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IV. The Kingdom of the Picts: Christianity, Paganism and the Making of Gaelic Scotland


nationalistic overtones (the whole concept of Dal Riada and Pictland "rival nation-states" is an anachronism). There was no mass tribal migration or displacement; rather, Kenneth McAlpin represents the ultimate legacy of the Viking terror. Under pressure from the Norwegians, the Picts were forced to give equal dignity to their patrilineal subkingdom as the two peoples were literally pushed together during the Viking takeover of large tracts of the North and West. The Vikings also broke the sacral luxury of matrilineality by forcing on the Picts patrilineal leveling as a warrior expediency. The result was that the High King of the Picts, Ard Ri Albann, was also now the tribal leader, by patrilineal inheritance, of the Cineal nGabrain. As the Picts became patrilineal, the symbol stones cease in their sacral matrilineal aspect, and we move naturally into Class III. The arrival of Class III symbol stones paves the way to modern Scotland, a new entity incorporating all four original Heroic kingdoms: Beornicia, Strathclyde, Dal Riada and Pictland.

The kingdom emerging from the union of Picts and Scots was Gaelic speaking and patrilineal. In the blending of the kingdoms of Dal Riada and Pictland, this continuity of language and patrilineal traditions with the culture of Dal Riada tended historically to mask over the generally Pictish context of the whole affair; before the formal annexation of the rest of what is now Scotland in 1124 (i.e., Strathclyde and the Lowlands) the name of the united kingdom remained Alba, the name of the Pictish territory, not Dal Riada, the tribal name of the Scots. The high-kingship was continued from its original Pictish center at Scone (Perthshire), and in its territorial and local administration. In all ways save language and descent system, it remained essentially a Pictish high-kingship. The Pictish royal line—now patrilineal— continued unbroken. The Pictish office of "mormaer" (local sub-king) continued, and these remained in charge of the same provinces, while "thanes" (earlier "toisech") like the barons of later times, continued as the officials—heads of local kindreds—who had charge of territorial/administrative units under the mormaers in the agrarian and pastoral countryside. Kenneth MacAlpin, the first ruler of the united kingdom of Picts and Scots, was styled "rex Pictorum" by the annalists, as are the next three kings in the royal succession. After about 900 A.D. when the style changed, it became king of Alba, (not Scotland or Dal Riada). Moreover, the people of Scotland north of the Forth were after this time known by the collective term "Fir Albann," or "Men of Alba."

The name of Scotland, which comes into use after 1124, was a reference to the reality of Gaelic speech anachronistically applied to the past. Yet at the same time, its use was an acknowledgment of the origin of the kingdom in a Celtic "melting pot" given in the context of rapidly growing Anglo-Norman influence during the twelfth century. The descendants of the Picts by this time spoke Gaelic. This meant that they were now indistinguishable from the descendants of their erstwhile rivals, the Gaelic-speaking Scots of Dal Riada in Argyle, just as they were from the Gaels of the Hebrides, descendants


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