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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
III. The Coming of Gaeldom

political driver’s seat. A new age of chaos was now upon Europe, and its subsequent history can be characterized as the effort of the various Germanic peoples to recreate the former empire in all its glory. Under the tutelage of the Romano-Celtic Latin clergy, they tirelessly attempted to emulate Roman society, though they never truly understood it. In the process they created something new and lasting, a society forged by the very barbarianism they were trying to deny. For it was the energy and vitality of their Indo-European tribalism that made them different. The fact is that Rome had been a powerful but empty shell. Its stagnation and fall had come about largely because it lacked, for all its culture and civilization, the vitality of the very northern neighbors who were its inheritors.

Meanwhile, in the far North and West, the old Indo-European tribalism continued unimpeded. Its continuous development in Ireland and Scotland contrasted sharply with its decline in the rest of Europe, while its northern expression led directly to the Viking Age. In the British Isles, a series of Celtic tribal invasions had superimposed their members over that insular territory, as we shall see. However, the term "Gaelic" here must be used with caution:

The people whose language and culture would come to define the "Gaelic" area which emerged after A.D. 500, that is, the Gaels in the tribal sense of the word, would not arrive until relatively late.

There were three waves of Celtic invasions of the British Isles before the coming of the famous Gaels. The majority of these pre—Gaelic peoples had managed to remain unconquered by the Romans, whose activity in these isles was generally restricted to the broad English plain. A slightly larger area had subsequently remained out of the grasp of the West Germanic peoples who invaded Roman Britain in the wake of the Imperial collapse, as those people sowed the seed of the English nation. The first of the Celtic invaders, the Cruithne (from a form of the name "British"), came between 800 and 500 B.C. They assimilated the Cro-Magnon people they encountered, adopting their matrilineal descent system in the process. This was a very un—Indo-European system of inheritance, related to the old Cro-Magnon Mother-Goddess cult, whereby property and royal eligibility were passed through the female line, with sons and brothers providing the actual leaders. The merger of these two peoples, the pre—Celts and the Cruithne, formed the basic population of the British Isles, and this fact, with its attendant matrilineal aspect, is clearly reflected in early Celtic literature (Walton 1—16). While scholars may differ as to its exact nature, matrilineality’s traditional existence is born out by historical evidence, despite claims to the contrary (Thompson 226; Smyth 58—68).

In any case, only the traditional matrilineality can explain the nonmilitary possession of the Pictish kingship by sons of foreign kings: It alone can explain the presence of "foreigners" in hereditary positions of power and influence within the Pictish kingdom (these foreigners often simulta-

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