🗓 Scottish Government Consultation on commitments to Scottish Gaelic & Scots languages closes 17th November 2022 – be sure to have your say! 🗓

💭 In Scotland, as with English speaking countries in general, language learning is unfortunately severely undervalued which leads to many never properly learning &/or using any languages other than English. I think it also leads to people being less aware of the inextricable connection between language, culture & worldview; an example of which is nicely put in the image below ⬇️

Made & shared by BBC Speak Gaelic, a language learning programme, website & podcast for Scottish Gaelic learners 👩🏻‍🏫

⚠️ When a language dies we sadly lose not only words but also ideas & culture along with it. Anyone into Scottish history should be aware of a very famous historical example of this in the Picts, whose language has been lost after being superseded by Gaelic & Norse, frustratingly leaving us with very little idea about Pictish beliefs, worldview etc 😞

⭐️ So, let’s not let this happen with Scottish Gaelic or Scots! Let’s stop putting these languages down as “dead”, “just not speaking English properly” etc when they aren’t. Let’s stop seeing learning & using languages native to Scotland as a barrier when it isn’t – it’s an asset that not only helps people see the world & communicate in a different way, but also helps them get the skills to learn other languages should they wish to do so. It’s not like the human brain can only handle 1 or 2 languages max lol 🧠

💬 You can make your views known by filling out the online consultation ⬅️

📄 The consultation paper is available in:

📚 Further reading/watching:

📸 Featured Photo credit: Pexel

Tobar Nam Maor – a Pictish symbol stone with a Scottish Gaelic name

💧Tobar Nam Maor is a standing stone with Pictish symbols that got its name when it was found being used as a cover stone for a well of that name in 1910. Here’s a brilliant 3D model you can have a look at & interact with on Sketchfab:

📝 The name translates to “The Well of the Stewards”, or sometimes “Shepherds”. It’s been pointed out by those better at Scottish Gaelic than me – I’m still learning – that sources labelling it Tobar NA Maor rather than Tobar NAM Maor are incorrect, likely dropping the “m” from the end of “Nam” by mistake due to the next word beginning with “m”. This shows us how important it is to double-check things in the original language of the items we’re researching, particularly if they’re minority languages like Scottish Gaelic because this makes any issues both more likely to occur & more likely to be overlooked, even by otherwise reliable sources unfortunately…

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 More details on the Scottish Gaelic name issues – “nan” (or “nam” in the case of words beginning with b, f, m or p) is the genitive article for plural nouns & so can be used with both masculine & feminine nouns to indicate possession or close association. However “na” as a genitive article is not only singular, but cannot be used with masculine nouns like “maor”, so this grammatical impossibility is what tells us that the “m” in “nam” has been dropped. Hopefully that made sense & I obviously welcome any comments native &/or fluent Gaelic speakers may have. See these helpful tables from Learn Gaelic for further clarification.

⭐️ Canmore Info for this stone can be found here

⭐️ Highland Historic Environment Record info can be found here

⭐️ Further HER entry showing a source with an example of correct spelling & translation can be found here

📸 Featured Photo credit: Pexel

Pictish Trail & Myth-Busting

Just a wee post to highlight a couple of interesting resources & places to visit in connection with the Picts 🙂

🪧 The Highland Pictish Trail Website – full of great info & places to visit. Extract from site intro:

“From the 300 AD to about 900AD, the Picts ruled much of what is now Scotland, and the Highlands were an important centre of Pictish power, culture and religion.
Today, you can experience for yourself their fascinating legacy in the Highlands – enigmatic and often finely carved stones, important religious sites, hillforts set on towering hills and ridges, finely-worked jewellery and sculpture cared for in local museums, and stories of kings, wizards, faith and battles.”

💥 Great Myth-Busting article from Dig It! – available in Scots (& English, but give the Scots a go)! Extract from intro:

“The Pechts are best kent fur their byordinar symbol stanes, whit are tae be fund oot-through Scotland. Hooivver, recent research has brocht tae licht michtie new elite settlements and airtit oot Pechtish monasteries – forby, it has e’en gied us dates fur these ferlie stanes. Takkin tent o aw this new data, lat’s hae a glisk at some o the maist common questions speirt anent thon unco interestin fowk.”

⭐️ For those that can’t visit any Pictish sites at the moment, here’s a fab wee collection of interactive 3D models of some of them on Sketchfab. Example of one 1 I really like (as you can tell from the Featured photo lol):

📚 For more have a look the Picts topic tag & the Picts section of the Resource pages

📸 Featured Photo credit: Me, Fortingall

Early History of Christianity in Scotland

Saints & Sea Kings by Ewan Campbell is part of the Historic Scotland “The Making of Scotland” series. Like all books in the series it’s short & good for a simple introduction/overview, with further reading recommendations at the end.

This book mentions early Christianity in Scotland & Columba in particular. It describes the small numbers of monks involved as well as how evidence points to both Christianity & the older Religion existing side-by-side for quite some time, such as the syncretic nature of beliefs in Scotland. It also goes into the power & prestige of writing after it was introduced by Christian monks, which had a massive impact on wider society & culture. Lastly, on a non-religious note, it covers how the idea that Scottish Gaelic culture & language came to Scotland through invasion from Ireland is a myth – these books were written a wee while ago so it was a newer argument at the time, but now it’s well established that Scottish Gaels had always been in certain areas of Scotland, connected with Ireland by the sea.

➕I feel understanding this transitional time period is very important as misconceptions about the Christianity in places like Scotland & Ireland are still quite prevalent today. For example, because of violence & forced conversions elsewhere, it’s often assumed that it must have been the same everywhere, so every St Patrick’s Day you get the modern myths about St Patrick somehow single-handedly murdering thousands of pagans. Another example is that because some people are unaware of just how long Christianity has been in Scotland, they believe false claims that the Witch Trials in Scotland involved executing pagans.

📚Another book in series that covers this transition in Southern Scotland is Angels, Fools & Tyrants by Chris Lowe (I’d recommend the whole series if you can get it – they were part of the reading from my Archaeology course at Uni & cover Scottish history from pre-history to the decline of the clans)

🔗 For more have a look at the Religion & the Witchcraft Beliefs & The Witch Trials sections of the Resources Pages – I’ll be adding more to these sections over time.

(📸 Featured Photo credit: Me – Pictish Cross Slab at Loch Kinord, Canmore Site Record)

The Picts – Religion

Just wanted to share this video for anyone who is interested in the Picts or just Scottish history in general, especially in relation to pre-Christian spiritual beliefs 🙂

Unfortunately we know very little about Pictish pre-Christian beliefs, so when it comes to reconstructing Scottish paganism it’s Scottish Gaelic Polytheism that people must base their practice on.

However research by archaeologists etc is still ongoing, & in this video Dr Kelly Kirlpatrick outlines her argument that at least some of the figures depicted on Pictish stones may be those of Pictish deities. She draws on examples from other European cultures – such as Norse – in order to show why she thinks this as they have at least some of their mythology surviving in written form today while the Picts sadly don’t. Of course this is still very sparse & speculative info, but interesting all the same I think 😊

🖥 Watch the lecture above (duration about 55 mins) or here

(📸 Featured Photo Credit: Me)

The Picts – Intro

(For context, this was originally written for a spirituality group where people were looking to reconnect with their heritage & hopefully reconstruct a pagan belief system/practice based on that in order to avoid appropriating from other cultures. See ✨ at bottom of page for more info)

📝Additional Note: specific terms like “Picts”, “Gaels”, “Norse” & broader umbrella terms like “Celtic”, “Germanic” etc refer to cultural/language groups. They do NOT refer to genetic groups. So, there’s no such thing as “Pictish DNA” or having “Celtic blood” – a Pict is just someone who lived with Pictish culture & language, then those who were alive through transition to Gaelic language & culture later became Gaels, no change of DNA & no being wiped out by a mass invasion. This is important to understand not only for accuracy but also the outdated idea that these things are genetic is often pushed by racists, so let’s not contribute to that.

Now, on to the post…

Wee post on Picts – hopefully useful to those interested in Scottish practices as there’s quite a bit of misinformation out there from the likes of Buckland etc…

First of all I feel it important to point out that the area that comprises modern Scotland has never been occupied by a singular cultural or linguistic group – there has always been some degree of diversity. This diversity still shines through in variations of Scottish folk beliefs in different areas & even more simple things such as place names. We’ve had Gaels, Picts, Britons, Norse & even Anglo-Saxon amongst even more ancient influences at various points in time.

That said, the biggest, or at least most famous, influence on Scottish folk belief that has survived to this day is Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) culture & language due to the formation of the Gaelic kingdom of Alba in 800AD. Before this, large areas of Scotland were ruled by the Picts. Unfortunately, their language & most of their culture, beliefs etc have been lost to us, though there is evidence that they were a Celtic culture & they are thought to have spoken a Brythonic language related to Old Welsh, so P-Celtic rather than Q-Celtic. This is important to know as sometimes people think Picts & Gaels were the same when this isn’t the case – Gaelic culture simply became the dominant culture in Scotland due to changes in the Elite, religion etc which caused Pictish culture & language to fade away over time.

So, if you’re learning about Saining – for example – you’re learning about a Gaelic practice, not a traditionally Pictish practice (it may be that they had something similar, but the fact is we sadly don’t know).

Here’s a good wee series of books for a general overview of Scottish history up to the clan period (tried to link to a site that wasn’t a sales site): The Making of Scotland

I could go on about this for ages lol but have tried to keep it as short & simple as possible – please feel free to ask any questions 😊 I’ll end this post by linking to a few projects etc based in Scotland that are good for learning more about Picts:

I’ll be adding other, more in-depth posts on the Picts on areas such as religion, language etc under the “Picts” topic tag 🏷

✨ “Seems Like Your Spirituality is Just Cultural Appropriation” or SLYSCA started off as an anti-racist, ethical spirituality group on Facebook run by Visibly Racialised People. Sadly the group is “under review” by FB, but SLYSCA lives on through a page, a patreon & a YouTube channel so please go have a look 👀 ⚠️ EDIT: as of 2022 the page & patreon have also been taken down, & the YouTube has only a few activism videos left up – this is due to the volunteers running them being unable to continue doing so…there are a lot of entitled people out there who would rather attack groups like this instead of trying to learn, so running them can be very draining 😞 If you can use Tumblr you can try to have a look through what was archived, such as screenshots from the groups etc, on their account which at the time of writing is still up ⬅️

(📸 Featured Photo credit: Me)