Who were the Picts?

Researching my ancestry has sparked the idea for a new book which is set in the Hebrides during the first century A.D.  That has fed into hours of study about the Picts.  The result?  I’m almost as confused about their identity as when I first began.


St. Columba Altarpiece — Missionary to the Picts 

That’s not because little has been written about them.  On the contrary, these tribes of northern Scotland and of the western islands have a mysterious cachet that has captured popular imagination.  There are any number of novels, articles, movies, and studies which mention the Picts.

They, themselves, did not leave many writings, at least not many that have been identified as such and also translated.  Their contemporaries did describe them, but some of these historians may have seen the Picts through their own cultural bias.  This seems to be the case today, as well.  Various novelists or script writers present them as savage, as civilized, as pagan, as eager for the Christian truth, etc., depending on the author’s point of view.  So, it seems that the Picts (the painted people) have become a canvas on which many imaginations have drawn numerous, conflicting images.

Naturally, societies change over centuries, and I have no doubt that the Pictish culture evolved, as well.  Here again, it’s hard to nail down exactly what might have been going on in their world during the time that they were kept north of the Roman Walls.  The Picts of several centuries B.C., the Picts of Roman times, and the Picts of the late middle ages are most likely very different.  Yet, some writings do not take this into account.

Here is one lovely recent discovery about the Picts:  The Truth About the Picts.    Findings at a place called Portmahomack indicate that the Picts did, in time, create a society that was far more advanced than they have been credit for.  This society reflected not only their Christian faith, but their love of art, nature, and beauty.  I hope you will enjoy reading about these fascinating people.

Happy Reading!


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