Scotland: Rise of the Picts


Celtic Picts of Scotland

4th century Roman Britain, saw the rise of the Picts, a band of savage warriors, created from the tribes of Caledonia.  These picts tattooed their bodies and embellished themselves with war paint.

To the Picts, the Romans were their enemy, and any chance they had, they stormed Hadrian’s Wall, creating a serious threat from the north.

Constantius Chlorus campaigned through the land designated as Pictland in 305.  His sons Constantine marched north in 312 and Constans in 342, and still the Picts kept coming.

In 360 the Picts and Scottish forces breached Hadrian’s Wall, over-run Roman Britain and reached Londinium in the south.

The year 367 proved to be a disastrous year for Romans in Britain: Picts and Scottish forces headed south, crossing over Hadrian’s Wall and into Britain, whilst Scotii from Ireland, crossed the Irish Sea attacking western Britain.  The south and eastern coasts came under attack by Saxons and franks.

Roman forces were unable to withstand attacks from all sides at the same time.

Social order in Roman Britain collapsed, as Roman slaves took their revenge; plundering Roman buildings, and setting them alight.  Many inhabitants lost their lives to attacking warriors.

In 369, General Theodosius was commissioned to regain Roman presence, and carry out repairs to Hadrian’s Wall.

By the end of 370, order had been restored to Roman Britain.  Coastal forts, towers and beacons were installed along coastal areas.

In 382, Emperor Maximus believed he had routed out the Picts and destroyed them all… how wrong he was!

In 383 Hadrian’s Wall was breached again by the Picts.

In 407 the Western Empire of Rome suffered onslaughts of their own by the Goths and Huns.  As the Roman’s left, the Picts openly crossed Hadrian’s Wall in their hundreds into Britain.

celtic-pict-drawing(Image) Celtic Picts of Scotland: HubPages
(Images) Pict Woman Drawing + Tattoos


Queen Boudicca


Queen Boudicca

Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni
had her lands by marriage
taken from her, by the Romans.

She watched on, helplessly
as her daughter’s virginity
were taken from them.

Anger seeped through her body
her daughter’s had been defiled
she wanted justice…

She rose up out of revenge
demanding justice and payment
in Roman blood…

Wikipedia Image

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne


Lindisfarne Priory

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, is located off the north-eastern coast of England.  It became a centre for Celtic Christianity under the Saints of Aidan, Cuthbert, Eadfrith and Eadbert, with a reputation for healing the sick, using herbs.

The old English name was Lindisfarena, as recorded by the Parker Chronicle and Peterborough Chronicle of 793.  How the name Lindisfarne originated is unknown, but it may be Celtic in origin.  For Lindis means stream or pool, a reference to a small river or lake on the island.  Faren, from the nearby Farne Islands … But is no more than pure guess work.

The island measures 2¼ miles x 1½ miles, comprising of some 1,000 acres, and located two miles off the north-east coast of England, and close to Scotland’s border.  Access is at low-tide only, by crossing the sand and mud flats.

An Irish monk; Saint Aidan was dispatched on a pilgrimage, from the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland to Northumbria, at the request of King Oswald (604-642) to restore Christianity to the area.

So it was in 634 a priory was founded, and became the only seat of a bishopric in Northumbria for best part of thirty years.

Bishop Finian built the first church on the site, which was constructed of timber and thatched reeds.  Some years later Bishop Eadbert removed the thatch, and the walls and thatch were covered in lead.

Lindisfarne, became known as a holy place, and Monks from the Irish community of Iona settled there.

Saint Cuthbert, patron saint of Northumbria was a monk originally, and later became abbot of the monastery, and eventually Bishop of Lindisfarne.  The oldest piece of writing; An anonymous life of Cuthbert, about the man and his miracles was written at Lindisfarne between 685-704 AD.

Originally buried at Lindisfarne, his remains were exhumed in the late 9th century when he was moved to Durham Cathedral along with Bishop Eadfrith and Bishop Eadbert.

Saint Cuthbert’s shrine at Durham Cathedral became the centre of pilgrimage, attracting people far and wide visiting the shrine of this man of God.

In 1539-1539, was a hard time for our religious buildings, it was the time of the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” tearing down and destroying much, within our churches, cathedrals and priory’s.

In 1827, Saint Cuthbert’s grave was opened, and enclosed within were a number of artefacts dating back to his time on Lindisfarne:

A Pectoral Crosss, made of gold and mounted with garnets and tracery, as worn against the chest.

An Elephant’s ivory comb.  An embossed silver Travelling Altar.

Other items were removed from the shrine in 1104.

A Paten; a silver or gold plate as used for bread during communion.

Scissors.  A Gold and Onyx Chalice.  St.Cuthbert’s Gospel, decorated and embossed with leather bindings.

In the year 735, the Northern Ecclesiastical Province of England was formed, with the Archbishopric located at York, and became head for Hexham, Lindisfarne and Whithorn.  Lindisfarne’s diocese consisted of; Strathclyde, Lothian, Northern Northumbria and Cumbria.

Around 698-721 AD, an illustrated set of gospels were produced in latin (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John) believed to have been the works of Bishop Eadfrith, and duly named the “Lindisfarne Gospels.”

A 10th century Monk named Aldred, added Anglo-Saxon gloss to the text, to enhance the works.  The gospels themselves were bound by Ethelwald, and a hermit named Billfrith, covered them in a metal case.  These exquisite gospels, nearly thirteen hundred years old can be found in the British Library.

The year 793, and recorded records spoke of excessive winds, lightning and fiery dragons across the skyline.  This was followed by a period of famine across the land.

Without warning, Vikings, a race of seafaring and barbaric fighters landed on Lindisfarne, destroying all that lay in their path.  These heathens poured out blood of the saints around the altar.  By 866 they had battled their way across England with little resistance.

Any remaining monks fled the island of Lindisfarne and carried the bones of Saint Cuthbert with them.

The Lindisfarne Priory was rebuilt by the Normans in 1093 as a Benedictine House, located on a different site, whilst the original priory site was used for the parish church built out of stone.  Remains of the Saxon church still exist as the chancel wall and arch.  The nave was extended in the 12th century.

In 1492 during the “Wars of the Roses,” it is said 400 troops seeked shelter on Lindisfarne during a storm at sea, and surrendered to the Yorkists.

Like so many monastic buildings, the “Dissolution of the Monasteries,” in 1539, left the buildings on the island ransacked, until the restoration of 1860.

The restored church is built of coloured sandstone, and the north aisle is referred to as the “Fisherman’s Aisle,” which houses the altar of St.Peter.  The south aisle formerly held the altar of St.Margaret of Scotland, but now houses the church organ.

Wikipedia Image

Britain and the Celts


Celt Farm

Iron Age, saw much warfare among the Celtic tribes, in this land of ours, requiring the construction of many hill forts.  These Celts were true warriors in every sense of the word, for they fought from horses or wooden chariots, and threw spears and fought with swords, and carried wooden shields.  Some even wore chain mail for added protection.

The Celts were an accomplished race of people, they were much more than farmers, for they could pick up a weapon and fight for their people.  Many of their number were blacksmiths, bronze smiths, carpenters, whilst others worked with leather and made pottery.  They also created elaborate jewellery from gold and precious stones.

They took their art further, by adding artistic designs made from metal, leather and precious stones to their swords, daggers and shields.

Celtic society was organised, based on the part you played within your designated tribe.  At the head would be the King or Chieftain, and next in line, the nobles, followed by the craftsmen, then the farmers and warriors, last in line would be the Celtic slaves.

Trade with European countries, was an important part of everyday life to them.  Copper, tin and iron, along with skins, grain and wool were exported.  In turn they imported fine pottery and quality metal goods.  Celtic currency started out as iron bars, and by 50 BC they had switched to gold coins.

Celtic houses were round in design, with a central pole, with horizontal poles radiating outwards.  Walls made of wattle and daub, with a thatched roof.  They made dyes from plants; weld for yellow, woad for blue and madder for red.

The Druids were the priests of the Celtic people, and played an important part in their lives.  These druids were scholars and advisors to the Celtic Kings, who worshipped more than one God.

During Celtic times, the old tradition of building barrows for the dead was phased out, and replaced with individual graves.  Yet, some parts of tradition still carried on; the practice of burying grave goods with the dead, what was required by him to gain access to the afterlife. (A similar practice to that carried out by the Pharaoh’s in Ancient Egypt).

The main Celtic festivals were:

Imbolc in early February, start of lambing season.

Beltane in early May, cattle let out, after being under cover all  winter.

Lughasad in August, crops right for harvesting.

Samhain in November, animals moved undercover for winter.

The Celts were no match for the warriors of Rome, and were defeated by the might of Julius Caesar in 55 BC and again in 54 BC.  The Roman’s withdrew from Britain, as the Celts agreed to pay Rome an annual payment.

In 43 AD the Romans invaded Britain under Empereor Claudius with Aulus Plautius their supreme leader.  The Romans and Celts faced each other in battle, but resistance to these Roman invaders proved futile.  By 47 AD the Romans had control of Britain from the River Humber to the River Severn.

The Celtic Iceni tribe in East Anglia rebelled against these Roman warriors.  A deal was struck and their King’s retained their position at head of their tribes, and accepted Roman Rule.

Only one leader refused to accept Roman Rule: Queen Boudicca.  For it was upon the death of the Iceni King, the Kingdom was left to his wife Boudicca and Emperor Nero, but Nero wanted it all.  Boudicca was appointed leader by the Celts and led an army of 100,000 warriors, and burned Colchester, St.Albans and London to the ground with no survivors.  Her army met the Romans in battle, and the Celts were defeated… with their leader dead, the Celts were forced into accepting Roman Rule.

(Image) Celt Farm: Wikipedia

Boudicca: The Warrior Queen



Boudicca was born, around 25-30AD in the then town of Camulodunum, which we know better as Colchester.

Her future had already been mapped out for her.  Aged fourteen, she was educated in the history of the Celts and her tribes, the traditions, culture and religion which they follow.  She was trained as a warrior; how to handle the sword, spear and shield like any pro.

Boudicca married King Prasutagus in 43-45 AD and had two daughters.  In 60 AD life changed for Boudicca, with the death of her husband.  Britain at this time was under Roman occupation.  With Prasutagus dead, the Roman’s had no intention of sharing hid kingdom with Boudicca; they took it all.

The Roman’s tortured Boudicca and raped her two daughters; this would prove to be the catalyst, which would see her demanding revenge against these invaders of their lands.

Quote by Boudicca:  Nothing is safe from Roman pride and arrogance.  They will deface the sacred and will deflower our virgins.  Win the battle or perish, that is what I, will do.

She wanted revenge, for the plundering of the Celts; kingdoms and households alike were plundered like prizes of war.

Many Celtic Kings had been appointed by the Roman’s, to carry on as leaders of their kingdom, if they accepted the Roman occupation.  Yet, it didn’t always appear to have been the best option, for many King’s relatives were treated no better than slaves.

Whilst Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, the Roman Governor led his troops against the island of Monain.  Boudicca the Celts appointed leader with an army of 100,000 men attacked Camulodunum (now known as Colchester) in 60-61 AD killing everyone, and burnt it to the ground.  She moved on to Londinium (now known as London) burnt it to the ground with no survivors.

News had reached Gaius Suetonius Paulinus of the destruction of these two Roman cities… Her third and final annihilation was of Verulamium (now known as St.Albans), no survivors and burnt to the ground.  Boudicca believed her destruction of three key city’s would free Britain of the Roman’s, but she was sadly mistaken.

Boudicca’s speech: Dio Cassius

I was whipped by the Roman’s when they tried to take our lands… and now I am fighting for my freedom.  Think how many of us are fighting and why.  We must win this battle or die.  Let the men live as slaves if they want. I will not.

Boudicca with an army of 230,000 fighting Celtic warriors, came face to face with governor Paulinus army of 10,000 Roman soldiers; odds of 1/23.  What should have been an overwhelming victory, was one of disaster as some 80,000 Celts died at the hands of Roman soldiers.

Boudicca the warrior Queen of the Celts, died along with her two daughters, not on the battlefield… exact cause has never been established.

Boudicca the warrior Queen of the Celts, a name which will always be remembered, for her attempts in driving out the Roman forces who had occupied her England.  All she wanted was freedom from oppression, for herself, and the Celtic tribes of Britain.

Image: Wikipedia