An article from

'The Topographical, Statistical, and Historical Gazetteer of Scotland'

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848

The Picts

PICTS (THE). Many conjectures have been hazarded as to the derivation of the term Pict; but of this there can be no doubt, that the Picts were Celts, and that they were no other than a part of the race of the ancient Caledonians under another name. Of the twenty-one distinct tribes which inhabited Korth Britain, at the time of the Roman invasion, the most powerful was that of the Caledonii, or Caledonians, who inhabited the whole of the interior country, from the ridge of mountains which separates Inverness and Perth on the south, to the range of hills that formed the forest of Balnagowan in Ross on the north, comprehending all the middle parts of Inverness and of Ross; but in process of time the whole population of North Britain were designated by the generic appellation of Caledonians, though occasionally distinguished by some classic writers, proceeding on fanciful notions, by the various names of Mæatæ, Dicaledones, Vecturiones, and Picti. At the time of the Roman abdication, the Caledonians, or Picts were under the sway of a chieftain, named Drust, the son of Erp, who, for his prowess in his various expeditions against the Roman provincials, has been honoured by the Irish Annalists, with the name of 'Drust of the hundred battles.' History, however, has not done him justice, for it has left little concerning him on record. In fact, little is known of the Pictish history for upwards of one hundred years, immediately after the Roman abdication. Although some ancient chronicles afford us lists of the Pictish kings, or princes, a chronological table of whom, according to the best authorities, is here subjoined:


  Names and Filiations Period of their Deaths.
1 Drust, the son of Erp 451
2 Talore, the son of Aniel 455
3 Naeton Morbet, the son of Erp 480
4 Drest Gurthinmoch 610
5 Galanau Etelich 522
6 Dadrest 523
7 Drest, the son nf Girom 524
  Drest, the son of Wdrest, with the former 529
  Drest, the son ot Girom, alone 534
8 Gartuarch, the son of Girom 541
9 Gealtraim, the son of Girom 542
10 Talorg, the son of Muircholaich 553
11 Drest, the son of Munait 554
12 Galam, with Aleph 555
  Galam, with Bridei 556
13 Bridei, the son of Maileon 586
14 Gartnaich, the son of Domelech 597
15 Nectu, the nephew of Verb 617
16 Cineoch, the son of Luthrin 636
17 Garnard, the son of Wid 640
18 Bridei, the son of Wid 645
19 Talorc, their brother 657
20 Tallorcan, the son of Enfret 661
21 Gartnait, the son of Donnel 667
22 Drest, his brother 674
23 Bridei, the son of Bili 695
24 Taran, the son of Entifidich 699
25 Bridei, the son of Dereli 710
26 Nechton, the son of Dereli 725
27 Drest, and Elpin 730
28 Ungus, the son of Urguis 761
29 Bridei, the son of Urguis 763
3O Ciniod, the son of Wredech 775
31 Elpin, the son of Bridei 779
32 Drest, the son of Talorgan 784
33 Talorgan, the son of Ungus 786
34 Canaul, the son of Tarli 791
35 Constantin, the son of Urguis 821
36 Ungus (Hungus), the son of Urguis 833
37 Drest, the son of Constantin, and Talorgan, the son of Wthoil 836
38 Uen, the son of Ungus 839
39 Wrad, the son of Bargoit 842
40 Bred 843

We have already observed that little is known of Pictish history for more than a hundred years after the Roman abdication; but at the time of the accession of Bridei in 556 to the Pictish throne, some light is let in upon that dark period of the Pictish annals. The reign of that prince was distinguished by many warlike exploits, but above all by his conversion and that of his people to Christianity, which indeed formed his greatest glory. His chief contests were with the Scoto-Irish or Dalriads, whom he defeated in 557. Passing over a domestic conflict, at Lindores in 621, under Cineoch the son of Luthrin, and the trifling battle of Ludo-Feirn in 663 among the Picts themselves, we must notice the important battle of Dun-Nechtan, fought in the year 685, between the Picts under Bridei; son of Bili, and the Saxons under the Northumbrian Egfrid. The Saxon king, it is said, attacked the Picts without provocation, and against the advice of his court. Crossing the Forth from Lothian —the Bernicia of that age -he entered Strathearn and penetrated through the defiles of the Pictish kingdom, leaving fire and desolation in his train. His career was stopped at Dun-Nechtan, 'the hill-fort of Nechtan,' the Dunnichen of the present times; and by a neighbouring lake long known by the name of Nechtan's mere, did Egfrid and his Saxons fall before Bridei and his exasperated Picts. The Picts were, however, finally defeated by the Saxons, in 710, under Beorthfryth, in Mananfield, when Bridei, the Pictish king, was killed. The wars between the Picts and Northumbrians were succeeded by various contests for power among the Pictish princes, which gave rise to a civil war. Ungus, honoured by the Irish Annalists with the title of Great, and Elpin, at the head of their respective partisans, tried their strength at Moncrib, in Strathearn, in the year 727, when the latter was defeated. The conflict was renewed at Duncrei, when victory declared a second time against Elpin, who was obliged to flee from the hostility of Ungus. Nechtan next tried his strength with Ungus, in 728, at Moncur, in the Carse of Gowrie, but he was defeated, and many of his followers perished. Ungus, who was certainly by far the most powerful and ablest of the Pictish monarchs, died in 761. A doubtful victory was gained by Ciniod the Pictish king over Aodh-fin, the Scottish king, in 767. Up to this period, the pirate kings of the northern seas —or the Vikingr, as they were termed —had confined their ravages to the Baltic; but, in the year 787, they for the first time appeared on the east coast of England. Some years afterwards they found their way to the Caledonian shores, and during the 9th century they ravaged the Hebrides. In 839, the Vikingr entered the Pictish territories. A murderous conflict ensued between them and the Picts under Uen their king, in which both he and his only brother Bran, as well as many of the Pictish chiefs, fell. This event hastened the downfall of the Pictish monarchy: and as the Picts were unable to resist the arms of Kenneth, the Scottish king, he carried into execution, in the year 843, a project he had long entertained, of uniting the Scots and Picts, and placing both crowns on his head.(1)

{1 The ridiculous story about the total extermination of the Picts by the Scots has long since been exploded. They were recognised as a distinct people even in the 10th century, but before the 12th they lost their characteristic nominal distinction by being amalgamated with the Scots, their conquerors.}





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