(2006, Armageddon Music)
Click here for album details
At the beginning of time, there was a Pict king named Cruithne, son of Cing, and Cruithne reigned for 100 years. He had seven sons called Fib, Fidach, Foclaid, Fortrenn, Caitt, Ce and Circenn. These names of Cruithne's seven sons were also given to the seven provinces of Pictland. The origins of the Picts are clouded with many fables, legends and fabrications, and there are as many theories as to who the Picts were. The Romans called the pre-Celtic people of Scotland Pictii (Painted) or Caledonii, because Claudius' words prove that (as described by many historians) the ancient Picts actually tattooed their bodies with designs. To the non-Roman Celtic world they were known as "Cruithni" and for many centuries they represented the unbridled fury of a people who refused to be brought under the rule of Rome, or any foreign invader.
Julius Caesar invaded England in BC 55, but it took about one hundred and thirty-five years before the Romans were ready to assault Scotland in 80 AD - the same summer that the Coliseum was opened and one year after the disaster at Pompeii. The Romans called Scotland 'Caledonia' because the dominant tribe of Picts they encountered was the Caledonii. The name is a Romanisation of the actual tribal name and it is difficult to know its meaning to the Romans.
Roman accounts of the Pictish Wars as well as later accounts tell us that the Pictish lands were mainly north of the Forth-Clyde line, to the north of the Antonine Wall.
When the battle started, Caledonians were initially very successful, but because of an outflanking manoeuvre by Roman cavalry, the Caledonians were eventually defeated. Historians believe that the Caledonian leader Calgacus survived this battle. They realised that the Roman army had a great advantage in a pitched battle in open country and the only way the tribes had any hope of beating the Romans was to conduct a united prolonged war. The Caledonians changed their tactics and conducted a guerrilla war and decided to remain as mobile as possible. They attacked their fortresses, military camps, and their Walls. It was a bold strategy: confront the lion in his lair!
Within thirty years of their establishment, the Picts had destroyed and burned the Roman forts, and according to Victorian legend, Rome's most famous legion, the Ninth, was sent north from Inchtuthil to relieve Pictish pressure. Legend has it that legion was massacred and forever lost in an unknown battle against the painted men of the north...
The Romans often came to Scotland, and defeated the Picts in battle, but they never conquered them or the land on which they lived. By the third century A.D. the Roman general Agricola slaughtered a Pictish army led by the quoted Calgacus, the Swordsman (as many of 10,000 Picts may have been killed and 340 Romans). The Picts who fought Agricola at Mons Grampius were described as tall and fair headed. Agricola's legions halted near Aberargie in Perthshire, where they built a fort. They also met a new tribe of barbarians, who the Romans described as swarthy and looking like the Iberians they had conquered in southern Spain. It was to retain control of the advances made by Agricola that several forts were built between Callander near Stirling up to Perth.
It was Hadrian who decided that northern Scotland was not worth more legions, and so he pulled back the Empire to the Tyne and the Solway. There he built the famous wall which bears his name, seventy miles from sea to sea. Perhaps because of constant warfare and attacks against the wall, Antoninus Pius advanced the frontier again to the thin Scottish neck between the Forth and Clyde. Thirty nine miles long and boasting twenty forts, it may have separated Pictish tribes on either sides of the wall. The wall was manned by the Second, Sixth and Twentieth Legions during its forty years. The Picts never ceased attacking it, and in fact the Romans lost it and regained it twice before finally giving it up by the end of the second century and retreating to Hadrian's Wall. We lean from the words of Cassius Dio that the northern tribes "crossed the wall, did a great deal of damage and killed a general and his troops."
In 208 A.D., the governor of Britain was forced to appeal to the Emperor for help against the barbarians, and Septimus Severus decided to come to Britain together with his sons. The old soldier took a Roman fleet loaded with 40,000 centurions into the Firth of Forth, landed a vengeful Roman army ashore, and although he defeated every Pictish army he met and beheaded every Pictish chief who failed to surrender, he failed to conquer the land which he called Caledonia and he too was soon dead. The decimation caused in the Pictish countryside was of such consequence that for nearly a century, peace was kept in the land; the Romans manned Hadrian's Wall and the northern tattoed tribes stayed in their grim, brooding hills north of it.