Chronicles of a Modern Pict

June 1, 2000

 

Pictish Naming Possibilities

My Pictish name 'Broichan maqq Kynat' was formed by studying a number of texts on the culture and history of these ancient Picts. I am a bit of a European mongrel, Scottish, Welsh, English and French (my ancestors must have been the result of all of the wars going back to the days of the standing stones). But the Hamilton's have their own Clan, and although they were not Highlanders, I so claim that at some time, in some place, a Kynat, of many, many Kynats stretching back in time, might have been a Pictish King.

The Picts were the original "Native Scots" that were encountered by the original migration of Celts from Europe, and later by the Romans around the thrid Century. They are considered the first British Nation to have emerged from the tribal society of the late Iron Age. Their language was unique, and pre-dated any of the gaelic and Welsh dialects. As a nation they completely vanished and were replaced by the first settlers from Ireland who formed the Scottish Nation approximately 10th century. The Picts were warriors, and resisted the attempts by the Romans in the south of breaking into their northern stronghold. After years of harassment by the Romans along their border, the Picts eventually took to the seas, offensively attacking the Romans, thus contributing to the ultimate withdrawal of the Roman legion, and the establishment of the British and Welsh Nations at the end of the Dark Ages.

It is presumed by Iron-age archaeologists that many of the standing stones and petroglyphs of Scotland were left by the Picts, and their designs were incorporated into the Christianized renderings of "celtic crosses" and similar illumination. The first recorded accounts of the Picts came from the Roman missionaries, St Ninian in the 5th Century, and St Columba in the 6th, who claim to have converted the Picts to Christianity. Another author, Bede (a monk from 673-735 a.d.), wrote about this matrilineal society and the connections between their Kings, and the Kings of Northumbria. He mentioned several interesting observations about the Picts, including that the fact that the Picts may have come from Sythia in long boats, and when they landed in Ireland, having no women with them, asked for wives of the Irish, who consented under the stipulation that whenever they had a dispute over choosing a king that their choice must come from the female royal line rather than the male line. The Picts consented to this arrangement and settled in Pictavia (modern Highlands of eastern Scotland). The history of these people is really fascinating and I've researched several accounts using the references I list below. In attempting to construct a suitably accurate SCA name, I chose the name Broichan who was fist mentioned by an Abbot named Adomnan from Ireland, who recorded the history of the last Pictish King (Brude son of Maelchon) in his book "The Life of St Columba" during the 7th century. Broichan was mentioned as the foster parent of the young King Brude, and was probably a druid as Adomnan's account referred to Broichan as a magus (magician). Broichan is still listed as a Scottish (Pictish) given name in modern naming references. I also contacted Heather Rose (SCA = Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn) a graduate student at UC Berkeley who studies linguistics and history of medieval Scotland. She concurs that Broichan is a solid pictish name, based in history. My chosen surname "Kynat" is also a Pict name (9th century), and was the precursor to the name Kenneth (classic Scottish name). The name "maqq" is also Pictish for "meqq" and later "mac" meaning "son of." So my name "Broichan maqq Kynat" is the Pictish version of "Broichan son of Kenneth," which BTW, my father's name is Kenneth, so my naming decision has a real world connection for me.

References consulted:

The Problem of the Picts, by F. T. Wainwright

The Picts and their Symbols by W.A. Cummins

The Age of the Picts by W. A. Cummins

In Search of the Picts, by Elizabeth Sutherland

The Picts, Duncan Jones

A Consideration of Pictish Names, Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn

 

 

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