scottish history
A service from

One, Two, Three, Four, Five

The Highland Clearances

Scottish Origins... up to William Wallace

The Battle of Stirling Bridge

Battle of Falkirk & Execution of Wallace

History of the Kilt

Patrick Geddes

Tragedy at Glencoe


Scottish William Wallace
Chapter Two - Four Peoples -- One Nation?

One, Two, Three, Four, Five
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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 Firth.

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, bloody battlefield.

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.

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