Picts

Cruthin, Picti, Priteni

The people who lived in Northern Britain in Roman times and in the traditional Arthurian period.

They were raiding in Britain about the time of the Roman withdrawal and Vortigern is thought to have invited the Saxons to oppose them. According to Geoffrey, they opposed Arthur who might have wiped them out had not their clergy interceded. Boece avers that Guenevere died as their captive.

As to the racial identity of the Picts, they were possibly Celtic and called Priteni in their own language, hence the name of Britain. The Irish called them Cruthin and applied this name also to people of the same race in Ireland. Picti, ‘painted folk’, was the name given them by the Romans.

Although they probably preceded the Britons in Britain, the Venerable Bede says they arrived after them and came from Scythia which lies in present-day Ukraine in the southern Russia. Geoffrey asserts that this migration took place under King Sodric who suffered defeat at the hands of the British king, Marius, who bestowed Caithness on them. Mael Mura of Othain, a medieval Irish poet, maintains they came from Thrace.

Whatever their origins, the kings of the principal Northern Pict kingdom in Arthur’s time were said to have been Galem I (AD 495), Drust III and Drust IV (AD 510-25, after which Drust III ruled alone), Gartnait III (AD 530) and Cailtram (AD 537 to 538); however, this list should be treated with caution. The Southern Picts were divided into four states – Atholl, Circinn, Fife and Fortrenn.


See also
Cadal | The Legend of King Arthur
Drust | The Legend of King Arthur