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The Picts

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Picts who, according to Bede, formed one of the five nations of Britain, with the English, Britons, Scots and Latins, but who disappeared.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The Picts and, to mark our twentieth season, that discussion takes place in front of a student audience at the University of Glasgow, many of them studying this topic. According to Bede writing c731AD, the Picts, with the English, Britons, Scots and Latins, formed one of the five nations of Britain, 'an island in the ocean formerly called Albion'. The Picts is now a label given to the people who lived in Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde line from about 300 AD to 900 AD, from the time of the Romans to the time of the Vikings. They left intricately carved stones, such as the one above with a bull motif, from Burghead, Moray, Scotland, but there are relatively few other traces. Who were they, and what happened to them? And what has been learned in the last twenty years, through archaeology?


Katherine Forsyth
Reader in the Department of Celtic and Gaelic at the University of Glasgow

Alex Woolf
Senior Lecturer in Dark Age Studies at the University of St Andrews


Gordon Noble
Reader in Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

57 minutes

Last on

Thu 9 Nov 2017 21:30



Katherine Forsyth at the University of Glasgow

Alex Woolf at the University of St Andrews

Gordon Noble at the University of Aberdeen

The Pictish Arts Society

Discover the Picts - National Museums of Scotland

Virtual Cradle of Scotland exhibition

The Picts: A learning resource - Forestry Commission of Scotland

The Northern Picts project - University of Aberdeen

‘Some thoughts on Pictish symbols as a formal writing system’, by Katherine Forsyth (1995)

‘Language in Pictland: The case against ‘Non-Indo-European’ Pictish’ by Katherine Forsyth - Studia Hameliana, 2. De Keltiche Draak, 1997

‘Literacy in Pictland’ by Katherine Forsyth (1998)

‘Perceptions of the Picts: From Eumenius to John Buchan’ by Anna Ritchie - Groam House Museum Lecture, 1993

The Monumental Cemeteries of Northern Pictland – Taylor Francis Online

Picts - Wikipedia



Leslie Alcock, Kings and Warriors, Craftsmen and Priests in Northern Britain AD 550-850 (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 2003)

Alice Blackwell, Martin Goldberg and Fraser Hunter, Scotland’s Early Silver (National Museums of Scotland, 2017)

David Clarke, Alice Blackwell and Martin Goldberg, Early Medieval Scotland: Individuals, Communities and Ideas (National Museums of Scotland, 2012)

Stephen T. Driscoll, Jane Geddes and Mark A. Hall (eds.), Pictish Progress: New Studies on Northern Britain in the Early Middle Ages (Brill, 2010)

Sally M. Foster, Picts, Gaels and Scots: Early Historic Scotland (Birlinn Ltd, 2014)

Iain Fraser (ed.), The Pictish Symbols of Scotland (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 2008)

James Fraser, From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795 (Edinburgh University Press, 2009)

George Henderson and Isabel Henderson, The Art of the Picts: Sculpture and Metalwork in Early Medieval Scotland (Thames and Hudson, 2011)

David Henry (ed.), The Worm, the Germ and the Thorn: Pictish and Related Studies Presented to Isabel Henderson (Pinkfoot Press, 1997)

Gilbert Markus, Conceiving a Nation: Scotland to 900 AD (Edinburgh University Press, 2017)

Huw Pryce (ed.), Literacy in Medieval Celtic Societies (Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Alex Woolf, From Pictland to Alba: Scotland, 789-1070 (Edinburgh University Press, 2007)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Katherine Forsyth
Interviewed Guest Alex Woolf
Interviewed Guest Gordon Noble
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 9 Nov 2017 09:00
  • Thu 9 Nov 2017 21:30

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