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by Stuart McHardy

Gliog an seo gus an aiste seo leughadh sa Ghàidhlig
Click here tae read this airticle in Scots

Over the past couple of decades there has been a growing interest in the Picts, the ancient people living in Scotland when the Romans invaded from England.  Over the centuries there have been many theories as to who they were and where they came from.  With recent advances in archaeology and other disciplines it is possible we can now see them clearer than in the past.  Perhaps.

The first thing we should realise is that they weren’t given their name by the Romans.  All the evidence points to them having been called something like Pech or Pecht, a name that has survived in oral tradition.  When the Romans used the term Pict (and in the document that first mentions Pict, it is written Picti and Pecti).  They seem to have been referring to all the tribal peoples north of Hadrian’s Wall, not just to north of the Antonine Wall that ran from the Forth to the Clyde.

One ongoing problem in our history is that south of Hadrian’s Wall the Roman Empire ruled for four centuries while in Scotland the longest continuous military occupation was no more than fifteen years.  But historians (perhaps somewhat influenced by the ideas of the British Empire) have always tended to play up Roman influence in Scotland.  We should always remember that though they conquered England, they didn’t conquer here.

Such evidence as we have suggests that the Picts were the descendants of the original, indigenous peoples of Scotland – warrior tribes living in subsistence economies based on cattle rearing.  After the Romans left Britain at the start of the 5th century things began to change and there was almost constant pressure on the Picts from the expanding kingdom of Northumbria in north-east England.  This forced all the northern tribes to become more centralized.

This perhaps accounts for the development of the Gododdin in the south east of Scotland while the people on the west as far north as the Clyde emerged as the Britons of Strathclyde.  To the north of them the tribes held onto the old designation of Pict, and here arose, over time, the historical kingdom of the Picts.

All of these peoples probably spoke a language akin to Old Welsh, while over in the west, were another tribal society, the Scots, who spoke a different variant of the old Celtic speech that survives today as modern Gaelic.  It wouldn’t be too far off the mark to think of all of these tribal peoples as cousins.

Recent research in history, archaeology and linguistics all strongly suggest that the Scots were most likely natives of Scotland, just like the Picts, and certainly didn’t come over from Ireland in the 5th or 6th century.  The reason such a story has survived is probably due to ‘spin’ by early Christian missionaries keen to enhance the prestige and influence of Columba and his companions who, of course did hail from Ireland.  Their mission spread out from Dalriada and over time the whole of Scotland was converted to Christianity,though  the vestiges of the old religion lingered for a long time, and might not yet have disappeared completely.

In the 7th century the expansionist Angles of Northumbria came very close to conquering all of Scotland but were routed by the Picts at the Battle of Dunnichen in 685.  This battle essentially laid the ground for the eventual creation of Alba, the earliest name for Scotland.  Dunnichen illustrates the murkiness of much of our history with people today disputing whether it took place near Forfar or Aviemore.

Due to a variety of reasons, invasions from the south mainly, there are few extant early sources of Scottish history and we have to look outside Scotland for records of the early period.  In the centuries after Dunnichen there are reports of a fair number of battles here, some between Picts and Scots, others between Picts and Britons, Britons and Scots and some between the Picts themselves.

These inter-Pictish battles have generally portrayed as dynastic struggles but given the nature of tribal society they may well have been more akin to inter-clan battles.  The Romans had described the Picts as being ‘addicted to raiding’, something the Edinburgh and London governments were still saying of the Highland clans as late as the 18th century.

As time went by there are references to Picts leading the Scots and Scots leading the Picts underlining the close relationship between the two,  By the time the Vikings raids began at the beginning of the 9th century there had been several instances of Picts and Scots having the same king, though we should remember that the term king was part of the mind set of the Classical and Biblically trained scribes we rely on.  Whether such men were kings as we understand the term, in light of the tribal nature of their societies, is perhaps open to question.  When it came to the massive incursions of the Norsemen we can see good reason for Picts and Scots looking to unite.

The Norsemen came close to conquering all of Scotland and for centuries did rule over most of the Hebrides, the Northern Isles and much of the mainland north of Inverness.  For a long time it was thought that the Picts had been conquered by the Scots but modern thinking is that they united in a relatively peaceful fashion.  Some even think that Kenneth Macalpine, long believed the first real king of Alba, was as much a Pict as a Scot.  From the 9th century onwards this combined kingdom, or nation, was called Alba, later being called Scotland and although the Pictish language seems to have disappeared by 12th century, the Picts themselves are still among us, or their descendants are.

It seems that the Picts are the ancestor people of modern Scotland and that the Scots too were once Picts.

Part 2 next week

Stuart McHardy is a writer and story-teller and is the author of A New History of the Picts, published by Luath Press in 2011.

Comments  

 
# Edna Caine 2011-08-21 10:51
Excellent article. Thank you Stuart. Looking forward to Part 2.

This is the sort of stuff that should be taught in our schools (Oh, it's going to be)

To quote - "the vestiges of the old religion lingered for along time, and might not yet have disappeared completely"

Indeed -
explore-inverness.com/.../...

Off to Amazon to order the book.
 
 
# bringiton 2011-08-21 11:48
The DNA studies which have been carried out in Scotland suggest an ancient story.Most people being descendants of the original hunter gatherers who arrived here after the last ice age.But a number of people (especially in the western islands) being descendants of farmers from the eastern Mediterranean who arrived during more recent neolithic times.
Looking forward also to part 2.
 
 
# gedguy2 2011-08-21 13:48
Bought it and looking forward to the read.
I hope it explains why you think that the Scots were already indigenous to the west coast of Scotland for, if you are correct, the history books will have to rewritten.
 
 
# pictishbeastie 2011-08-21 15:29
Great stuff Stuart,keep it up!
 
 
# Caadfael 2011-08-21 16:27
The so-called mystery of the "Z-rod" really makes me laugh!
It represents a spear, not just the weapon itself, but a symbol of power and not to be fooled with.
If you look at some of the stones, you will see for instance a salmon one side of the rod and say a bear on the other,the rod is broken two ways, as if by 2 parties breaking it simultaneously, so it could be the making of a peace or a marriage, depending on the symbols associated with it, eg a fireplace and a quern would be a marriage, whereas 2 fireplaces, a peace or an alliance.
Another laughable one is the "tuning fork", pretty obviously a broken sword or dagger meaning broken power or defeated.
Tried telling an academic that some time ago and was told to go forth and multiply cos I hadnt spent many years not coming up with answers!
Oh well we shall see!
 
 
# Auld Bob 2011-08-21 18:14
I have said for many years that the idea of the Scots being Irish was stupid. After all the seas and waterways were the superhighways back then. What more clear then that the peoples around the Irish Sea coasts were one and the same when the land was covered by the Great Caladonian Forest that made land travel a great problem.
 
 
# Edna Caine 2011-08-21 21:56
Carving of a boar from Dunadd (the capital of the "invading" Scots of Dalriada -

i55.tinypic.com/j6uavc.png

A boar from Inverness, the capital of the Northern Picts -

i56.tinypic.com/zyh53k.png

Remarkable example of parallel development if we were to believe the old fashioned view of our history.

Sorry to boar you (Couldn't resist!)
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2011-08-21 22:09
Tusk, tusk .......
 
 
# bagonails 2011-08-21 18:58
Great stuff Stuart
Just bought the book
 
 
# BeltaneFire 2011-08-21 20:22
I went to see Stuart's book launch in Edinburgh in 2009, and he was great. He is also a wonderful story-teller. It is an excellent read, but some of what he is saying was already becoming the conventional thought by some, particularly Dr. Ewan Campbell of Glasgow University, on post-Roman/Early Medieval North Britain.

Stuart's theories make perfect sense, if you have a feel for the period, and Dr. Campbell's theory, that the Scots are an indigenous people, is based on the differing archaeology of the north of Ireland and Argyle; suggesting that contact was obvious, but that the two peoples evolved in their own way. It is also suggested that rather than the conventional idea of settlement from Ireland to Argyle, it may have been the other way round.

The first rule of a historian is to question the motives of the primary and secondary sources; something, we in Scotland, should be always aware of.
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2011-08-21 21:02
There is still a wealth of information to be teased out of the tales and stories that still circulate within Scottish Clans.

I am related to the Clan Gregor on my mother's side. My Granny was a Gaelic speaking Gregor from Moray and she used to tell us the 'stories' about the cleverness of the Gregors and why the Stuart Kings persecuted the clan at every turn. Stories that my gran no doubt heard from her granny in the 1880's.

There is the core story of the Gregors having a better claim to the crown of Scotland than the Stuarts being related to Kenneth McAlpin (some stories say the clan's founder was his brother, others his son) and why the clan motto is: Rhial mho rheam (Royal is our blood). This is the reason claimed as to why the Stuarts persecuted and proscribed the Clan Gregor at every opportunity.

My Gran's story about Argyll's attempt to do a 'Glen Coe Massacre' on the Gregors relates how Argyll's client Clan - the Colquhouns who owed him a favour - were sent to do the dirty deed.

As the Colquhouns entered the Gregor lands around Breadalbane they were stopped by agents of the Clan Chief and asked their business. As they did not have much heart for the business in hand they told the Gregors what was a foot so they all sat down for a meal and a few drinks. By the next day the solution had been agreed.

Most of the force would simply return to their own lands in dribs and drabs to get their harvest home. Their leaders would stay on enjoying Gregor hospitality for a couple of weeks and then seek out Argyll to tell of their failure due to the terrible harrying at the hands of the 'Children of the Mist' which cost them 700 men.

Apparently Argyll was happy to go along with the tale and wrote to James VIth vilifying the terror and violence of the Gregors towards the King's loyal subjects and the Gregors open rebellion towards his crown.

Not for the last time a Stuart King had a proclamation made at Mercat Crosses around Scotland proscribing the name 'Gregor', proclaiming them 'outlaw' and stating that any person of the clan name Gregor who were apprehended by the authorities to be 'hingit by the neck'.

Folk tale or not?

The proscribing of the Clan name is well established.
 
 
# Edna Caine 2011-08-21 21:33
Aye Mad Jock, verra weel. We noo ken the history of the Grigoraicheann.

Whit aboot the proud history of the McMad's?
 
 
# Blanco 2011-08-22 08:53
My granny was a Colquhoun. Apparently your granny's lot were all thieving b*stards! ;)
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2011-08-23 13:26
It all depended if the Gregors were moving your black cattle or not.

If we had the contract to shift the beast to market you got your money per head on the barrel. If the Gregors were passing .... well they had a deal to ensure so the odd coo beastie might just take a daunder ;-D. If you walk the drove road out of Peebles it has a dry stane wall either side for many miles in an attempt to keep local kine safe from drovers.

My Granddad always claimed that one of my Gran's relations was the last person to be publicly hung in Hawick for cattle stealing. There must have been some truth in it as Granny always shut up.
 
 
# 1314 2011-08-22 02:03
Good article - I'm not as with it as some others here, and so interested to read that recent research suggests that Scots did not come from Ireland.

Also, I'm totally, 110%, no dammit, go for it, 120%, impressed by Newsnet's commitment to making articles available in Scots and Gaelic.
 
 
# Blanco 2011-08-22 09:00
I've read Alex Woolf's book where he puts forward the theory that the battle of Dun Nechtan was at Loch Inch near Aviemore, rather than Dunnichen, based on:

1)there is a Dunachton near Loch Insch (which could be the Linn Garan mentioned in old texts)

2)Bede mentions that Ecfrith was lured into inacessible mountains to his doom - which fits the Drumochter pass near Dunachton better than anywhere in lowland Angus near Dunnichen

3)Alex Woolf's own theory that the Pictish district Fortriu was north of the Mounth rather than the previous recieved wisdom of south of the Mounth.


I've not heard a theory before for all the peoples north of Hadrian's Wall being called Picts - would be very interested to see the workings behind that!

Also interested to know what Stuart means by the 5th and 6th century Scots not being Irish - the old 'big wave' theory of immigrants coming in and slaughtering everyone has been toppled through DNA evidence which, though not comprehensive, points to the majority of people in Britain being related to stone age ancestors (it's only one example, but see en.wikipedia.org/.../...) - surely the Dalriadan aristocracy came from Ireland though.
 
 
# cokynutjoe 2011-08-22 14:03
Interesting article Stuart, I have read that there is no evidence in the archaeology for an invasion from Ireland. Does the Roman name Caledonia not predate Alba?
Re' Mad Jock's antecedents, surely the Breadalbane Campbells were the Clan Gregor's nemesis, Argyll was a bit more favourable to the "Children of the Mist"?
I was at school with a MacGregor whose faither was very fond of a hauf, putting it mildly, the family were known as "The Children of the Pissed".
Never understood their adherence to the Stuarts!
 
 
# Scottish republic 2011-08-22 17:00
It begs the question why do the Irish and Scots Gaelic so resemble each other if the Scots didn't originally hail from Ireland?

Good article but there was no proof offered for the Scots already being settled in Scotland. Proof would be interesting.
 
 
# Blanco 2011-08-23 07:08
Perhaps Stuart is alluding to the recent idea that a cultural invasion doesn't necessarily mean the physical destruction of an indigenous population... Recent genetic research has shown that most people in England share more mtDNA with the ancient Britons than they do with the Saxons or Angles, even though they took on the Anglian language... perhaps the same is true of the Scots in the 6th century. However I haven't seen any research to that effect and would be grateful for a pointer. 
 
 
# Holebender 2011-08-23 16:17
Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the female line only. It makes sense that the original Angles, Saxons, etc. were predominantly male warriors who would have bred (willingly or otherwise) with the indigenous female population.
 
 
# Blanco 2011-08-23 21:24
Hmm, good point. Wonder what consideration that point is given in the studies on the subject. On the other hand mothers are just as important as fathers, albeit historically more invisible.
 
 
# Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh 2011-08-23 00:10
Quote:
All of these peoples probably spoke a language akin to Old Welsh, while over in the west, were another tribal society, the Scots, who spoke a different variant of the old Celtic speech that survives today as modern Gaelic. It wouldn’t be too far off the mark to think of all of these tribal peoples as cousins.


It is interesting to note Caerwyn Williams' relevant remark:

"Chun dul siar beagáinín, dhealródh sé nach raibh, i dtosach ré na Críostaíochta, mórán dífríochta idir an Q-Cheiltis a bhí á labhairt in Eirinn agus an teanga P-Cheilteach a bhí á labhairt sa Bhreatain."
["Going back a bit, It would seem that, at the beginning of the Christian era, there was not much difference between the Q-Celtic spoken in Ireland and the P-Celtic language spoken in Britain."]
(J.E Caerwyn Williams, Traidisiún Liteartha na nGael, An Clóchomhar Tta, 1979)

_______________ _______________ _____________
Quote:
Recent research in history, archaeology and linguistics all strongly suggest that the Scots were most likely natives of Scotland, just like the Picts, and certainly didn’t come over from Ireland in the 5th or 6th century.


Clearly there was a cultural commonality between Ireland and Scotland prior to the 5th Century. Let's not get too myopic about Scotland, imagining the "Scots" and "Picts" sprung fully-formed out of the rocks and heather. Let's remember the European context:

"It would appear that, towards the end of the second millenium BC, they [the Celts] emerged as a culturally distinct people in the region which now lies across the boundaries of Eastern France, northern Switzerland, and south-westen Germany, and began to expand over the area of what is now France into Britain, and possibly Ireland, and southwards into the Iberian Peninsula. From the same central region, aided by iron weapons and, it would appear, a new superiority in transport - almost all Latin terms for vehicles are of Gaulish origin, for example - the Celts began upon a new phase of vigorous expansion in the 5th century BC. In this movement they expanded again over the area of France and into Britain and also reached the Iberian Peninsula. This time, in addition, they were involved in an eastwardly movement through central Europe and the Balkan Peninsula as far as Asia Minor, and southwards into Italy. It was during this period that the Gauls in 390 BC inflicted their famous defeat on the Romans and sacked their city." (The Irish Language, Máirtin Ó Murchú, 1985)
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 08:05
"Celtic" is a culture, not a people. The expansion was of language, technology and ideas, not blood.
 
 
# Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh 2011-08-23 09:59
Quoting Lianachan:
"Celtic" is a culture, not a people. The expansion was of language, technology and ideas, not blood.



Indeed.

Your statement is overly absolutist, of course - for reasons Europeans can well understand and endorse - but in principle the point is taken. Mankind is "one blood" - any differences in populations being superficial and inconsequential .

Likewise, all who inhabit contemporary Scotland and Ireland should choose to support our inherited languages for cultural reasons, rather than on the basis of the ignis fatuus of DNA. For the joy and adventure of it all. Every language being a unique window on reality. We must realize that it is not just for ourselves as Scots, but for all mankind that we need to keep these linguistic windows in our stewardship from getting boarded up by the imperial uniformitarians . The key issue is not DNA, nor Economy (!), but the Republic of the Soul.
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 10:14
Quoting Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh:
Your statement is overly absolutist, of course - for reasons Europeans can well understand and endorse - but in principle the point is taken. Mankind is "one blood" - any differences in populations being superficial and inconsequential .

That wasn't actually my point. My point was that there was no race of Celts who spread out from central Europe to occupy places like Scotland. What expanded out was the culture, and it did so absent the invading hoardes that were once assumed to have transported it.

I agree completely on the preservation of language for cultural reasons, and not economic ones.
 
 
# Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh 2011-08-23 10:23
Sorry for misunderstandin g.
 
 
# Am Fògarrach 2011-08-23 01:08
I have Mr McHardy's book. Its content is very good but its index and bibliography leave something to be desired.

I heartily recommend Alistair Moffat's excellent 'The Faded Map - Lost Kingdoms of Scotland' (Berlinn 2010); and Alistair Moffat and James F. Wilson's fascinating and excellent 'The Scots - A Genetic Journey' (Berlinn 2011). Some knowledge of DNA would be helpful but not necessary for the latter.
 
 
# BeltaneFire 2011-08-23 09:18
I've been meaning to buy Alistair Moffat's book for a while. I have read several of his books, and his depth of knowledge and research is impressive. He also brings a common-sense approach to history, but his subjects never cease to surprise, and his ability to fit myth and folk history together is excellent.

His book on the Arthurian legend is absolutely compelling, and fits nicely with his 'The Wall'; looking at the history of Hadrian's Wall. I imagine 'The Faded Map' continues the journey of the Borders, leading up to his 'The Reivers'.

The man is a legend!
 
 
# Clydey 2011-08-23 11:40
Celt is a term that is used like Brit, wrongly.

The word or term Scot is a misnomer.

Before the Romans invented the Picts the Greeks and Egyptians had already known of them. The Greeks spoke of and feared the Orcadian Pictish Navy. Now I have asked this question many a time. How did the Picts get to these islands all around Scotland in ancient times when we had no sat nav, ferries or planes? I mean come on think about it even today we are talking about some of the roughest seas on Planet Earth. The islands on the West Coast are still to this day dodgy places to navigate.

Checkout the map that was made of Brochs using geographical x-rays. There are thousands of Brochs which spread across Scotland almost in an identical shape to our modern day borders. We don't know who built the Brochs, rubbish. The Picts or whatever they and their ancestors called themselves built the Brochs. I call this our Egypt moment you know how the Egyptians must have come from somewhere else as they were too stupid to have built majestic structures themselves.
There is much more evidence to suggest the Picts and Gaels advanced into Ireland from Scotland rather than the other way around. The exchange of people may have been welcome either way there is no doubt they probably at least traded and had links.

Far too much is made of this West Coast thing. Most of the standing stones if not all of them on the west coast are of Pictish origin. The crosses and other religious symbols on many have been added at a later date. This has been proven under the microscope. Clan Campbell claim to be Pictish in origin funny they hail from Argyll init?

Christianity has a lot to answer for in Scotland. It is also questionable about how it got here in the first place though the latter knowledge that it came via Ireland is where the problems lie.

The info is hardly new and I could go on and on that is what is more annoying. I am no expert (neither are some of the one who claim to be) on the subject more a person with a long interest in this subject. Too much of our history has been told from a Britwashed view and very deliberately. I wouldn’t take much from Irish texts or History either they to are very good at missing out what they don't like.

Online Editor - I've struck through a sentence in this post as an example of the casual racism that will not be tolerated.

You have obviously misunderstood the sentence.
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 13:00
Brochs are my specialist subject, I've been studying them for many years and have visited more than 200 of them. You're over estimating their number, most people would put the total at between 100 and 600 depending on how, exactly, you define what is or isn't a broch in the first place. They were built from the first millenium BCE up until probably around the second century CE, and were built by the locals. They are mainly found in Shetland, Orkney and Caithness, with significant numbers in Skye, the Western Isles and Sutherland. There are small numbers (or isolated examples) in Dumfries and Galloway, in the Stirling area, in Lothian and in Fife. These southern brochs are quite hard to explain, as they are a good bit away from the heartlands of broch building.

I'm not sure what you're getting at about the standing stones. People have been erecting stones for all sorts of reasons for thousands of years. What people mostly think of as standing stones (Calanais, etc) are generally neolithic and considerably pre-date anything that anybody could conceivably describe as "Pictish".
 
 
# Clydey 2011-08-23 14:27
Quoting Lianachan:
Brochs are my specialist subject, I've been studying them for many years and have visited more than 200 of them. You're over estimating their number, most people would put the total at between 100 and 600 depending on how, exactly, you define what is or isn't a broch in the first place. They were built from the first millenium BCE up until probably around the second century CE, and were built by the locals. They are mainly found in Shetland, Orkney and Caithness, with significant numbers in Skye, the Western Isles and Sutherland. There are small numbers (or isolated examples) in Dumfries and Galloway, in the Stirling area, in Lothian and in Fife. These southern brochs are quite hard to explain, as they are a good bit away from the heartlands of broch building.

I'm not sure what you're getting at about the standing stones. People have been erecting stones for all sorts of reasons for thousands of years. What people mostly think of as standing stones (Calanais, etc) are generally neolithic and considerably pre-date anything that anybody could conceivably describe as "Pictish".


I am not over-estimating anything the numbers came from the geographical x-rays carried out the length and breadth of Scotland. From what I remember reading on one island alone there was as many as 100 Brochs which completely surrounded the island like a fort. There are also inland Brochs found high up and some found on the islands of some freshwater Lochs. This is not even taking into account that a lot of Castles are known to be built on the ruins of ancient Brochs/Forts. I suppose it depends as you say what you call a Broch as many call Scara Brae a Broch which blows away your theory of when Brochs were built. Why are the southern Brochs hard to explain? The Brochs are allover the country and you fail to take into consideration that many of these places were looted many times not for their gold but their rock to build Castles, dry stone walls (sad but true) and the fact many others are sunk and remain underground (hence the use of geographical x-rays). It suggests to anyone that where these Brochs are found represented some form of border much as I said like today’s Scotland and were built by the same people.

So who built the standing stones then Martians? On one hand you’re saying the Brochs are built by the locals then you’re saying the standing stones were built by others. Of course depending on what you call a Broch this would mean a possible overlap in time. So who were these others did they beam down from Starship Enterprise then mysteriously disappear? No doubt you will give me some nonsense about no Pictish symbols on the standing stones you mention. Did you use the internet 30 years ago? Did you watch the TV 100 years ago? Did you type messages on a keyboard that show up on a PC monitor 50 years ago? And notice I said ‘We don't know who built the Brochs, rubbish. The Picts or whatever they and their ANCESTORS called themselves built the Brochs’. It’s called evolution.
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 15:33
Nobody, but nobody says Skara Brae is a broch. A broch is a particular kind of building, part of a family of structures known as complex Atlantic roundhouses. There simply are not thousands of them. What you call my theory of when brochs were built is no such thing, it is the result of extremely good archaeological dating evidence. Stone robbing definitely took place, and many brochs (and other sturctures) barely exist at all any more. I suspect you don't actually mean brochs, and are thinking of some other kind of structure or (more likely) group, age or classification of structures. The southern brochs are quite hard to explain because they don't really belong - there is no tradition of building such things, and no earlier structures which show an evolution to full brochs, such as is can be seen in the north. Fully formed brochs suddenly appear in the archaeological record outwith the broch region (but all still within the area of modern Scotland). They were probably built by or with assistance from specialists from the north - there's a good case that can be made for the Lothian ones to have been built by Orcadians, for example.

Kindly indicate where I said that brochs were built by locals, but that standing stones were not. I said no such thing. The people who erected your classic standing stones, your Calanais types, were the local inhabitants of that time - a long time before the term "Pict" could sensibly be used to describe them. They were the ancestors of the Picts, and of us. The Picts also erected stones, for uncertain purpose - these are variously classified according to the type of symbolism on them, which also dates them (Christian symbolism features in the later ones). Standing stones have also been used as boundary markers for thousands of years, right up to the present day.

I agree with you, and have always said, that brochs and standing stones were built by locals.
 
 
# Clydey 2011-08-23 16:18
Quoting Lianachan:
Nobody, but nobody says Skara Brae is a broch. A broch is a particular kind of building, part of a family of structures known as complex Atlantic roundhouses. There simply are not thousands of them.


I have read and heard of Scara Brae being described as the earliest known Broch. So please do not say no-one refers to Scara Brae as a Broch. You are wrong on both accounts.

The use of Atlantic Roundhouse has never sat well with me and the proof is there. One of the amazing things the x-rays proved was that the Brochs were all over Scotland and basically covered the same border as today. The old thinking of Atlantic Roundhouses is more to do with old thinking i.e. the Brochs were only/mainly on the West Coast (Atlantic side). Again your description of a Broch is not exact. A Broch/Fort could be as you described or as part of a wider fortified group of other buildings. The general build of stone is similar in all of these stone buildings and the layout inside. Just because they are not the exact same does not mean they are not Brochs. In different areas the weather was probably another factor in what shape/type of formation they used. Think of it as a flat, bungalow, detached house, etc, etc.

Quoting Lianachan:
The southern brochs are quite hard to explain because they don't really belong - there is no tradition of building such things, and no earlier structures which show an evolution to full brochs, such as is can be seen in the north.


The very fact the Brochs are in Southern Scotland suggests a tradition of them to me. It is also far harder to make that assumption due to the Central/Southern areas being built up areas and having a much more changeable history. I wonder how many of the Castles and stone dyke walls in the central/south areas contain stone from ancient structures.


Quoting Lianachan:
I agree with you, and have always said, that brochs and standing stones were built by locals.


Hooray!!! :o) We agree on more than we disagree I’ll settle for that for now.
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 16:24
I'm honestly not sure you know what a broch actually is, now.

Check the "What is a broch?" section on this link, and you'll see the (very particular) kind of structure that I am talking about.

orkneyjar.com/.../index.html
 
 
# Clydey 2011-08-23 16:32
Quoting Lianachan:
I'm honestly not sure you know what a broch actually is, now.

Check the "What is a broch?" section on this link, and you'll see the (very particular) kind of structure that I am talking about.

orkneyjar.com/.../index.html


I know fine well what a Broch is and have done for a long time. I seriously doubt now that you get the rest.

Oh and from that site you googled - In total, at least 700 brochs.

You said - between 100 and 600.

Hmmmmm
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 17:16
I have been studying brochs for over a decade, have visited over 200 of them and have participated in the excavation of about half a dozen. I didn't google that site, I know the owner and find it a useful resource. I linked to that particular site in this instance, because the "What Is A Broch?" section is a succinct summary. I have contributed to that site in the past, and the estimate of how many brochs there actually are is not unreasonable. What I actually said was that "most people" would give a figure of between one and six hundred, if you recall, so attempting to discredit me in that way reflects badly on you.

Please present sources that back up your claims that there are thousands of brochs all over Scotland, this x-ray survey you mention, and that Skara Brae can be considered a broch by some. Until you can do that, I can't see any point in continuing discussing the matter with you.
 
 
# pa_broon74 2011-08-23 16:34
Ok, I know it isn't a small hard roll...

So go on then, as I understand it; it's a small round fortifyed building?

Beyond that, I haven't got a clue.
 
 
# Holebender 2011-08-23 16:46
Not particularly small, afaik.
 
 
# pa_broon74 2011-08-23 16:54
Nope.

Just looking at them on wiki etc.
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2011-08-23 17:14
A broch was defined when I were a lad as a circular or elliptical defensive structure, constructed using a dry stane technique up to a height of around 10 metres with a characteristic 'bulge' in the outer wall that made escalade difficult.

The outer wall had a space between it and the inner wall whose purpose is still disputed whether for storage or for access to the top of the wall by defenders. Some consider the central area may have been covered by a roof.

Their function appears to have been purely defensive.
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 17:25
What brochs were actually for is hotly debated. I am of the opinion, now the majority opinion, that most of them are not primarily defensive and that they were functional, and very grand, farmhouses that were built to impress. I tend to consider them all individually, rather than try to label them all with a single kind of use. Some of the ones in Shetland, for example, seem to have been situated more for defence than habitation.

In most brochs that survive to any height, it's clear that there was no access to the roof, or a lookout platform or anything like that. You can get out at the top of Mousa, but see my comment about Shetland. There's plenty evidence to suggest that most brochs were roofed.
 
 
# Clydey 2011-08-23 17:48
Quoting Lianachan:
I tend to consider them all individually, rather than try to label them all with a single kind of use. Some of the ones in Shetland, for example, seem to have been situated more for defence than habitation.


Another contradiction.

As for your other request, Google it you are good at that.
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 17:57
No, it isn't a contradiction at all. I have no idea why you have such an attitude problem, but I am disinclined to discuss the matter, or anything else, with you until you learn to conduct yourself with a bit more decorum. Goodbye.
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2011-08-23 17:55
I also read that an architect who has modelled the structure of the broch wall now thinks the space may well have had a hypocaust like effect as well as being an early form of 'cavity wall'.

The modelling suggests that the heat from any fire on the ground floor would have circulated along the cavity to help heat upper floors. Further it would prevent any damp penetration of the inner wall.

It is also possible, given the evidence for brochs (Doon Point) in Dumfries and Galloway that a few of the features marked 'Motte and Baille' - especially on the Galloway coast - on OS maps may well be brochs.

That, is what is fun about history, challenging assumptions to get nearer to what is rather than what folk want it to be.
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 18:00
Indeed, yes. Hot air from a fire would circulate throughout the broch via the intermural space and gaps in the inner wall created partially for that purpose (and also to lessen the weight above lintels). Also, as you say, there's quite a good level of weather protection too.
 
 
# Online Editor 2011-08-23 18:20
Clydey, you have been moderated earlier in this thread for making a racist remark about Egyptions. Your latest comment was removed due to an insulting remark aimed at one or more posters on this thread.

Please take this as a polite warning.
 
 
# Clydey 2011-08-23 18:26
Where is the racist remark please explain as i struggle to see where?
 
 
# Barontorc 2011-08-23 19:20
Clydey - your tongue wasn't firmly enough stuck in your cheek perhaps. I got your Egyptian point.
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 18:45
Quoting Online Editor:
Clydey, you have been moderated earlier in this thread for making a racist remark about Egyptions. Your latest comment was removed due to an insulting remark aimed at one or more posters on this thread.

Please take this as a polite warning.

I noticed the insult before it was removed, and I've been called worse. I guess he didn't notice when I mentioned my extensive field experience of digging brochs.
 
 
# Blanco 2011-08-23 19:55
One of the things I've noticed about the Picts, and not just on this thread. There's nothing except BBC bias that gets pro-independence types going like the Picts. Just a shame there are so few concrete facts out there but mebbe that is why they cause such debate. You just have to work out which facts matter and which are just havers. 
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 20:02
Some of us "pro-independence types" have a perfectly objective and sensible view of the Picts, about which more is known than most people generally assume.
 
 
# Blanco 2011-08-23 21:16
Dinnae fash yersel Lianachan - it's clear enough you're not one of the haverers :)
 
 
# cokynutjoe 2011-08-23 21:51
Girls! Girls! Girls! lighten up,abody kens Fraserburgh is a Broch!
 
 
# Lianachan 2011-08-23 22:18
Fraserburgh is the Broch :-)

It's not me that needs to lighten up, really - I have been persistently insulted for the offence of knowing what I'm talking about, despite trying to move things along politely several times. Until I eventually gave up.
 
 
# west_lothian_questioner 2011-08-23 22:31
The Broch is Burghead.
Fraserburgh is The Ithir Broch
 
 
# pa_broon74 2011-08-23 22:34
So we are agreed?

The Picts came from Egypt and picked up the idea of a brioche on their way through france, the brochs themselves were actually built by space aliens.

Glad we cleared that up. ;-)
 
 
# cokynutjoe 2011-08-24 09:59
Back to the Brochs again, Glasgow Archaeology Society (G.A.S) had a wee dig at Nybster Broch in Caithness this month. www.glasarchsoc.org.uk/.../
 
 
# Pete The Jakey 2011-08-24 13:12
Slightly OT

I clicked onto the Ghàidhlig version out of curiosity, to see what Ghàidhlig looked like, I know I should know but I have never seen it before. Anyway Google translate came up and the bit where it says what language the page is in came up saying it was in IRISH. I just find that insulting that Scottish Gaelic is not recognised as being Scottish.
 
 
# Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh 2011-08-25 21:55
Quoting Pete The Jakey:
Anyway Google translate came up and the bit where it says what language the page is in came up saying it was in IRISH. I just find that insulting that Scottish Gaelic is not recognised as being Scottish.


The reason is not insulting really. Its actually more mechanical. The necessary work has been done by the Irish to enable automatic translation by Google. The equivalent work has not been done by the Scots. One reason being that we are still piddling about regarding a lot of our terminology.
 
 
# colin8652 2011-09-03 15:09
Scots/Pictish origins.

Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today.

Decleration of Arbroath 1320


Recient DNA evidence suggests the ancients knew exactly where we came from.
The chances are that the aincient chronicles refered to were housed in Scone Abbey which was raised to the ground on the orders of Edward Longshanks when he realised that the lump of rock his soldiers had stolen from there was a lump of Perthshire sandstone and not the true stone of destiny which had been hidden by the abbey monks pror to their arrival. This rock lay discarded in Edinburgh castle for five years before his son took it south to westMonster and proclaimed it as the true stone. The real stone is still to be found.
 
 
# cokynutjoe 2011-09-06 10:08
Why the Z rod? if you're a stonemason, a spear is a tricky thing to depict entire. So it's shown with a double joint, a bit like a collapsible walking stick.

Colin, I don't think the Abbey of Scone was razed to the ground by Edward, he apparently ransacked it and nicked the goodies. He did the same at the neighbouring Abbey of Cupar, installing some English monks
 

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