The People &
Language of Early Scotland
The Picts were perhaps the last of the free Britons by the time the
Roman Empire packed up and went home. Therefore it is likely that the
Picts in the north spoke a similar language and shared a similar culture
to the Britons of the south of Scotland, who spoke a form of old Welsh.
Although history has lost the Pictish language, many clues remain to deciphering
the culture in the wealth of Pictish symbol stones littered around the
Scottish countryside along with a form of alphabet called Ogham, which
was developed originally in Ireland, showing that the Gaelic influence
on the Picts is a lot older than was previously thought.
Take a video
tour of the mysterious Pictish symbol stones.
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Stone Picture Gallery
from the Meigle Museum near Perth. These two pictures
are in fact of the same stone (the back of the stone on
the left, the front on the right). This is stone No. 2
at the Meigle Museum, with depictions of huntsmen, warriors,
a centaur and a Christian scene from the story of Daniel
in the lion's den. This stone dates from the ninth century.
Stone in Morayshire in the form of a Pictish cross-slab shows two
sea monsters facing each other, a decorative creature, a double disc
and a 'Z' rod. There is also some Ogham on the stone, which spells out
the name Ethernan. The stone dates back to around the
back of a Pictish cross-slab found at a ruined church at Invergowrie
in Perthshire, dated from the ninth century. The three figures represent clerics who hold
books. The central figure appears to be holding a censer, used for burning
incense. Below are two dragons eating each other's tails.
Inchyra Stone with a clear Ogham inscription. The Ogham here spells SETU - as is the case
with most Pictish Ogham, the script is unintelligible when transliterated
using Latin letters.