The Picts
The first appearance of the Picts in recorded history was in the year 297, in the reign of Emperor Diocletian, when the writer Eumenius mentioned a raid beyond Hadrian's Wall by Picts and Scots.  Whether the two had previously acted in concert against the Romans in unknown.  However, it is unlikely that 297 was indeed the earliest occasion on which the Picts had struck at the Romans, in whose demonology their place was henceforth assured.  Of the four peoples of Scotland we know the least of the Picts, despite their undoubted contribution to its history.  This is in part the consequence of a natural reliance on Roman sources for information, since they do not always clearly distinguish between individual units within a larger group.  It was their practice to apply the name of the largest tribe to others with a separate identity.   This was the case, for example, with the Caledonii; the primacy accorded to them by the Romans, it may be argued, is undeserved when they are compared to the Picts.  It is thus unclear whether the 'Painted Men' of Eumenius, much given to personal adornment with jewelry and tattooing, were by then a distinct entity or one of a loose collection or confederacy of tribes of the type which had faced Agricola at Mons Graupius.  Even the readiness with which we call them 'Painted Men' may come from a misconception.  The word 'Picti' may be rather an equivalent of the Celtic word 'Priteni', used to describe the inhabitants of Britain in the fourth century BC and later, under the influence of Latin, changing to 'Britanni'.  Nor can we pronounce with confidence on when the Picts came to Scotland, although it is possible that their arrival may have preceded that of the earliest Celtic immigrants.


From "A Travelers History of Scotland" by Andrew Fisher, published by Interlink Books, NY
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