The Scots

Who are the Scots?   The formation of Scotland

The Roman Period - the final frontier

When the Romans under Julius Ceasar first invaded Britain in 55 BC they found an island populated by iron age age Brythonic (British) Celtic Tribes (p-Celt). The Romans were well aware of the British Isles through international trade and they came to exploit the rich farming land and resources of copper, tin, and gold.Contrary to popular belief the Romans did not stop at Hadrian's Wall but built forts as far north as Aberdeenshire.

The people of Northern Scotland (north of the Rivers Forth and Clyde were described as Picti (painted people) from the blue woad dye they used to adorn their bodies. The Pictish centre was Fortrui somewhere in Morayshire.Little is known about these peoples other than Roman accounts. We do not know the language they spoke and with no written language, all we have are their highly decorative carved stones, their exact purpose is still unknown and symbols still undeciphered, across northern Scotland.

Southern Scotland was inhabited by Brythonic tribes speaking a form of gaelic now known as "Old Welsh." Dumbarton Rock (later the Brythonic Kingdom of Strathclyde) was an important centre known to have traded with the Romans .

The first and most northerly Wall   is the "Gask Ridge Frontier" AD70 (a barrier stretching from the Forth River and parallel to the Tay river on the north side through Perthshire and Angus) connecting forts, wooden watchtowers and signal stations was not actually a wall but a defensive line. It separated the Highlands from the rich fertile farmland of the Lowlands -  a line that still runs deep in the Scottish psyche.

The Battle of Mons Grapius AD68, is the most famous battle between the Romans and the Picts. According to the account by Tactus the Picts lost 10000 men, the Romans lost only 350 . The site of the battle is hotly debated thought to be somewhere near the Gask Ridge. From then on the Picts used guerilla tactics which frustrated the Romans.

The most famous, second wall, is "Hadrian's Wall" (From Newcastle (Wallsend) to Carlisle)  It is this administrative wall of trading posts separating "Britannia" from the North (Caledonia)  that would have a lasting effect on Britain and see a distinct psychological divide into what would become notionally England and Scotland. The exhibition at Vindolanda contains well preserved everyday objects recovered from the site.

The third Wall and most strategic militarily, stone and turf "Antonine Wall" was constructed AD142, parts can be seen near Falkirk (a barrier between the Clyde and Forth rivers) was built 12 years after the completion of Hadrian's Wall.  It is this wall that defened the Empire from attacks by the Picts. Artifacts are held at the Huntarian Museum, part of the University of Glasgow.

In around 160 AD the Romans retreated back to Hadrian's Wall until gradually withdrawing from the British Isles between AD 380 - 450.

There followed a period coined the Dark Ages (referring to a lack of written records, but by no means backward):

Traditionally, seen as the time of the Anglo Saxons, however,  we still do not know the numbers that came to Britain. Despite the history books, as with the Celts, almost everything is conjecture or over simplification..
the scots
The Country is called:
United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain(GB) and Northern Ireland.

GB refers to: the Kingdom of England (inc.the Principality of Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland. (Union of the Crowns 1603) Acts of Union 1706 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain

UK refers to GB + Ireland (now the Province of Northern Ireland (Ulster*)(Crown of Ireland Act 1542) (Acts of Union 1800 amended 1922)

The Isle of Man and Channel Islands are British Crown Dependencies and not part of the UK.

The people are British*, Brits*, Britons*:  English, Welsh, Scottish or Scots,  Irish* and Northern Irish*
* use with care in N.Ireland (ask)

In Scotland products are Scottish (adj),
Scotch (n) refers to whisky
Other names used for Scotland:
Caledonia (Roman), Alba (Gaelic), Ecosse (French)

The Scotti: the Latin name for the gaelic language (Q-celt) from Ireland (Hibernia) 5th Century

The Scotti (from whom the name Scotland gets its name) arrived in the late 5th century from the north of Ireland and expanded the kingdom of Dial-riata into the Clyde Estuary and Argyllshire with Dunnad Hill Fort as a stronghold. From here the Gaelic(q-celt) language spread throughout Scotland. Little is known about the coming together of the Picts and the Scots and references to Picts as a separate entity had died out by the 11th century. The name Scotland appears early in the middle ages.

St Columba, an Irish monk,  brought Christianity to Scotland in 563. The island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland became the centre of his evangelising mission to the Picts and became the burial place of the early kings of Scotland.

The Angles 6th Century - Language

We will never know to what extent the Germanic tribes from Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein settled in Northumberland (originally the east coast of England north of the river Humber and extending into the east coast of Scotland as far as the River Forth, covering the Scottish Borders and the Lothians (inc. Edinburgh),  The northern part of Northumberland (north of the River Tweed was gifted to Scotland  circa1018. This boundary would be disputed between Scotland and England frequently, with Berwick upon Tweed changing hands twelves times until finally taken by Henry VIII of England in 1482. The present boundary is 2.5 miles north of the town.

As Scotland and England became more distinct, this Northumbrian Germanic language evolved into Scots in parallel with English., With its own set of dialects and distinctive grammar it reached its height in the early 17th century before converging into English following the Union of the crowns when the Scottish court moved south to London. There are still debates on whether Scots is a language or dialect of English. Most Scots speak Standard Scottish English and it is now recognised as a minor European language. And after years of being told to speak properly, Scots is now being taught in Schools.

The Vikings 8th -15th Century

The influence of the Norse invasions can be seen in the Islands off the north and west of Scotland. Scotland ruled the mainland, Norway controlled the islands ceding Orkney in 975 from the Picts and capturing the islands of Dal-riata. From 11th century onwards the Norse jarls (Earls) vowed allegiance both to Norway for Orkney and to the Scottish crown for their holdings as Earls of Caithness in Sutherland and Caithness.

From the beginning of the 12th century the western island region had lain within the Norwegian realm, ruled by magnates who recognised the overlordship of the Kings of Norway. Scotland had been trying to purchase the the Hebrides since 1240. The Islands formed an important supply chain all the way down into the Irish sea to Viking colonies in Dublin and the Isle of Man. With talks getting nowhere, the Scots threatened to take the islands by force. As a result Norway sent a fleet to invade.

On the 2 October 1263, 'Battle of Largs' between kingdoms of Norway and Scotland near Largs, Ayrshire. Although indecisive, three years after the battle, with the conclusion of the Treaty of Perth, Magnus Hakonarson, King of Norway ceded Scotland's western seaboard to Alexander III, and thus the centuries-old territorial dispute between the consolidating kingdoms was at last settled.

In 1468 Margaret, daughter of Christian I of Denmark, in his capacity as king of Norway, was betrothed to James III of Scotland. Orkney and Shetland, both territories, were pledged as collateral for Margaret's dowry. The dowry was never paid, and the islands became Scottish territory.

What about the Normans?

One of the inconvenient truths about history is that there is no black and white and so it is with even seasoned Historians trying to explain English history and then pinning on the Scottish and Welsh bits that run contrary to the idea of British history as if it were one history; so, can we leave 1066 and all that to the English. Yes, it did have serious consequencies on Scotland. Many English nobles fled to Scotland. The king of Scots, Malcolm III, married the exiled Margaret of Wessex (later St Margaret, sister of the uncrowned deposed king of England.). Their daughter, Matilda of Scotland, married Henry I of England (son of William the Conquer). David I of Scotland (1124–1153), youngest son of Malcom and Margaret, married Matilda (great-niece of William the Conqueror) and was given land and titles in England. He saw the benefit of inviting Norman families to settle in Scotland and bring new farming techniques, law, government structures and architecture. As a result, unlike England, the Scottish Royal dynasty remained intact.

Meanwhile, the Highlands, a law unto themselves, remained exactly as they were, isolated, and the division between Highland and Lowland culture grew...

The Gaelic term for Scotland is Alba (pronounced Alpa) meaning "white" referred to Pictland then Scotland as a whole. Originally, it referred to the whole of Britain (also Albion from the white cliffs of Dover which can be seen from France) but as the Romans gained ground, it came to mean that part of Britain not yet incorporated into the Roman Empire.
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