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


later sense of the title was that of "Sheriff," and it was in this sense that Sir William Murray of Tullibardine, as a descendant also of the original sheriffs of Perth, became Stewart of Strathearn in 1473, with a lifetime appointment following in 1483. The Tullibardine family continued to rise in power, being made "Earls of Tullibardine" in 1583, and eventually (in 1629) inheriting the Earldom of Atholl, which they hold today. The unusual local power which accrued to the AtholI-Tullibardine family (now dukes of Atholl) is based on a resurgence of traditions of Strathearn/Perthshire regional autonomy together with politico-strategic realities arising in part from the removal of direct royal control over the area after the union of the crowns in 1603.

Old traditions continued to have an effect on the day-to-day life of the kingdom. Below the level of king, churchman and earl, the pattern of life remained surprisingly unchanged. The use of the name "Scotland" was descriptive of the Gaelic-speaking, Celtic power base which carved out the united kingdom between 1130 (the subjection of Moray) and 1266 (the subjection of the Hebrides). The political history, the record of rulers and battles in a kingdom is not the true record of the life of a people. Looking below the level of names and dates, the reigns of kings and the tenure of bishops, we find a Scotland almost humming with elemental Picto-Gaelic energy. It hums like the wind in a grey ruin, sound invading seclusion as sunlight invades shadow and warm life shocks cold stone amid the leafy humus of the past. Even today in the Gaelic-speaking Highlands, one can find venerated cult objects used in a Christian context, such as the "fairy fire stones" used in healing the sick, or blackened in the fire for a more sinister purpose (Thomson 221). The "clay body" used in "working woe" reminds one of sympathetic voodoo magic. Holy wells are still resorted to, and offerings made, and the insane are sometimes dipped in the healing water and then left overnight. Rowan trees are still found planted outside houses, presumably from a continuing belief in black witchcraft, practiced at least as late as the eighteenth century. Some sense of the magical power of iron and of the original semi-devine nature of the blacksmith continues in the practice of nailing horseshoes to walls as talismans against bad luck. On the positive side of witchcraft, healers or "charmers" are still called upon in curing the sick, as are traditional herbal remedies administered in a shamanistic way by country witchdoctors or by hags stooping over cauldrons.

The mind at work here is a Celtic one, a mind still connected to the Gaelic language and to a conservative rural environment. These factors have encouraged the continuation of a Celtic culture which remains linguistically and geographically unremoved from its original context. Christianity, long a part of Gaelic tradition, has maintained in this environment a high level of syncretism with earlier traditions. Politically expedient edicts on religious matters, executed on paper at Edinburgh or Perth, did not necessarily translate into the cultural mind of the people, and the original fusion of Christian and pagan, with its symbolic rationalization in Class II symbol stones, has remained


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