August 7th, 2004


Rumours rumours ... the Picts !

Responding to acelightning writing in my friend elsibeth's journal about the picts I point to:-

Julius Ceaser quivers...

Julius Caesar commented that 'All the [ northern ] Britanni paint themselves with woad which produces a bluish colouring and this gives them a terrifying appearance in battle', the Romans even called one tribe the Smertae ( the 'smeared ones' ). Later, writers said that the Picts fought naked, but this rumour didn't start until 100 years after the events, so it can be completely discounted as fictitious propaganda. Later Roman propaganda would say that the Picts lived naked all the time, and were blue in battle because they tattooed themselves. These things were written by people from Spain or France, who had probably never been in Britain, or experienced a Caledonian winter. Neither Julius Caesar, Tacitus nor any other contemporary historian mention nakedness in battle, or tattoos. More importantly all of the stone monuments left by the Picts show their warriors not only fully clothed in battle, but also fully armoured. Caledonians may have taken their tunic off before summer battles, and smeared on a bit of extra body paint, and that was probably the beginning of what became a very exaggerated story. The Roman eyewitnesses never speak of tattoos or nakedness, but speak rather of the tribes painting, or smearing paint on themselves before battle. You know something; we still do that today, though now it's before football matches - with blue still being the dominant colour.


It's bloody cold in Scotland.
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