from the processional frieze of famous Scots, Scottish National
Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, William Hole 1898
THE Scottish Nation successfully absorbed several races as it evolved
between the sixth and fourteenth centuries. The early Scots were a
Celtic people from Ireland who invaded and settled the North West Coast
of mainland Britain. Already in place were the indigenous Picts,
referred to by the Roman orator Eumenius as early as AD296, and so
called because they painted their bodies (Picti in Latin means 'painted
However, only from the ninth century is it considered correct to use
the word “Scot” when referring to the inhabitants of northern Britain.
Before this, the Irish word “Scotti” referred only to descendants of
the Celtic Dál Riata from north -east Ireland, who began to occupy the
coastline of Argyllshire and western Scotland from the ninth century.
Up until then, the territory from Caithness to Fife was inhabited by
Pictish tribes, with Southern Scotland occupied by Angles and Britons.
Central Scotland, however, was occupied by the Romans from around 84AD,
after Gnaeus Julius Agricola had won the Battle of Mons Graupius
against the Caledonian leader Calgacus. The ongoing fierceness of the
local tribes and the harshness of the climate soon drove the Romans
south behind the 37-mile long Antonine Wall which connected the Firths
of Forth and Clyde. By 122AD, they had retreated even further to the
south behind the better constructed Hadrian's Wall which runs from
Wallsend on the River Tyne to the Solway Firth, a strategic
fortification which they finally abandoned in the early fifth century.
(Fergus, son of Fergus) - WHILE little is known
about him, Fergus Mor McErc is widely accepted in medieval texts as the
founder of the Scottish nation which emerged around c.500AD.
The tradition says that he and his followers arrived from Ireland, and
that they brought with them the mystical Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny
upon which he and his successors were subsequently crowned. He was
succeeded after his death by his son Dúngal. Thereafter, sources are
obscure and contradictory until the arrival of Alpin, although it is
believed that Fergus's grandsons were Gabrán mac Domangairt and
Comgall, and that a great-grandson was named Aédan mac Gabrán. It is
also known that various Pictish Kings died in battle against either
Viking invaders or in family feuds – notably Uven Mac Angus, Eogån, and
latterly Ōengus II, brother of Caustantin.