Kings at 729AD to understand the background of the conditions that allowed the Scots to usurp the Pictic throne.  Some historians consider that the Picts were assimilated by the Scots, others believe that the Picts merely began calling themselves Scots.

Onnust IThe Picts were a warrior society, and spent most of their time either plotting against, or fighting their enemies, either strangers or family, for the right to rule over their subjects.

Onnust defeated all contenders to his throne; first the retired King Nehhtonn, as well as Nehhtonn's son Drust, whom he killed in battle in 729.  He then turned his attention to the Scottish problem.  He laid waste to the Scottish fortresses of Dunnadd and others.   After brutalizing the Scots on British soil, he invaded Ireland.

He massacred them in their ancestral homeland by defeating them in two great battles in 741 and annexed northern Ireland to Albann.  He captured and drowned the King of Atholl, conquered the remaining Dalriadic Scots in mainland Britain, and after beheading the Scottish king, became the first King of Picts, Irish and Scots.

Flushed with victory over the troublesome Scots, and believing he was invincible, Onnust moved south in 744 and attacked the Britons of Strathclyde, [the Celtic Kingdom formed south of the old Roman (Hadrian's) wall.]  He defeated them in open conflict but they retreated to their impregnable rock fortress of Dumbarton.

In 750AD, Onnus's brother, Talorggan,  returned and fought the Britons again whereby both Talorggan and the Briton king, Tewdor,  were killed.   With the Britons still holding Dumbarton,  the Picts were forced to retreat.

In 756AD, Onnus returned with a powerful Northumberland ally intent on destroying the Strathclyde kingdom.  The combined armies nearly succeeded in destroying the great rock fortress, but in a stunning reversal. they were nearly destroyed in a battle. Onnus retreated north where he died five years later.  Onnus had ruled for 31 years and had raised Albann to new heights of power and prestige.

With a succession of weak kings in Albann, the Scots in Dalriada had forty years to gather their strength under the leadership of Aed Finn.   By 768AD, he was invading adjacent Pict territories again.  A Pict fleet of 150 warships was destroyed in a freak storm near Ross Crussini, in a vain effort to suppress the new Viking menace in the north.   Aed Finn managed to repeal Pict laws in 768AD, and by the time of his death, the Scottish enclave of Dalriada was independent again. 

Cystennin II (Causantin in Gaelic) Brings Columba's Relics to Dunkeld, and Severs the Scots' Ties With Ireland

It is now the opening of the ninth century, and Constantine, able and patriotic beyond the measure of other sovereigns of his age and country, was on the throne of the southern Picts.  

Cystennin II Mac Áeda (anglicized Constantine) was king of a united Albann from 900 to 943. He was the son of Áed mac Kináeda and first cousin of the previous ruler, Domnall mac Castantin.  Castantin won the Pict throne by killing Conall, who had ruled for 35 years as the second King of Picts and Scots.  

When the church of Iona was repeatedly plundered and burned by Norsemen, church elders took what relics that remained back to Ireland where they were relatively safe.  King Castantin immediately laid the foundations of a new mother church in the realm of the southern Picts.   This policy of Castantin, in founding Dunkeld, was plainly one of conciliation.  He wanted the good will of the majority of his subjects, who had not yet been brought to believe that Easter was more honoured by being kept on this day rather than on that, and the chief glory of a pastor lay not in the depth of his piety, but in the form of his hair style.

The act was a virtual revocation of the earlier ban pronounced against the Columban clergy by King Nehhtonn, and a virtual permission to the extruded shepherds to return and feed their former flocks. Some—perhaps many—did, doubtless, return, and found admission into the heritages and livings which their predecessors, a century before, had been forced to vacate.

The so-called "Pictish chronicle" clearly indicated this relocation of the supreme church as one of the great causes of the fall of the southern Pict monarchy.  So long as both branches of the Columban church, the Irish and the Dalriadic Scots, were governed from one centre, Iona, the Scots  felt they were one with the Irish, being linked to them by the most sacred of all bonds, their one church.  

However, when that bond was broken by the erection of two separate parent institutions, the Scots doubtless felt that they were alone as a church, and as a nation, and that henceforth, their agenda must be exclusively driven towards acquisition of influence in the country where they had fixed their abode, Albann.

Cystennin reigned for thirty years, dying in A.D. 820.  He was succeeded by several kings whose reigns were so short, and whose actions were so obscure, that their names hardly deserve mention.  By this time, considerable Scottish blood was included in the Pictish Royal family.  Cystennin was succeeded by his brother, Onnust II, who is reputed to have brought the relics of St. Andrew back to Albann.

Pict Power Wanes & Alpin Seizes Power in the Southern Kingdom

Onnust II was followed by Drust and then Talorc.   Talorc was listed as King of both the Picts and the Scots.  He was killed in a battle against the new menace in the north, the giant Norse Vikings, who averaged six feet tall (appearing seven feet tall by today's standards).. This shattering defeat and the decimation of the Pict warrior class severely weakened the Pict establishment.

The two Pict kingdoms had, for some time, been on the decline.  When the southern and northern Picts were united, and one king ruled Albann from the Firth of Forth to the Pentland, the Picts were a powerful people.  Their numbers, and the surpassing bulk of their territory, quite over-whelmed the Scots in their little Dalriada, the Britons in Strathclyde, and the Anglo-Saxons in their south-eastern abode of Lothian.

Nevertheless, Scots had heavily infiltrated Pict Royal families, and racial lines became blurred as Scot after Scot took high ranking Pict wives.  Noble Pict families disappeared as their daughters married Scots, and their sons became Monks.  With each defeat of Pict armies by marauding Vikings, the Scots became bolder.

From the day that Columba arrived on the western shore and kindled his lamp on Iona, the disproportionate clerical influence of little Dalriada was established The moral influence which radiated from Iona, and the scholars it sent forth, gave power at home and influence abroad to the Scots, despite their tiny kingdom.

At this juncture the male line of the great King Onnust, became extinct, and the throne was claimed by Alpin MacAchaius, a half Pict, (named by his mother in the Pict tradition) and bearing a Pict name.  Achaius's wife was a sister of Onnust I.  Thus Alpin, the claimant of the Pict throne, a Scot by his father’s side and a Pict by his mother’s, fulfilled the genetic requirements of both the Scot and Pict traditions.  He advanced his claim in A.D. 832.

Pict & Scot Churches unite to become the Church of Albann, (later, the Church of Scotland)

The conciliatory policy of Castantin, was followed by Kenneth MacAlpin, when he brought the bones of St. Columba to consecrate the new church at Dunkeld—a ceremony which, he must have judged, would gratify his Pict subjects, and tended to consolidate his control over them.

Nor was this all, Alpin took a still more decided step in the same direction. He placed the Abbott of Dunkeld over the church of all Picts and Scots.  This was to completely undo the work of Boniface, and to restore the supremacy of the independent Columban Church over the whole of Albann.

The peace and quiet in which this clerical revolution was accomplished may be accepted as proof that the influence of the Roman church had not gone very deep among the southern Picts, who had refused to yield their true faith to the novelties which the Roman missionary had brought with him.

Moreover, there was a party among the Picts themselves, who from community of faith favoured the Scottish succession.  As the result of these concurring causes there had come to be a crisis in the Pict supremacy. 

The Pictish sceptre could not be grasped by the Scot/Pict Alpin until after several bloody battles.  The greater people were not likely to yield up the rule to the lesser without bringing the matter to a trial of strength on the battlefield.  The first encounter between the two armies took place at Restennet, near Forfar.

When night closed the battle, the uncertain victory was claimed by Alpin; but even this doubtful success had cost him dearly, for a third of his army lay on the field. The Pict king was among those slain, but the Picts notified that they did not hold the death of their monarch as deciding the issue of the war, for they quickly proceeded to elect another in his stead.

The second battle was fought in the neighbourhood of Dundee.  It was the Picts who triumphed in this fight, and they won the battle by a stratagem similar to that which Robert Bruce employed four hundred and eighty years later at Bannockburn.  The camp attendants were instructed to mount the baggage horses and make their appearance on the heights around the field when the combatants should be in the thick of the fight.

This make-believe second army advancing to the aid of the Picts threw the Scots into panic. They broke and fled: Alpin and his principal nobles were taken captive on the field. The nobles were slain on the spot but Alpin was reserved for more ignominious execution. With all ransom being refused for him, he was bound, led away, and beheaded, and his head, fixed on a pole, was carried in triumph around the army. This barbarous exhibition over the gory trophy was stuck up on the walls of the southern Pict capital at Abernethy.

The Role of The Vikings in Weakening Pict Power

Picts were enslaved as early as the first century BC.  Varro, a Roman philosopher stated in his agricultural manuscripts that white slaves were only things with a voice or instrumenti vocali.

Pope Gregory in the sixth century first witnessed blonde hair, blue eyed boys awaiting sale in a Roman slave market.  Pope Gregory was very interested in the looks of these boys therefore asking their origin.  He was told they were from Briton.

The eighth to the eleventh centuries proved to be very profitable for Rouen, France.  Rouen was the transfer point of "Irish" and Flemish slaves to the Arabian nations.  In the early centuries AD, Pict and Scot slaves were passed off as Irish.  The major suppliers of slaves in the eleventh century were the Vikings.  They spirited many ‘Irish’ to Spain, Scandinavia, Constantinople, and even Russia.

Ruth Mazo Karras wrote in her book, “SLAVERY AND SOCIETY IN MEDEIVEL SCANDINAVIA” pg. 49; Norwegian Vikings made slave raids not only against the Irish and Picts but also against Norse settlers in Ireland and the Scottish Isles, and even in Norway itself…slave trading was a major commercial activity of the Viking Age.  Children of the White slaves in Iceland were routinely murdered en masse. (Karras pg 52).

Norse Vikings established trading outposts in Ireland, such as Dubhlein and Belfast that owed their existence to the trade in Pict slaves from raids on the mainland.  With uncontested mastery of the seas, the Norse Vikings raided small Pict seaside settlements at will, and often carried off most of the local population.  As late as 800AD, the Norse differentiated between the Scots and Picts, as they referred to the Dalriadan Gaels as Scots and to the Picts as Picts.  It is obvious from Norse records, they considered the Picts fair game and did not harass the Scots to the same extent.

The Picts lost the Faroes, the Shetland, and Orkney islands, the Outer & Inner Hebridies and vast areas of the west and north coasts.  Those who ruled these islands claimed loyalty to the Norwegian King but they were in reality, independent, and established de-facto Kingdoms of Norse/Scots, who, in the Hebridies,  became known as the "Lords of the Isles".  It would not be until the 12th century that Scotland's Kings were finally able to bring these territories back into the Scottish fold. 

Danish Vikings appeared on the Albann shores and vied with their fearsome giant Norse cousins to plunder and terrorize the Christian Picts.  When Northern Picts, Southern Picts and Dalriadic Scots combined into one fighting force, they could beat off the Vikings, but separately, they faired poorly.

Faced with these conditions, the three elements united, but after their victories, they often fell apart only to be harassed again.  The Pict elite had become so intermingled with Scots that it became difficult to find a pure Pict aristocrat.  The powerful Pict families were becoming blurred in their loyalties.

After the Pict victory over Alpin, there followed a few years’ cessation in the war.  Elated by their victory, the Picts broke out into fiercer dissensions among themselves than ever.  It happened, about this time, that they were assailed by Danish Vikings, and one of their most powerful tribes all but exterminated.  Thus the Scots had respite, and were able to rebuild their strength.

The Picts understood that now they must unite with the less numerous but more ferocious Scots, (who had been extensively inter-marrying with the Picts).  The pendulum of control swung over to the Scots who were ruled by a three-quarters Pict, Kenneth MacAlpin.  With the cream of Pictic warrior/aristocracy gone, the throne was offered to Kenneth, who had a claim of succession under Pict custom through his Pict mother.

The Picts were not conquered by the Scots, they were disrupted by the Vikings, and sought an alliance with the Scots, which eventually, due to the Scots' inherent cunning and treachery, was their undoing.

The View From Clan Donald "Lords of the Isles"

"After the evacuation of Britain by the Romans, the country north of the Firth of Forth was occupied by a Pictish people designated the "Albann Gael", whom historians agree were of the same race as the Cruithne of Ireland, and whose language was a type of modern Scottish Gaelic.  This people probably came first to Scotland between 500 BC and 300 BC.

To the south-west, the Scots of Dalriada occupied part of Argyll, and the country of Mull, Islay, and the Southern Isles. The Albann Gaels or Picts, north of the Forth, were divided into the Northern Picts, who held the country north of the Grampians, and the Southern Picts. When, in 844, the Dalriadic Scots and Southern Picts were united in one kingdom by Kenneth MacAlpin, the Northern Picts remained unaffected by the union.

Included in the territory occupied by these Picts, or Albann Gael, were the Western Islands, known to the Gael as Innse-Gall, or the Island of the Strangers, which later formed part of the dominion of the Kings of the Isles, progenitors of the Clan Donald.   In these early days, the Islands were constantly ravaged by the Norsemen and the Danes, who kept the whole western seaboard in a state of perpetual turmoil.

When Harold, the Fair Haired, in the year 875, declared himself King of the whole of Norway, many of the small independent jarls, or princes, of that country refused to acknowledge his authority, and fled to the Innse-Gall, or Western Isles.  Harold pursued them, and conquered the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, Shetlands, and Orkneys.  The year following this conquest, the Isles rose in rebellion against Harold, who sent his cousin Ketil to restore order; but Ketil exceeded his authority, and declared himself King of the Isles, being followed by a succession of Norse/Scot Kings, until the Isles were finally retaken by Scotland."

Editor's note:  So, these Clan Donald records claim the Picts and Scots spoke the same language "a type of modern Scottish Gaelic" (not P-Celtic).

Picts Fight Internally & Lose the Succession

Kynwyd macElpin (Kenneth MacAlpin), the son of the fallen Alpin, was placed on the Dalriadic throne.  He was crowned with a plain circlet of gold in AD843 in the Pict tradition, and proclaimed Rex Pictorum. The young monarch was naturally desirous to prosecute the quarrel against the southern Picts, and his ambition to enlarge his realm by adding the northern Pict territories to it was quickened by the cruel indignities to which his father had been subjected. 

Kenneth MacAlpin Gets Revenge But Spares Genocide-

According to the Pict Chronicles, the southern Pictish King Wroid (Froid) of Fortrenn (Strathearn and Fife), went to war against Kenneth in AD842-3.  Wroid and his three sons, Brude, Drust, and Kenneth, each attempted to take the throne but were each defeated and slain.  

The Picts rallied; battle followed battle, and when we think how much was at stake, and how inflamed were the combatants on both sides, we can well believe that these encounters were as sanguinary as the chroniclers say.  At last the matter came to a final trial of strength near Scone. When this last battle had been fought, the Pictish king lay dead on the field; and around him, in gory heaps, lay the bulk of his nobility and army.  The Tay, which rolled past the scene in crimsoned flood, making flight impracticable, increased the carnage of the battle.

Southern Pict Society is Incorporated Into a New Albann-

It is highly probable that severities and atrocities were consequent to victory, to awe the conquered country, and prevent insurrection and revolt among the Picts,  Submission was a new experience to this impatient and war-like people.  But the legend that assigns to the Pict race, as the result of its conquest by the Scots, the fate of utter extermination, is wholly incredible.

Also, the myth invented by Scottish purists, that the three-quarters Pict,  Kenneth MacAlpin, (named by his mother with a Pict name) invited all the Pict nobles to a dinner and then slaughtered them is pure rubbish.  No such historical record exists.

Such an effusion of blood, even had it been possible, would have been as profitless as it would have been revolting. It was blood far too precious to be spilled like water.  If that ancient and valorous race had been swept off the land, the giant Norsemen and Danes from across the sea, and the ruthless Anglo-Saxons from the south, would have rushed in and taken possession of the empty land.  As recorded in history, they were all beat back by the combined forces of the combined armies of the northern and southern Picts, and the Scots.

How sorely would the Scots have missed the Picts in the day of battle!  They were of the old Caledonian stock, descendants of the men who fought the Romans at the roots of the Grampians, and their blood instead of being poured on the earth was to be mixed with that of the Scots, to the invigoration of both.  All geneticists agree that mixed blood is ever the richest, and gives to the race in whose veins it comes, a notable robustness and variety of faculty.

It was not extermination but assimilation that befell the Picts at this epoch.  It is true that their name henceforward disappeared from history; but so, too, had the earlier name of Albiones, then Caledonian in former epochsAlthough no one supposes that the people who bore it suffered extermination.  In both cases it was the name only, not the race, that became extinct.  However, the monarchy was termed that of Albann and Pict traditions in court endured until the usurpation of the throne of Albann by the Normans.

In A.D. 843, the 3/4 Pict, Kenneth MacAlpin ascended the throne as ruler of a "United Albann" (the Southern Pict Kingdom and Scottish Dalriada), which excluded the northern Kingdom of the Picts.  Under him, the two crowns and the two peoples were united under the Pict flag.  The Monarch's title was "Rex Pictorum" in Latin, a neutral language,  Scots and Picts gradually merged into one nation, Albann.  Ever so gradually, the old dialects ceased to be relevant, and that evolution remains on-going to this day.  

Much of Kenneth's life is shrouded in mystery but it is known that he was killed in AD858.  His brother, Donald MacAlpin, "of the ruddy countenance"  succeeded him and reigned four years.  Then a strange thing happened, Constantine MacKenneth mounted the throne and ruled for fourteen years.  The question is - why didn't one of MacAlpin's sons take the throne?  There obviously was a sudden power shift away from the Alpin line to the Pict traditions.

Who was: Gregorius Magnus (classical Latin title), Ciricius (old Latin), Grig (Pict), Grigor (Welsh P-Celtic), Grioghair (or Girig) (Gaelic), Cirig, Giric or Girg, (styalized Picto/Latin forms), Gregor (English)?

In a great battle with the Vikings at Inverdovet, Caustantin MacKinet was slain with most of his Dalriadic army.  His younger son, Hugh MacKinet, took the crown but was slain at Glenartney by an unrelated Grig MacDungall, a Pict.  As the Scots had been severely weakened, it was time for the Pict establishment to step up and demand one of their own to assume the throne.

On Hugh's grave, the Gaelic inscription said he was fair-haired, the Latin inscription said he was swift-footed.  The original Pict Chronicle stated boldly in Latin "Ed MacKinet uno anno.  Interfectus in bello in Strathalin a Girg filio Dungal".  Translated into English, this reads "Hugh MacKenneth ruled for one year.  He was slain in war in Strathearn by Gregor MacDunegal."   

The time honoured method of ascending any throne in those days was to slay the opponent.  Gregor was no relation to Hugh, nor Constantine, nor Kenneth, nor of Alpin.  His father was Dungal. a Pict, of Fortrenn. Some historians leaned toward the suspicion that Grig killed his own nephew but this was merely rubbish.  The truth of the matter was - with the Scottish army was nearly annihilated, the tables were now turned, and the Pict elite was able to insist on naming a successor.

The contemporary records of the day: Nomina Regum (List of Kings), Chronica Regum, the Chronicles of Melrose, the Chronicles of Elegies, and the Chronicles of the Picts made no mention whatsoever of Hugh MacRun, a grandson of Kenneth, who is alleged in the Chronicles of the Scots to have reigned over the Picts and Scots for eleven years.  But the first four of the above speak of Grig MacDungal or Grioghair MacDunegal (in Gaelic), of his civic and military achievements, and of his deposal and death.

None of these five historical chronicles even hinted that Grig was related in any way to the Alpin family. So why do modern historians often insist Grig was of the Alpin family?

What some well-known historians wrote about Grig
(For skeptics to read)

(From Wikipedia encyclopedia)
Giric, King of Picts and Scots (ruled 878–889). The sources for the succession in what became the Kingship of Alba are meagre and confused following the peak of Scandinavian devastation in 875-6.  The descendants of Cináed mac Ailpín in the male line lost the kingship between 878 and 889. Two names of possible kings in this period are Eochaid and Giric.  Giric is very obscure; he may have been Eochaid's guardian; and he may have lost power following a solar eclipse.

By the 12th century, however, he mysteriously acquired legendary status as liberator of the Scottish church from Pictish oppression and (fantastically) conqueror of Ireland and most of England. As a result Giric, was later known as Gregory the Great. This tale appears in the variant of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba which is interpolated in Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland. Here Giric, or Grig, is named "Makdougall", son of Dúngal. Giric, and Eochaid, are omitted from the Duan Albannach, but they are not unique in this.

A.A.M. Duncan wrote:
The association of Giric and Eochaid (Hugh) in the kingship is spurious, that Giric alone was king of the Picts, which he claimed as the son of daughter of Cináed mac Ailpín, and that the report that he was Eochaid's guardian (alumpnus) is a misreading of uncle (auunculus).

A.P. Smyth wrote:
Giric was a nephew of Cináed mac Ailpín, the son of his brother Domnall, which appears to rest on what is probably a scribal error.   If the entry is accurate, then it would seem reasonable to accept the remainder, which states that an otherwise unknown Causantín mac Domnaill (or mac Dúngail) was king.

Benjamin Hudson wrote:
Giric, rather than being a member of Cenél nGabráin dynasty of Cináed mac Ailpín and his kin, was a member of the northern Cenél Loairn-descended dynasty of Moray.

The Chronicle of Melrose and some versions of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba:
Giric died at Dundurn in Strathearn.

Thomas Owen Clancy:
There lies an authentic 9th century Litany. The significance of this Litany for the question of Giric's authenticity and kingship is contained in an old Albann prayer for the king and the army:

"Ut regem nostrum Girich cum exercito suo ab omnibus inimicorum insiidis tuearis et defendas, te rogamus audi nos."

The king is clearly named as Giric.

Scottish History is Revised - To Exclude Pict Influence (Similar to how centuries later, the MacGregors were purged from Scottish history)

However, the later "Annals of the Scots" reported an alternative statement in these terms, "Others say that Kenneth's son Grig reigned here for that he was foster-father and tutor to Hugh MacRun".  This report was not substantiated by any other chronicle, and was an obvious cover-up to falsify the fact that an unrelated Pict disrupted the Alpin dynasty.

Later Scottish historians  tried to revise history, and lamely claimed Grig was actually a third  son of Kenneth MacAlpin, others said he was adopted by Kenneth, others said he was a nephew on Kenneth's sister's side - all of which were patently false, and were not substantiated by any Chronicle of the day.  

As in a dying fire, Pict glory burst forth for a final glorious moment when Grig, seized the united  throne, and ruled for 11 years (an impressive accomplishment for those days).  During his rule, he became the world's first ecumenical monarch by decreeing equality to the Scottish Church versus the Pictic Church.  Alas, it was his own race that did away with Grig, in their spiteful refusal to accept the Scottish church as an equal partner.

King Grig is recorded as "the conqueror of Anglia." Of course, this does not mean England, but is the old name for Tynedale and Lothian, populated by the Teutonic Anglo-Saxons, in a region that covered an extensive area in the southeast of Scotland (including Edinburgh).  Gregor is also recorded as being successful in conquests in "Hibernia" (Ireland).

In all likelihood, he would have been supporting the Dalriadic Scots in Ulster, relatives of his own subjects in Albann-Dalriada.  He also managed to obtain a free hand from the Anglo-Saxons in Northumbria to crush the invading Danish Vikings there.  These military successes signified an upsurge in Pictish military power, backed up by the fierceness of the Dalriadic Scots.

Gregor was well known for his attempt, well before his time, to become the first ecumenical monarch in history.  His position as state head of the Pictish Church, granted him the authority to grant equality of status to the Scotic (or Columban) Church.  It is obvious he wished to gain the goodwill of his Scotic subjects and effectively unite the nation.  Backstabbing by the Pictish clergy during and after a momentous solar eclipse in 885, provided the superstitious Picts and their jealous clergy with an excuse to condemn him and have him eventually deposed and executed.

Grig the Great, Conqueror of all Albann (including the northern kingdom), , Hibernia (Ulster), Anglia (Tynedale & Lothian Scotland), and Northumbria (in northern England), would later be erased from history by revisionist Scottish historians, who refused to entertain the possibility that their legendary three-quarters Pict founding father, Kenneth MacAlpin had not wiped out the possibility of a Pict successor.

Albann After Grig

After Gregor's death, the MacAlpin dynasty was resurrected with the appointment of Domnall mac Causantín (anglicized Donald MacConstantine),  He was a grandson of Kenneth MacAlpin.  During his reign, the Vikings wasted Albann, and finally slew Donald near Forres in Moray.  

He was the son of Causantín mac Cináeda.  Domnall is given the epithet dásachtach by the Prophecy of Berchán, meaning a violent madman.  He held the kingdom for 11 ineffectual years [889–900].  The Northmen wasted Alba at this time.  In his reign, a battle occurred between Danes and Pict/Scots at Innisibsolian where the Pict/Scots had victory.  He was killed at Opidum Fother, modern Dunnottar, near Forres in Moray, by the Northmen.

The Scottish Clergy played a large part in Gregor's downfall.  Although they were grateful for his "gift of liberty", as is called in their records.  On the political side, they were anxious to get rid of him and bring back the Alpin dynasty.  Gregor had been allowed burial in Iona, although it seems all memory of him was buried there in a convenient Scottish inspired program to pretend the MacAlpin dynasty had never been interrupted.

The Picts, although for many generations, spoke their peculiar dialect of P-Celtic, gradually, in all sorts of ways, especially in the south, blended in with the ruling Scots.  The same kind of gradual change has been overtaking Gaelic since 1746.  So, in a way, the suppression of the Pict language, culture, history and traditions has been rendered specious by the later assimilation of Gaelic by English. 

Gregor's Legacy:

His remains were allowed to be buried in Iona with the other Scotic rulers of Dalriada.  All trace of his body and burial chamber have since been obliterated, although a church in Kincardineshire, and a surrounding parish were named "Ecclesia Cirig", after him (Cirig being the shortened Latin form for Grig)The original name of the church and village was "Ecclesia Cirig" (pronounced in Gaelic and Pict as "Kirg"), later corrupted to "Cill-Cirig" (church of Gregor), and it was eventually Anglicized to Selkirk.  Gradually, the Scottish word "kirk" came to denote church.

After Gregor's reign, and due to his legislation, the united kingdom of Picts and Scots became much more of a reality than the later union of England and Scotland to form the "United Kingdom" did, after 1603.  With Gregor's death the name of the combined kingdom was changed, and later Picto-Scot kings' titles instead of being in the Latin form "Rex Pictorum," became "Ri Albain", which was unintelligible to all except the Picts. - and was used until after MacBeth's death.  The title was changed to 'King of the Scots.' The Norman Stewarts retained this title until James VI became 'King James VI of Scotland and James I of England.  Later, the title was changed to King of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Note: The Picts were the first to refer to "King" as "Ri".

Our clan changed its name from 'Clan Alpin' to 'Clan Gregor' in 1100AD.  Therefore, the correct spelling of the name is MacGregor, denoting 'son of Gregor', a king and therefore deserving of a capitalized first letter "G", whereas some other clans i.e. Macpherson, which means "son of the parson" are spelled with a small "p".

It is obvious to any serious researcher that Grig was the real unifier of Albann.  Grig secured the country's borders and brought the northern Pict Kingdom into a united Pict realm, where the Alpin dynasty had failed. 

Did the Pict Language Disappear?

From one account:  "A Pict's life was not altogether different than that of his southern Celtic neighbors in Strathclyde; they all spoke a very similar language, as the Pict language is convincingly argued to have been P-Celtic or Pretanic, so was the language of the Britons inComparison of Gaelic/English usage in Scotland in AD1400 Strathclyde and Wales".

The Pict language (or dialect) was reportedly considerably different from Gaelic, as recorded in Columba's time, when his discourse with King Bridei (or Brude in Pict) was, by necessity, accompanied by an interpreter.  This could have been simply because the dialects of the two isolated societies, one in northern Britain (Albann), the other in north Ireland,  were similar but separately influenced by the absorption of different earlier peoples, as was the Celtic custom.

There was also a considerable difference in the dialects of the northern and southern Picts, which also required the services of interpreters.   The numerous recorded cases of intermarriages between Ulster and Pict aristocracy belies the contention that their languages (or dialects)  were significantly different.

The supposed separate north and south Pict languages reported by the Northumbrian Monk, Bedes, probably originated from the influence of pre-Celtic people who the Picts assimilated into their society.  Dialectic differences rather than true linguistic differences, especially when one considers the rugged mountainous countryside which effectively semi-isolated the widely scattered villages of Albann.  This profusion of dialects is found throughout the world in similar geographic locales, and with time, would spawn new, but related languages (or dialects).

Many well-known historians and authors have made the absurd claim that there are no Pict names left anywhere in Scotland.  Others have stated that "Pict names were altered to become shorter and are numerous throughout Scotland".  To illustrate a similar alteration of place names, one merely has to trace the near recent history of any Scottish Highland place name, and one will observe a gradual and continuous change over the years to more English sounding names.

The most obvious example is the river Forth, which was called Fortrenn in Pict, (after the Kingdom of Fortrenn), and Forthin in Gaelic.    (Not much of a change there at all).

The evolution of Gaelic, in northern Ireland would have been affected by the Cruithne (Pryden) -Pict colonizers, and their mixed descendents, some of whom, eventually returned to Albann (the land of the clouds) in the genes of the "Scots".  In some accounts of the Picts (i.e. by MacDonalds) , their language was described, not as  P-Celtic, but as a "type of modern Scottish Gaelic".

This account merely corroborates the fact that modern Scottish Gaelic is changed from its parent Irish Gaelic only by the infusion of Pict words from the 90% majority.  

The long interaction between Gaelic Scots and Picts was obviously huge since they traded, intermarried, fought together, and were ultimately ruled by the same Kings.  The earlier Pict colonization of northern Ireland must have had a profound effect on the language spoken in northern Ireland at that time by the earlier peoples they encountered.  An argument could be  made that the Gaelic Scots and southern Picts must have understood each other well as there was so much recorded intermarriage between the two societies.

The truth of the matter must have been that the P-Celtic spoken by the Picts was greatly influenced by the Scot's Gaelic, and vice versa.  They both became a blend of the two dialects.  All linguists agree that modern Scots Gaelic has borrowed many Pict words.

As late as the 17th century, Highland Scots were still giving their offspring Pict names, i.e. Rob Roy's father was named "Donald Glas" (P-Celtic for pale-skinned).  If he had been given a Gaelic name, it would have been Donald "Ban".  Naming one's child Glas was not a unique thing.  Rob Roy's father was named after his maternal uncle, Donald Glas MacDonald, and there were several contemporary Campbells around at that time with Glas as a middle name also.

The Picts pronounced "W" as an "F" and in some parts of Scotland, still do.  For instance, in Buchan, "who" and "what" are still pronounced as "fa" and "fat". 

Place-names often allow us to deduce the existence of historic Pict settlements in Scotland. Those prefixed with "Aber-", "Lhan-", or "Pit-" indicate regions inhabited by Picts in the past (e.g. Aberdeen, Lhanbryde, Pitmedden, Pittodrie).

Double Consonants

The most striking feature of the Pict language was its excessive use of double consonants.  In one of very few surviving Pict inscriptions, the Lunnasting stone reads

   "ettocuhetts ahehhttann hccvvevv nehhtons"

This inscription remains un-translated even to this day.  The only word that is so far identified is the name of Nehhtonn.  The obvious question that comes to mind is - Why did the Picts apparently create unintelligible double consonant words?

Most probably, it was due to the influence of the earlier (and more numerous) Orcadians, (who had existed for many centuries in a splendid isolation).  Pict names such as Brude, Kinnid, Onnus, Donnhall, Dunnadd, Nehhtonn, Connell, Dommnall, Albann and Uurgus became Bryden, Kenneth, Angus, Donald, MacDonnell, MacConnell, MacAlpine and Fergusson - and there are many many more similar instances.  Double consonants remain a unique feature of modern Welsh, thanks in part to the influence of those early Picts.

Or perhaps, the Picts reverted back to their ancient Celtic roots, after all, the Celtic word for mother was mamm, the word for land was lann, and the word for family was clann.

It is known that the Pict "hh" sounded like "ch" and the Pict "uu" sounded like "f".

Many so-called Scottish names such as Fergus, Kenneth, Lorne, Donald, Donell, Connell, Angus,  actually have Pict roots.

Regardless, it is amazing that many of these names have survived to date.  And it is a testament to the endurance of the Picts that they do so.

 Examples of some common P- Celtic wordage versus similar meanings in Gaelic: (alphabetic order).  It must be remembered that many P-Celtic words were the basis of early Irish Gaelic, and many other P-Celtic terms were eventually assimilated into modern Scottish Gaelic from the Pict dialect (eg. Albann became Elpin, and later, Alpine).

Big:  In P-Celtic = mawr. In Gaelic = mohr. (Pronounced the same in both dialects)
: In P-Celtic = dhu.  In Gaelic = dubh. Many early MacGregors [i.e. Alastair Dhu (died 1531)], were named "dhu", later  "dubh" was favoured.  This fact alone, proves the Pict origin of early MacGregors.
: In P-Celtic = clann.  In Gaelic = fine, cinneadh. (Clan was originally a P-Celtic word)
Cod:  In P-Celtic = cod.   In Gaelic = pollach. (Cod was originally a P-Celtic word)
Geyser: In P-Celtic = geyser.  In Gaelic = (not listed) (Geyser was originally a P-Celtic word)
Glen: In P-Celtic = glyn.  In Gaelic = gleann. (Pronounced the same in both dialects)
Gregory: In Breton = Gireg. In Pict = Grig.  In Gaelic = Grioghair. (In this name, the P-Celtic versions seem to have won out).
Loch: In P-Celtic = loch.  In Gaelic = donn-ruadh. (Loch was originally a P-Celtic word)
Blue:  In P-Celtic = glas.  In Gaelic = ban.  (e.g. Donald Glas MacGregor, Rob Roy's father,  was given a Pict name after his paternal uncle).
White:  In P-Celtic = gwyn.  In Gaelic = ban.  (Gwynn is still highly favoured as a first name among Irish descendents, but there are very few "Bans" running around.)
Cat:  In P-Celtic = caith.  In Gaelic = cat. (eg. Caithness = place of the cat [P-Celt]).

Examples of such name changes abound throughout the world, even in North America.  My home village in Nova Scotia was once recorded on 17th century French maps as "Rivière Hébèrt".  With the withdrawal of the French, it was later anglicized to "Bear River", thus retaining the main component "Bear", (as Hébèrt is pronounced "Aybear" in French).  Although the connotation was lost, the phonetic foundation of the name endures, despite the complete replacement of the original inhabitants.  This unconscious name-place endurance is found everywhere man resides.

An excellent example of a subtle name change in Scotland is Loch Katrine.  An earlier Gaelic name was recorded as being "Loch Ceathairneach" , which means, in English, Loch of the Outlaws. (Referring of course to the MacGregors).  The way it became known as "Loch Katrine" is because Ceathairneach sounds like Katarnic to English ears, so it eventually became "Katrine". God only knows what the Pict name was. (Thanks to Peter MacGregor for this explanation.)

One of the strengths of the English language is that it borrows freely from other tongues without malice, and incorporates useful words into mainstream English.  In this way we have enriched our language with better words, no matter what their origin.  A few examples: "tobacco" and "hammock" were words originally used by the extinct Caribe of Cuba and Hispaniola.  "Caucus" and "toboggan" are words from the (nearly extinct) Huron nation of Canada, now all quite thoroughly English.

To list more of these adopted words is not within my context but it is obvious that their addition makes our language richer.  Let us merely accept that the Picts gave us many words which have been incorporated into Scottish Gaelic, then English.  I am sure that anyone would be amazed if one was made aware of the actual origins of most of our everyday language.  Similarly, Scottish Gaelic earlier diverged from its parent Irish Q-Celtic, and was enriched by the infusion of Pict wordage, where convenient.

What We MacGregors Owe To Pict Culture


The habitual overreaction of MacGregors over the centuries to their antagonists has merely emphasized their Pict-endowed stubbornness.  While others have slipped quietly into oblivion,  MacGregors actually flourished when they should have disappeared.  These are the same qualities that gave the "Caledonians" the resolve not to become slaves of the Romans.  They persisted and eventually drove the Romans and their African, Asian, European and British slave-auxiliaries south behind the Apennine and Hadrian walls.

There is a Celtic tradition that Finghin was King Grigor's grandson.  That claim was entirely possible as Grigor was slain in AD889 while still a robust man, and Finghin was a middle aged man by AD996 when he had an audience with Pope John XIII.   As a result of his successful plea for the Church's permission to father children, he became the "father" of the MacKinnons and the MacNabs as well as of many MacGregors.

Many of the Glen Dochart people were known to be descendents of other grandchildren of Grigor.  It is known that these people habitually signed their names as "Gregorii" or of the Gregor group.  This is the basis of the claim that Glen Dochart is the ancient homeland of Clan Gregor, not Argyle as is claimed by some modern revisionists.

The absence of "Mac" in the founding clan signified they were descendents of a race but not necessarily of blood, which is another Celtic tradition.  Roman historians wrote the Kelts were a community of culture, not of race.

Dr. Beddoe, the leading ethnologist of the 19th century, studied the population of those MacGregor areas of western Perthshire, and stated they were very homogenous and many of them resembled the Caledonians of Tacitus' description.  That was before the industrial age and the scattering of rural populations to and fro.

This documented history, and the unbiased conclusions of Dr. Beddoe, are all the proof we need that we MacGregors are indeed descendents of the Picts.

The Cross of St. Andrew -

In AD761, the Picts, under King Oengus (Angus), were fighting the northward expanding Saxons of Northumbria in a life or death struggle.  On the eve of battle, Oengus had a dream  where he had a vision of Saint Andrew carrying his Saltire cross, which was a brilliant white on a blue sky background.

The next day, near the village of Athelstaneford in East Lothian,  the Picts won a great victory.  From then on, the white Saltire cross on a blue background became the symbol of the Picts, and eventually the National Flag of Scotland.

Our Naming Tradition -

Pictic names such as Ailpein (Alpin), Kinnid (Kenneth), Onnust (Angus), Brude, Wroid, Bili and Drust were favoured until Albann's conversion to Christianity.  After their conversion, Picts began to favour the Picticized names of five of  Jesus' disciples: Seumas (James), Eoin (John), [later Gaelicized to Iain], Domhnull (Daniel), later became Donald, and Aindrea (Andrew), and Petrie (Peter).  The outstanding favourite among MacGregors was the name of the Christian martyr, Ciricius or (Grig) in Pict.   Another saintly name often chosen was Padrig (Patrick) the legendary Irish Saint who was a native Albann.

Then Picts began to do something very unique.  They started naming their children after foreign Royalty and great leaders.  This was especially evident up until the end of the 17th century, and continues to the present day, although these name have been Anglicized.  A few favourites were Gregor, (the traditional name for Popes in the first century AD), Alastair, (Alexander the Great).  Then there was Castantin (Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor), Coll (after Colla Uais of Irish origin,  Raibert (Robert the Bruce) was usually shortened to Rob, Harold (after Harald, the traditional name for Norse Kings), Ranald (of Norse Viking origin).

A few Gaelic names were used such as Calum ( later to become Malcom) (a derivative of Colum after St. Columba), Dougal or Dugald, and Dughall (later to become Duncan).  Significant additions were: Jacob (James),  George (after the dynasty of Hanoverian Kings of England, and William (after William of Orange).  After 1746, first names were  Anglicized, as Gaelic was all but forbidden by law so John, the English form for Ian became popular.

Likewise, our women, in the Pict tradition,  were primarily named after Saints or foreign Queens i.e. Anne, Katrine (later Catherine), Christian, Elisabeth (of England), Helen (of Troy), Margaret, Caroline, and the very favorite: Mary (mother of Jesus).  It was not until the late 19th century that MacGregors started using more exotic first names for their children.

With these few and unique choice of names, any family of MacGregors could readily be recognized by another MacGregor, no matter what their assumed surnames.  It is remarkable that early MacGregor family names resembled each other so much!  In this way, the proscriptions that were placed on us were almost worthless, as when trouble broke out, various MacGregors, coalesced like beads of mercury.  It was only after the proscriptions were lifted that MacGregors began to use a wider spectrum of first names.  During the early proscriptions, it was illegal for any Scot to name one's child "Gregor" in the fear that it could maintain the MacGregor legacy.

It is important to recognize that this precious instrument of our survival was begun by the Picts, not the Dalriadic Scots.  In the Pict tradition, the mother named the children.  That is why the Pict name, Alpin, became a Scottish Dynasty. 

MacGregor males living today with popular names such as: Gregor, Peter, Alexander, George, Bruce, Harold, John and William, can trace the choice of their names and the naming tradition that begat those names, directly back to the Picts.

The name "Alpin" -

Clan Gregor was originally called Clan MacAlpinSince Alpin was a common Pict name
(and not Scottish), this adds to the argument that Clan Gregor was descended from Pict Society.  The country, Albann, was pronounced as 'Alpin' in Celtic.  It is not uncommon for some families to take up the name of their homeland as a surname. i.e. England, France, Ireland, Deutsch.

 In today's English, the term "Alpine" is synonymous to "mountainous".

The "Highland" Clan -

The word "clan" is a P-Celtic word.  For those who may be shocked, check a Welsh/English dictionary, and then a Gaelic/English dictionary.  The Gaelic word for clan is cinneadh. The character of Scottish clans, as we know them today, evolved long before a puny  Dalriadic outpost was established in Argyll with the sufferance of an Albann district governor.  

Although the culture of the clan originated with the Celts in central Europe, it was fine tuned by the advanced "La-Tene" Celts in the rugged glens and mountains of Albann.  It became especially necessary to encourage competition between semi-isolated communities in order to develop better fighting capabilities of the whole.  Due to poor communications and the lack of roads, the central authorities could not easily control rivalries and petty squabbles which often broke out in the Glens.  So it became advantageous for the High King to allow the evolution of powerful (and loyal) families throughout Albann.

To impress the authority of weak Chiefs over stronger rivals would have meant the decay of the entire country into an easy victim of any aggressor, and there were many of these.  The history we know of the Picts, is filled with the violent  struggles of clans for control of their own territories, and ultimately, of the country.

The "Scottish" Tartan-

Tacitus described the Caledonians as being blonde or red-haired, long-limbed and wearing tartans.  That recorded description effectively proves the Picts originated the tartan garb, not the Scots.

The Fiery Cross -[image of a burning cross]

Unlike Ireland, which was relatively flat, northern Britain, with its mountainous geography, and far-flung semi-isolated communities,  needed an efficient  method of gathering its dispersed fighting men quickly in times of peril.  The answer appeared in the form of "The Cloak of Shame."   This was a Pagan device which consisted of the hide of a prize ram sheep,  marked with blood, and killed in a ceremony presided over by the Clan Druid (Priest), and  sent by a runner to present throughout the Clan area as a call to arms.   These threats ranged from raids by other Pict or Scot clans, to large scale attacks by Romans, Saxons, Irish Gaels, Vikings, and later, to incursions by English forces. 

Those who disregarded the summons of the "Cloak of Shame" were looked upon as traitors to the Chief and Clan, and through his power over his clan, the most horrible imprecations were called down upon their heads, often expulsion or even execution.  Old men cursed their delinquent sons, maidens despised their guilty lovers, all members of the Clan united in heaping shame and abuse upon them.  No excuse was accepted for not responding to the summons.

The first use of a fiery cross was by Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor.  It became his personal standard.  When the Picts were converted to Christianity in the 6th century AD, the fiery cross was added the Cloak of Shame to signify that the call to arms was a religious as well as a patriotic duty.  The cross was a holy emblem and as such was universally viewed with awe and reverence.  A Clan was ever on the alert for fear of invasion of its territory by an enemy, especially from the fearsome heathen Vikings. Their attacks were sudden, unheralded, and accompanied by the burning of houses and villages, and the killing or abduction of the inhabitants.

Clan Gregor's secret place of rendezvous where they met at the call of the Chief was in Glen Dochart.  When an emergency arose for an imminent gathering of the Clan to resist the incursion of an enemy, the "Fiery Cross" was immediately sent by the Chief through the territories of his Clan as a signal for all the fighting men to gather at once at the rendezvous, armed for war.

The Cross was small enough to be easily carried in one hand and was fashioned of wood chiefly of the yew tree or hazel in the form of a Latin Cross.  The manner of procedure seemed to vary.  Sometimes the ends of the upper and two horizontal arms were set on fire and then the blaze was extinguished in the blood of a goat slain for the purpose (a ritual from pagan times), at other times one of the ends of the horizontal piece was burnt or burning while pieces of the pelt of the Ram stained with blood was suspended from the other end.

Often two or more men, each with a "Fiery Cross" in hand, were dispatched by the Chief in different directions, who ran shouting the war cry "Ard Choille" (to the high woods).  As the runners became weary, the crosses were passed to others and, as each fresh bearer ran at full speed, the Clan was assembled very quickly.  To carry the cross was a matter of pride for any participant, and all young men of the clan vied for the opportunity.

Clan Gregor, being principally of Pict descent, and with its widely scattered forces, used the "cloak of shame", then the "fiery cross" more often than did any other clan.  eg. it was recorded as being sent out by Alasdair to defend against the threatening Colquhouns in 1603.  The ceremony of dedication of a combined bloody-cloak and fiery cross, with a ritual send-off by Roderick, was beautifully described in Sir Walter E. Scott's renowned poem "Lady of the Lake", which was a thinly veiled transference of the Clan Gregor. 

Clan Grant, a Clan Gregor cadet (offshoot), also used the fiery cross to a considerable extent, and claims to have been the last clan to have used it - in defence of its principle castle, Urquhart, which overlooks Loch Ness, and was originally a great Pict fortress.

Modern armies exploit the martial qualities of the Celtic clan system -

Editor's note:  In their many struggles with the Scots, the  English were startled at the ferocity of highlanders charging in clan units.  It was said a charging highlander could be mortally shot and still manage to slay his opponent.  This ferocity has been utilized very effectively where many Highlanders were organized into clan (or regional) Highland units in the British army, becoming its shock troops in countless battles. 

The unique fighting spirit and camaraderie of units where men are related has been exploited by the Canadian army in the purposeful organization of its militia into local regiments, rather than into large scale divisions, as in many other countries.  In Canada's militia, there are more "Highland" regiments than any other.

Their numbers are called forth in times of national disaster (or threat) similar to how Pict Clans were summoned to support their King 1800 years ago.   This fact alone is an enduring testament to the essence of those ancient Celtic clans and to their descendents, wherever they may reside.

Pict Traditions Endure-

For those who may be skeptical about the enduring survival of Pict traditions, remember that beheading was the most shameful of deaths in Pictic ethics (not in Gaelic).  It was reserved for those who were held in utter contempt.  In 1589, the fate of the Royal Forester, John Drummond, who summarily hanged two hapless MacGregors, and was soon apprehended by our Clan,  was beheading.  As late as 1820, a James Wilson, was beheaded (after being hanged) on Glasgow Green, for leading a protest march against the rampant starvation of the time.

The Conspiracy To Revise History-

It is easy to manipulate history to flatter its readers but difficult to undue that intrigue.

It appears there has been a concerted effort over the years on the part of the Scottish establishment to erase any trace of Pict culture, but it is only natural that there are many Scottish name places that originally were of Pict origin.  As an example of this generally contrived erasure of all things Pict, there has been no mention in Scottish government literature that almost all castles in that country were actually built on Pict foundations.   Only recently have the authorities begun excavations that conclusively prove the Pict origins of castles such as Castle Urquhart.

An example of this revisionist history is the routine claim by many Scottish "historical experts" that Kilchurn was originally built by the Campbells.  I have personally argued with several of these people that insist that it is so - no doubt because they have read it in official government-sanctioned literature and have become brain-washed..

If one is to accept this revisionist history, it appears that Forbes MacGregor must have been wrong when he wrote of Clan Gregor; "By 1440 they had lost most of their Argylshire lands, including Kilchurn Castle, one of their ancient strongholds, on the accessible east side of Loch Awe,"  and Sir Walter Scott must have entirely fabricated his poem from false precepts, in The MacGregors' Gathering, where he wrote "Glen Orchy's proud mountains, Kilchurn and her towers, Glenstrae and Glenlyon no longer are ours".

  I don't think so.

Editor's note:  If this mentality persists, at some future date, it will be difficult for we MacGregors to convince people that our Clan ever existed as an independent entity.  Already, I am hearing that Clan Gregor existed only on the paternal sufferance of the Campbells.  We were a victim of the Campbell dragon, not their accomplice.

There have been documented incidents where official Scottish tour guides stated that Rob Roy was a fictitious character.  The establishment have done their best to erase from history our namesake, Gregor MacDunegal, the existence of Rob Roy, and others.  They have acted, in some ways, in the same manner as what the Soviets did when they rewrote their history to exclude Stalin's enemies.  The unapologetic British government line seems to be, "the MacGregors were bad people so we had to try to get rid of them".

 It is always easier to blame the victim than to own up to ones own shameful past.

Columban Missionaries In Europe-

The names of the greatest literary icons in France of the first millennium AD were those of Scots.  When the emperor Charlemagne founded the University of Paris, it was to Scotland he turned for men to fill its chairs of philosophy, of mathematics, and languages.  Among Scots in France, eminent for their attainments in literature and piety, was Joannes Scotus, or "Albinus" its Pict equivalent.  That the Scot and Pict Columban religious schools had produced many renowned scholars was well known in those times, although far less appreciated today.The Scottish Empire of King James VI

Clement, another distinguished Scot, proved a thorn in the side of the Papacy.  He stood up in the centre of Europe in opposition to Boniface, whom Pope Gregory II had sent as envoy to the Germans, and maintained in public the sole authority of the Scriptures against Pontifical dictates.

The tide was turning against Boniface, when the eloquent and undaunted Clement was seized, sent off under guard to Rome, and never heard of again.   So, Scotland had the honour of furnishing the first reformation martyr who suffered under the papacy.  This by no means exhausts the list of Scotsmen who, by their learning and piety, placed their little country on a pedestal whence it was seen all over Europe.  How many of these "Scots" were actually Picts, or partial Picts, will never be known.  

For those skeptics less inclined to believe the Picts left anything of value in Scotland, let's remember that both the Scottish National flag and the floral symbol of Scotland were, and always will be, Pict symbols.

One last question for those skeptics who might believe there are no Picts worthy of mention or of any special significance in this, the beginning of the 21st century.

Who was the most renowned and revered Pict in history?  A few clues:  Annual parades around the world draw thousands, (150,000 in New York City alone).  If that doesn't do it, then another clue.  He was (and remains) a Saint.   Still bedeviled?  The Irish have claimed him as their own.  Of course, - -   Saint Patrick!!!    A little background on this, the most famous Pict of all time:

Universally known as the Apostle of Ireland, he was born into a Pict Christian family in Kilmarnock, near Dumbarton, in Albann, in the year 387AD, as Maewyn Succat (warlike).  Like many young Picts, he was kidnapped, sold as a slave and shipped off to Ireland as a child.  He worked as a shepherd and spent most of his spare time in prayer.  He eventually escaped and fled to the continent, where he studied in several monasteries, and was baptized "Patricius" (aristocratic).  He eventually became a Bishop and was sent by Pope Celestine to Britain to evangelize England and Ireland.  He was most successful in Ireland, and completely converted Ireland to Christianity within 33 years.  In the Middle Ages, Ireland became known as the Land of Saints, and during the Dark Ages, its many monasteries were the great repositories of learning in Europe - all because of Saint Patrick.  He died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 493 AD. 

Note: Regarding the later Catholic church's claim that St. Patrick was actually a Roman -

Miraculously, after St. Patrick's death, an autobiography appeared purporting to have been written by the Saint himself.  This document clearly illustrated St Patrick was a Roman with Roman parents.

This document is so much rubbish as the Romans are universally recognized as having abandoned the Antonnine Wall in 170 AD, (built in 140 AD) and fell back to Hadrian's Wall, which roughly corresponds to the present Scottish/English border at the western end, and runs easterly through what is now part of Northumberland in England.

So, a teenager who was born in Kilmarnock in the year 387AD, 217 years after the Romans entirely abandoned that part of Britain,  would have definitely been none other than a Pict.

It appears that parochialism was alive and well in the mother Church in the first century AD, as many of those with influence attempted to rewrite history and cleanse St Patrick by severing his Pict background, - to satisfy those skeptics who doubted such a great man could possibly have been anything but a true Roman.

A Canadian Celtic connection preserves the olde culture-

In a country of over 31 million people,  practically the entire source of Celtic singers, musicians and dancers, is a small Celtic enclave on Canada's east coast, with the self-describing name of Cape Breton.

First populated (from Europe) by Roman Catholic French Acadians, who were Celts originally from Breton in France, then Roman Catholic Scots, who were Celts from the  Highlands of Scotland; this hallowed place was and remains uniquely Celtic.

This unique ethnic mix has resulted in a race of Cape Bretoners who are universally known for their toughness, their fierce loyalty to Cape Breton, and to their exceptional musical aptitude.

Musicians from Cape Breton dominate the Canadian "Fiddling" scene also.  The names of Cape Breton musicians are household names across Canada.  To name a few; The Rankin FamilyAshley MacIsaac, and Rita MacNeil. The music that emanates from there brings tears to all those who listen and sends a chill down the spine of those who appreciate it.

Two outstanding examples are:  "The Myra" & "Goodbye to Nova Scotia".  Thank God for places like Cape Breton Island.  I'm sure that if my ancient Pict ancestors were watching, they would be proud.

The Rankin family

The Rankin Family, one of Cape Breton's most famous musical groups

King Oengus had a dream
Onnus had a dream

Today, at Athelstaneford, there stands a memorial to the “Battle of the Saltire” in the kirkyard of Althelstaneford Parish Kirk. It was built in 1965 by the late Dr. F.R. Stevenson, and restored in 1993. It depicts the battle with the two armies, (the Picts and the Northumbrians) facing each other and in the sky above them, the saltire of St. Andrew. Above the monument on a flagpole permanently flies a Saint Andrew’s Cross flag, which is lit even during the hours of darkness. The inscription of the memorial states: 

Tradition says that near this place in times remote

Pictish and Scottish warriors about to defeat an army

of Northumbrians saw against a blue sky a great white

cross like St. Andrew’s, and in it’s image made a banner


Oengus's dream resulted in a Pict design on the flag of the greatest Empire this world has ever known.

The lowly thistle saved a Pict settlement from a surprise attack by barefooted marauding Vikings.

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