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Picts, ancient inhabitants of central and N Scotland, of uncertain origin. First mentioned (A.D. 297) by the Roman writer Eumenius as northern invaders of Roman Britain, they were probably descendants of late Bronze Age and early Iron Age invaders of Britain. Their language is thought to have been a superimposition of Celtic on a pre-Celtic and non-Indo-European language, but there is no undisputed interpretation of it or their culture. By the early 7th cent. there was a unified Pictish kingdom north of a line from the Clyde to the Forth rivers. It apparently had a matrilinear system of succession and had probably adopted Celtic Christianity. To the south of the Picts, Scottish invaders from Ireland had established the kingdom of Dalriada in the 5th cent. Between 843 and 850 Kenneth I, king of Dalriada, established himself also as king of the Picts, although how and why is not clear. The kingdom of Alba thus formed became the kingdom of Scotland.


See W. C. Dickinson, Scotland from the Earliest Times to 1603 (rev. ed. 1965); I. Henderson, Picts (1967); A. B. Scott, The Pictish Nation (1977).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Latin Picti), a group of tribes that constituted the ancient population of Scotland. The Picts continually made raids on Roman Britain, reaching London in the 360’s. In the sixth century they were converted to Christianity by the Irish missionary Columban. In the mid-ninth century they were conquered by the Scots and were assimilated by them.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"It could be that we are seeing an alliance between the Picts and local Britons - two crests coming together, almost like a coat of arms," Toolis said.
The storyline is exceptionally simple and chronicles the life of a centurion, together with a few Roman buddies, the only survivors of a Pict massacre, who are continuously hunted by a female tracker, Elain, whose traumatic history at Roman hands has emotionally scarred her for life; she is described by a Pict necromancer as having "a soul which is an empty vessel--to be filled with Roman blood".
Centurion (yes, that's the title) Quintus Dias, the sole survivor of a raid on a Roman frontier fort, is rescued by the Ninth Legion after being captured by the Picts and amazingly makes his escape through the snow with his hands bound and without a shirt.
Deep in the Scottish woods when the Ninth Legion is ambushed by the blue-painted warriors the order is given for the soldiers to hold the line - even when the Picts rain great balls of fire down on them.
Neil Marshall's brutal action-packed tale of battle-hardened Roman soldiers being hunted down by clever Picts is stirringly old-fashioned stuff.
To help them find the Picts' leader, Gorlacon (Danish thesp Ulrich Thomsen), the Ninth is using mute Pict woman Etain (Olga Kurylenko, "Quantum of Solace").
This would seem to leave the Scots with no money, no oil and nothing to do except turn blue and disappear into the mists like the Picts. Let them have Berwick say I, just as long as they take Brown and Darling as part of the deal.
On its completion the PICTS programme asked participating universities and colleges to submit their best students for assessment by a panel organised by programme manager Sian Dunning, at Staffordshire University.
First were the Cruithni Picts, followed by the Goedels and the Brythons, each superimposing their language and culture on the other.
The times he lives in are transitional: Norsemen are raiding the coastal settlements, making pacts with or fighting the Picts and others, settling where they can and defending their territory from other Norsemen.
Though Bran Mak Morn is the prime player of this collection, as he stars in three of the short stories and is a feature star of the Miscellanea Part two section, this compilation is more accurately described as a deep look at the author's "Lost Race": the Picts. The compilation is fabulously enhanced by the illustrations of Gary Gianni that bring even more to life Howard's blending of fantasy and history in this case, the ancient world of the Picts.
What about the early Britons, Romans, Jutes, Picts, Danes and Normans who invaded England too?