Reader, my writing and research leads me on a merry, if sometimes confusing, trail.
Much of my reading lately has been centred on the Picts and where and how they lived. Not bad considering the Picts must be the most enigmatic people that I’ve ever heard of.
The Romans called them the “Picti” as in painted ones. Does this mean they loved to paint themselves or portraits? This is the question, and no one can really be sure.
An anonymous Norwegian said they were little people. “The Picts were little more than pygmies in stature. They worked marvels in the morning and evening building towns, but at midday they entirely lost their strength and lurked through fear in little underground houses.” Really?
The big bad Vikings were afraid of them, and “dared not land because of beings like elves or trolls bearing shining spears”.
Reader I think the Picts were just people, doing their thing, carving rocks and making jewellery. Lets face it, they must have lived a reasonably stable existence to have such well developed artistic skills.
If they were constantly waring they’d hardly have had time to make moulds and cast the beautiful silver pins, chains and brooches we still have today. Not to mention the monumental carved stones that are scattered all over Scotland.
Well they wouldn’t, would they?
Apparently they had no written language, but again, there are accounts from Bede that messengers were sent from the Pictish King to an abbot in Northumbrian monasteries asking for advice on Church matters in 710AD. The reply was sent with instructions to be “immediately sent out under public order to all provinces of the Picts to be copied, learned, and adopted”. If it wasn’t sent to the Pictish monasteries, to be forwarded on, then who would it have been sent to.
Then there is the Book of the Kells, the illustrated gospels created in a monastery in eastern Pictland. The style is very similar to the Pictish stone carving and other art work, so perhaps they did write, and either no copies remain, or we don’t recognise them as identifiably Pictish. Who knows? Certainly not me, but I do find it endlessly fascinating. So much so, reader, that I’m in dire need of more shelving to contain all the books I’ve been ordering online.
Had you heard of the Picts before I started on about them? I feel like I’ve known of them forever, but then I’ve been researching the far north of Scotland for almost 10 years, so they’ve been on my radar for probably, about, that long.