13 Facts About Picts


Picts were a group of peoples who lived in what is northern and eastern Scotland during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.

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Picts are assumed to have been the descendants of the Caledonii and other Iron Age tribes that were mentioned by Roman historians or on the world map of Ptolemy.

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The difficulties with Pictish archaeology were due to the fact that the people who were called Picts were a fundamentally heterogeneous group with little in the way of cultural uniformity.

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The people who were first called "Picts" were very different from those of the later period, in terms of language, culture, religion and politics.

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Picts continued to be used by outsiders, notably the Irish Annalists and contemporary scholars like Bede, to describe the peoples of North and Eastern Scotland, excluding the Dal Riatans, the Britons of South Western Scotland and the Northumbrian Angles to the South East, into Lothian.

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Picts were called Cruithni in Old Irish and Prydyn in Old Welsh.

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Pictish recorded history begins with the Roman invasion of Britain and the efforts of the Picts to resist Roman attempts to control the part of the island referred to as Caledonia.

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The Picts were probably tributary to Northumbria until the reign of Bridei mac Beli, when, in 685, the Anglians suffered a defeat at the Battle of Dun Nechtain that halted their northward expansion.

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Picts are often said to have practised matrilineal kingship succession on the basis of Irish legends and a statement in Bede's history.

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Kingly fathers were not frequently succeeded by their sons, not because the Picts practised matrilineal succession, but because they were usually followed by their own brothers or cousins, more likely to be experienced men with the authority and the support necessary to be king.

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Early Picts are associated with piracy and raiding along the coasts of Roman Britain.

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Picts are often said to have tattooed themselves, but evidence for this is limited.

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Pictish metalwork is found throughout Pictland and further south; the Picts appeared to have a considerable amount of silver available, probably from raiding further south, or the payment of subsidies to keep them from doing so.

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