Canticle for a lost Nation—Pictish Roots Surface in Stone, Royal Forests & Names



With current miraculous advances in technological research, drone photography, virtual reconstruction and archaeological scan-not-disturb techniques—alongside deeply cultural linguistic memory and placename derivation we are blessed to step into an earlier age and relive our ancestors’ route to stewardship of the sacred landscape—game-forests filled with wolf, boar and deer; fertile river straths and falls for salmon, trout and  duck; Sacred dolphin (Pictish ‘beast’) breathing air in the waters of Moray Firth. Bulls were guardians of Tarvedunum, Burghead.

In AD368, Ammianus Marcellinus described tribes of the Priteni [Picts] split into two by the Mounth: northern Dicalydones and Verturiones in the south. To Roman authors, Priteni-Britanni were linguistically just another people of Prydein. By the post-Roman Dark Age, AD420 on, Caledonians had repossessed their northern pine forests, the Fortriu people their rich landholdings in Perth, Strathearn and the Kingdom of Fife.

Bronze replica of Deskford Carnyx battlehorn Pictish tribes’ warcry-sounding call to advance on invading Roman army; found Banffshire bog inland Hill of Durn, Castle of Fordyce, Tor of Troup coastal Findlater fionn-leittir stronghold of the white (gleaming sacred, kingly)slope

Trajan’s Column, in Roman forum depicts Carnyx being blown by #Barbarians

It helps to remember that Scotland’s parish system, discarded in current maps, used to transmit a clear layout of medieval churchlands, themselves descended from earlier chapels, attached to Pictish strongholds.

By the seventh century Pictish kings were fully Christian, educated from youth in the cultural milieu of a monastery. In the centuries before Gaelic became a court language, it was the language of the ScotsIrish. More significantly, it was the language of Irish monastics, keepers of annals, copiers of sacred texts, educators of the nobility.

Devorguilablog: view from the Pictish citadel


Pictish legacy in museum case

 For a nation proud of its heritage, its oral tradition and roots – supported by faithful descendants in all corners of the globe – we Northeast Scots are remarkably careless with it.

In part this stems from a history of being conquered. But suppressed belief and myth have a way of being treasured: a precious relic to be hidden from secular eyes.

While great historical documents may have been lost in centuries of ‘acquisition’ or political manipulation by other cultures, there is an element of keeping knowledge of the Dark Age dark – maintaining in recesses of the mind secrets rehearsed in saga and song known – at least in the historical Pictish era – to all.

This was a people glad to be left behind in AD410 when the Romans walked out, left to themselves in a rich land with its own ancient culture.

Trajan's Column in the Forum, Rome

Picture a Roman legion…

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