The Romans left Britain never having conquered Scotland. When the
Romans first arrived, there were 17 Tribes, within 250 years there were
FOUR main People. |
The most enigmatic of these people were the Picts who ruled the north,
east and most of central Scotland. Originally a coastal people, like so
many of the early tribes, these early Celtic people left no written
language, no records of their descendency, which was through the female
line. They were, in time, after mixing with other cultures, assimilated in
with the new settlers and cultures. But in their height of power , the
north and south Pictish culture was a rich and powerful one. Their
Federated Kingdom, stretched from the Pictland hills to the Pentland
They left ornate symbol stones and advanced practices of art and culture
as well as a formidable military. Proof of a cultured people, that there
can be no doubt, and they were an older Celtic race than either the Irish
or the Scots. Unfortunately, their form of the Gaelic language was much
different from that of the Scots, Irish, Welsh and other Celtic races in
Britain, and with no written history of the Picts, little else is known.
Other settlers came in from the coasts or from the Continent (mainland
Europe) and carved out their own territories. The second of the four main
groups left after the Romans, were the Britons or the Britons of
Strathclyde. They would dominate the west of lower Scotland and some of
England. Their lands stretched through Strathclyde south through Cumbria
to Wales. This is most likely the Celtic people that helped settle Wales,
or at the very least were strongly associated with the Welsh both in
culture and language.
The third group, the Angles, from Germany settled southeast Scotland and
portions of England. Warlike and hungry for land they drove out the
Britons living near them, and carved out their kingdom. The Angles were
the only non-Celtic race of the four main early settlers of Scotland. And
this would prove to be a major problem for the Celts later on.
Lastly, the Fourth Tribe came to settle Scotland. They were also known as
a warlike people, descended from Ireland. The origins of their name --
Scots -- is beleived to be a corrupted form of Scottus or Scotti , which
meant "raiders". A Celtic, warrior, combative and expansive race, the
Scots came in about 500 A.D. Dalriada (Dal Riata) was the Kingdom of the
Scots and stretched from east Ireland through the Western Isles to Argyll,
in western Scotland.
Scotland Gets Christianity
Much of Scotland became Christian long before England. Due initially to a
Monk names Ninian or Saint Ninian. He was born around 350 A.D., a Briton,
he went to the Continent where he was ordained a priest, came back to
Scotland and evangelized Galloway and the Southern Picts at Fife and
Perthshire. Ninian's followers may have taken the new faith as far north
as the Shetland Islands.
The Scots of Dalriada had Irish missionaries of their own. St. Oran
probably established the first monastery at Iona. But St. Columba from
Donegal, was the missionary who made the Scots a dominate Tribe. Legend
has it that Columba came to Iona because of a copy he made of a psalter
(holy book) without the owner's permission, and the man he borrowed it
from took the law against St. Columba and won the case. So Columba, taking
a vow, left for Scotland in exile. That is the legend, but most likely,
it was simply Irish Monasticism that was expanding.
Saint Columba arrived in Scotland, from Ireland, in about 563 A.D. with
twelve followers. He was a skilled politician and helped the Scots, who
owed allegiance to an Irish King, become independent from mainland
Ireland, (Columba had Royal blood on both sides and this no doubt helped),
by using his new Faith and royal connections he helped the Scots to
establish Argyll in Western Scotland as an independent Kingdom. It is worth
noting the legend that an alleged famous Scottish creature, now known as
"Nessie" was quelled by Columba as he and his ship attempted to
cross the water. The veracity of this story is unproven, but the legend
has earned a place in Scottish and Celtic tradition.
The Irish Celtic Church was Monastic, unlike the great religious houses
that were to come to Scotland in the middle ages. Strict, it demanded
poverty and obedience from its clergy who were Monks, not Priests.
Lonely Islands, sought after sights for new monasteries. Conversion to
Christianity brought a flowering of Christian and Celtic art, notably
from the Picts.
Irish Monasticism and traditional Celtic lore, became the new Faith. This,
of course, would not be tolerated by the Roman Church.
Oswald, King of Northumbria was converted to the Celtic Church while
at Iona. He invited Aiden, (one of St. Columba's disciples), to set up a
Monastery at Lindesfairne off the coast of Northumbria. However, Oswald's
Anglo-Saxon Queen was a follower of the the Church of Rome, not Ireland.
The differences, aside from the pagan lore in the Irish church, were that
the Irish Church was organized on Monastic tribal basis, the Roman Church,
(most all converted Christians were Roman Church followers), they had
territorial Bishops and considerable differences of rite, but the MAIN
difference, was that the Irish Celtic Church held on to the old system of
calculating Easter, and found themselves out of line with the rest of
Christendom. In 663, King Oswald of Northumbria, invited representatives
of the two church's to Yorkshire to resolve the dilemma.
Oswald's decision to go with the Roman Church over Irish Monasticism changed
not only Northumbria, (northern England), but also Scotland. Roman Orthodoxy
replaced Celtic Monasticism. Christianity was a new and powerful magic to the
people, Holy Relics of Columba and his disciples were venerated.
In 732, the bones of Saint Andrew were brought to Scotland. One of the twelve
Apostles, Andrew became Scotlands's Patron Saint. But a refugee Angle form
Hexum in England brought the Relics to the heart of Pictland. (Kilriman and
Fife), which later became the Cathedral town -- St. Andrews.
Elsewhere in Scotland, around Glasgow, the Gospel was brought independenly
by Kentigern. Kentigern was a Briton (of Strathclyde) , and there was very
little contact among the Christian streams, British and Irish or Celtic. At
this time, there were three main cultural strains in Scotland: the Picts, the
Scots and the Angles, and the new religion did little to bring them together.
The Britons were already being chased out by the Angles and Saxons and sought
refuge in Brittany and to a lesser extent, in Wales.
In future centuries, religion was to become a Scottish, and English,
The Celtic and Roman Churches are still in disagreement today on many
aspects of church functions and dates.
On 20 May 685, the Picts had been threatened by the Angles of Northumbria,
who were trying to increase their lands to the north. At the battle of
Nechtansmere, the Picts defeated the Angles and put pay to any further
Northumbrian (Angle) northward expansion. The border was set. Had the
battle gone the other way, a Nation called Scotland might never have
happened at all.