Picts

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The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland.[1] They are recorded from before the Roman conquest of Britain until the 10th century, when they merged with the Gaels. They lived to the north of the Forth and Clyde rivers, and spoke the extinct Pictish language, thought to have been related to the Brythonic languages spoken by the Britons to the south. They are assumed to have been the descendants of the Caledonii and other tribes named by Roman historians or found on the world map of Ptolemy. Pictland, also known as Pictavia, gradually merged with the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata to form the Kingdom of Alba (Scotland). Alba expanded, absorbing the Brythonic kingdom of Strathclyde and Bernician Lothian, and by the 11th century the Pictish identity had been subsumed into the "Scots" amalgamation of peoples.

Pictish society was typical of many Iron Age societies in northern Europe, having "wide connections and parallels" with neighbouring groups.[2]

Archaeology gives some impression of the society of the Picts. Although very little in the way of Pictish writing has survived, Pictish history since the late 6th century is known from a variety of sources, including Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, saints' lives such as that of Columba by Adomnán, and various Irish annals. Although the popular impression of the Picts may be one of an obscure, mysterious people, this is far from being the case. When compared with the generality of Northern, Central and Eastern Europe in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Pictish history and society are well attested.[3]

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