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Thread: What did the picts look like?

  1. #1

    Default What did the picts look like?

    I was just wondering what the picts looked like in the various historical accounts.

    I've looked at a lot of Pictish stones and have a general idea of what they wore in terms of clothes and how they wore their hair, but I'm not really sure as to what their hair color was like and things like that.

  2. #2
    Member Member RandyKapp's Avatar
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    Default AW: What did the picts look like?

    Ginger, i would imagine.

  3. #3

    Default Re: AW: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyKapp
    Ginger, i would imagine.
    That's what I heard too.

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    Son of Gob. Member Jebus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Dunk, ugly and constantly bickering over stuff too, I would imagine - at least, that's what their descendance would lead us to believe...
    Je ne vois qu'infini par toutes les fentres.

    Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

  5. #5

    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jebus
    Dunk, ugly and constantly bickering over stuff too, I would imagine - at least, that's what their descendance would lead us to believe...
    How did the Picts wind up in Greece?

  6. #6
    Dungalloigh Brehonda Member Ranika's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Picts appearance varied by region and time period. Originally, many were said to have black hair, with long slender faces, and were sometimes considered somewhat short. Those living in the south (in the kingdom of Fibb) were sometimes described with blonde hair though (as they would have been married in with Britons and then Saxons), and in the north, as Gaels influxed from Ireland, a lot of them took on traits like brown hair, and they were no longer called short, but sometimes described as being very tall. They probably originally dressed like most Celts, but after the Gaelic invasions a lot began to dress the same as Gaels (bare-legged, wearing knee-length shirts, a lot of cloaks and robes, etc.).

    Don't know why this is asked here though. Picts didn't exist yet. They confederated into a body after the end of EB's period. Till then, it's just Caledonian tribes (some of which dyed their hair a red color, which we'll be representing).
    Last edited by Ranika; 12-15-2005 at 01:07.
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    Member Member Ergion's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Its a pleasure read your posts, Ranika, inclusive in a language different from mine.

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    EB Member... sort of Member Proper Gander's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    i'm surprised that nobody said; "like my mother in law"

  9. #9

    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    Picts appearance varied by region and time period. Originally, many were said to have black hair, with long slender faces, and were sometimes considered somewhat short. Those living in the south (in the kingdom of Fibb) were sometimes described with blonde hair though (as they would have been married in with Britons and then Saxons), and in the north, as Gaels influxed from Ireland, a lot of them took on traits like brown hair, and they were no longer called short, but sometimes described as being very tall. They probably originally dressed like most Celts, but after the Gaelic invasions a lot began to dress the same as Gaels (bare-legged, wearing knee-length shirts, a lot of cloaks and robes, etc.).

    Don't know why this is asked here though. Picts didn't exist yet. They confederated into a body after the end of EB's period. Till then, it's just Caledonian tribes (some of which dyed their hair a red color, which we'll be representing).
    It wasn't a game related question, I was just curious and this seemed like the place to get The answer I was looking for, and well... I DID get the answer I was looking for, so thanks again Rankia

  10. #10
    Member Member Taffy_is_a_Taff's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    the north east of Scotland contains a lot of people who are fairly short, very pale skinned and very dark haired.

    disproportionate amount of gingers too.

    I figure the Picts would look pretty similar.

  11. #11
    probably bored Member BDC's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Drunk as well probably.

  12. #12
    Dungalloigh Brehonda Member Ranika's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    According to St. Ninnian, the Picts mostly did not like alcohol, though they did make beer and wine was used in Christian religious services, as well as usually a staple of wealthier aristocracy (who likely wished to seem more civilized and thus idled over wine; rarer than easily attained beers). However, they seem to have often preferred a number of other drugs for recreation. St. Columba said many would inhale smoke from a mashed up gray root to cause their bodies to go limp and give them a sense of euphoria.

    And onto a near completely unrelated note. It's something rarely noted today about the ancient world. Plenty of drug use. A whole lot of it. Ancient Celts used to sell slaves (which were cheap in Celtic society for their sheer number, but worth a lot elsewhere) in exchange for things likely akin to opium (which has a pretty lengthy history as an addictive substance), and countless substances were in use all over the ancient world aside from that, including drugs like what the Gaesatae imbibed, which possibly came from Egypt (I think it was...) originally. The effects of the drug are described in the exact same way; the body first goes totally limp, then the person becomes very vibrant and excitable, and completely ignores any pain or remote concern for one's own life; Gaesatae were recorded as sometimes ripping out javelins and throwing them back; I often compare it to being the ancient equivalent of PCP, to get an idea of just what it does. Modern PCP addict; shotgun blast to the torso and he's still moving. Ancient world PCP addict; disregards the fact that his lungs should be filled with blood, and his innards mashed, and that he should be certainly dead. Like PCP, the drug likely kept the neurons in the brain active despite lack of certain things the brain normally needs to run; in effect, it allows a person to be alive, while they're dead. It also allows one to exert substantially more force into the muscles (since you don't feel the strain), allowing one to perform feats of strength that would normally be well beyond one's means.

    In Celtic terms, this is probably what gave rise to the myth of 'rigi' (or any myriad of other terms). They're like zombies except they're very limber, incredibly fast, and very strong. However, they're depicted as dead warriors who never speak but in nonsensical jabbering, or they're totally mute (though they can understand when being spoken to). This isn't that unlike that, and over a few generations, one could make the leap from 'drugged up warrior' to 'near invincible super strong walking dead', since there was, at least in story telling purposes, little difference between the two. ....In EB you WILL get to push Gaesatae around as the Gauls, and they are a very tough unit. Also expensive. However, they're probably one of the best shock infantry in the game for the money, with javelins, a powerful charge, and great staying power since they don't die that fast and have the highest morale of any single unit (I think... One or two may be higher). Though, they also fight naked (so no armor but their shields), and cavalry can run them down.
    Last edited by Ranika; 12-16-2005 at 20:10.
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    Member Member RandyKapp's Avatar
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    Default AW: Re: What did the picts look like?

    I love you Ranika.

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    probably bored Member BDC's Avatar
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    Default Re: AW: Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyKapp
    I love you Ranika.
    Hell yes. Clearly it's racists to prevent the Pict descendents from using the drugs their oppressed ancestors used... To Scotland!

  15. #15

    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika

    Ancient world PCP addict; disregards the fact that his lungs should be filled with blood, and his innards mashed, and that he should be certainly dead. Like PCP, the drug likely kept the neurons in the brain active despite lack of certain things the brain normally needs to run; in effect, it allows a person to be alive, while they're dead. It also allows one to exert substantially more force into the muscles (since you don't feel the strain), allowing one to perform feats of strength that would normally be well beyond one's means.
    That is the coolest thing I have read today.

  16. #16

    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    In Celtic terms, this is probably what gave rise to the myth of 'rigi' (or any myriad of other terms). They're like zombies except they're very limber, incredibly fast, and very strong. However, they're depicted as dead warriors who never speak but in nonsensical jabbering, or they're totally mute (though they can understand when being spoken to). This isn't that unlike that, and over a few generations, one could make the leap from 'drugged up warrior' to 'near invincible super strong walking dead', since there was, at least in story telling purposes, little difference between the two.
    That would be good material for a movie.

    A Celtic fort holding off wave after wave of super strong, super fast, nonsensical jabbering undead warriors.

    I'd seriously like to see a movie like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    ....In EB you WILL get to push Gaesatae around as the Gauls, and they are a very tough unit. Also expensive. However, they're probably one of the best shock infantry in the game for the money, with javelins, a powerful charge, and great staying power since they don't die that fast and have the highest morale of any single unit (I think... One or two may be higher). Though, they also fight naked (so no armor but their shields), and cavalry can run them down.
    Why did they fight naked exactly? and did the Romans ever put anything like that into practice? or would these drugged up warriors have been too hard to control?

  17. #17
    Dungalloigh Brehonda Member Ranika's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    There are plenty of Irish stories involving the dead like that. The 'cauldron-born' and similar myths postulate that they were made with a magic cauldron (perhaps referencing the way the different substances to make the drug were mixed together) and that the dead warrior would be immersed in it, then crawl out.

    And Gaesatae, and others, fought naked because it allowed a free range of mobility, most likely. Additionally, it's also very frightening for the enemy. I mean, we can make fun, but just try to imagine a large number of armed, naked berserkers, who all want to kill you and cut off your head as a trophy. The Romans never used that kind of thing, but Gauls, and Carthage did; at least once Carthage did (Hannibal had some private bodyguards composed of the Gaesatae). Gaesatae will not be widely available though in EB; they didn't fight for just anyone despite their status as mercenaries. In both real life and in game terms, they're meant purely as shock infantry that can also horrify an enemy. The idea is to use them to augment an attack by hurling them at weak points and opening a gap to be exploited by better disciplined soldiers once the Gaesatae have tired out (which won't be too quickly, but I still wish we could apply a number value to hardiness, since they should not tire very easily; again, the drugs). That said, they're pretty fast and versatile. You can also use them to flank (in some tests, using two units of Gaesatae to flank a few units of Roman infantry already engaged with lighter/weaker troops, it caused quite a number of near victorious Roman units to break quickly). They're for the most part an augmentive reserve or something to soften up the enemy for an attack.
    N dheachaigh fial ariamh go hIfreann.


  18. #18

    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    There are plenty of Irish stories involving the dead like that. The 'cauldron-born' and similar myths postulate that they were made with a magic cauldron (perhaps referencing the way the different substances to make the drug were mixed together) and that the dead warrior would be immersed in it, then crawl out.
    Kind of like in the mabinogion? that cauldron that brought people back to life?


    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    And Gaesatae, and others, fought naked because it allowed a free range of mobility, most likely. Additionally, it's also very frightening for the enemy. I mean, we can make fun, but just try to imagine a large number of armed, naked berserkers, who all want to kill you and cut off your head as a trophy. The Romans never used that kind of thing, but Gauls, and Carthage did; at least once Carthage did (Hannibal had some private bodyguards composed of the Gaesatae).
    I read somewhere that some Greeks saw nakedness in battle as a sign of courage and skill, is that true? and if so did they ever fight naked?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    Gaesatae will not be widely available though in EB; they didn't fight for just anyone despite their status as mercenaries. In both real life and in game terms, they're meant purely as shock infantry that can also horrify an enemy. The idea is to use them to augment an attack by hurling them at weak points and opening a gap to be exploited by better disciplined soldiers once the Gaesatae have tired out (which won't be too quickly, but I still wish we could apply a number value to hardiness, since they should not tire very easily; again, the drugs). That said, they're pretty fast and versatile. You can also use them to flank (in some tests, using two units of Gaesatae to flank a few units of Roman infantry already engaged with lighter/weaker troops, it caused quite a number of near victorious Roman units to break quickly). They're for the most part an augmentive reserve or something to soften up the enemy for an attack.
    Aside from being augmented by drugs, how physically fit were these guys? were they basically expert fighters? and superb athletes?

    Also what did they do when they weren't fighting?

  19. #19
    Probably Drunk Member Reverend Joe's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_handsome_viking
    That would be good material for a movie.

    A Celtic fort holding off wave after wave of super strong, super fast, nonsensical jabbering undead warriors.

    I'd seriously like to see a movie like that.
    Man, that would be a good movie! "Night of the Cauldron-Born"...

  20. #20
    Dungalloigh Brehonda Member Ranika's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_handsome_viking
    Kind of like in the mabinogion? that cauldron that brought people back to life?
    Yes, precisely. Variants of stories about it exist depending on region. As is the habit though, most people only know the 'big stories'. I know quite a few variants and more or less unrelated stories. Irish myth is rife with the dead deciding to get up and walked about. Some really creepy stuff like rigimuir, my uncle used to tell me stories about them when I was a boy to terrify me. They're the dead come ashore at night; those who drowned at sea in a state of cowardice or hatred. They drag off anyone they find into the sea and eat their eyes. Beat that Romero. Eyeball eating long dead boatmen from the deep.

    Quote Originally Posted by the_handsome_viking
    I read somewhere that some Greeks saw nakedness in battle as a sign of courage and skill, is that true? and if so did they ever fight naked?
    I honestly don't know. I suppose at some point they may have, but one of our Hellenic experts is substantially better qualified to answer this than me.

    Quote Originally Posted by the_handsome_viking
    Aside from being augmented by drugs, how physically fit were these guys? were they basically expert fighters? and superb athletes?

    Also what did they do when they weren't fighting?
    They would be quite physically fit. They were known for a cult-like devotion to their physical well-being when not fighting. They were all very experienced soldiers before they joined the Gaesatae, so they were most likely experts in some degree, and such experience brings with it a lot of physical conditioning. When not fighting, they were probably like a lot of other Celts. They would play games that increase physical aptitude, have a lot of parties, relax with various substances and more debauched activities, attend religious ceremonies, or perform a service in their down time like blacksmithing.
    N dheachaigh fial ariamh go hIfreann.


  21. #21

    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    Yes, precisely. Variants of stories about it exist depending on region. As is the habit though, most people only know the 'big stories'. I know quite a few variants and more or less unrelated stories. Irish myth is rife with the dead deciding to get up and walked about. Some really creepy stuff like rigimuir, my uncle used to tell me stories about them when I was a boy to terrify me. They're the dead come ashore at night; those who drowned at sea in a state of cowardice or hatred. They drag off anyone they find into the sea and eat their eyes. Beat that Romero. Eyeball eating long dead boatmen from the deep.
    You must have loved it when your uncle babysat you.

  22. #22
    Dungalloigh Brehonda Member Ranika's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    He's always been big on local and family folklore. Apparently we have an inordinately high number of stories about ghosts and the like in my family. Was great as a kid, usually, I enjoyed being scared. Usually anyway.
    Last edited by Ranika; 12-17-2005 at 17:57.
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    VOXIFEX MAXIMVS Member Shigawire's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_handsome_viking
    I was just wondering what the picts looked like in the various historical accounts.

    I've looked at a lot of Pictish stones and have a general idea of what they wore in terms of clothes and how they wore their hair, but I'm not really sure as to what their hair color was like and things like that.

    They were, in fact, hairy bastards.

    They also liked to draw pictures.
    Last edited by Shigawire; 12-17-2005 at 17:57.


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    Urwendur rbl Senior Member Mouzafphaerre's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    .
    So, what's known about who they were? I've seen accounts on them being Celts but also ones stating that they were non-Celts [more] indigenous to Britain. Bede, I think, says that they had a different language.
    .
    .
    RIP Tosa Inu-sama

    Mouzafphaerre is known elsewhere as Urwendil/Urwendur
    .

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    His higness, the Sultan Member Randarkmaan's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    I read in a book once that many early celtic warriors fought naked because they believed that not even the best armour in the world would be able to protect them, Because the time you are supposed to die is predetermined and wearing armour was basically the same as cheating your own destiny.

  26. #26
    Dungalloigh Brehonda Member Ranika's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mouzafphaerre
    .
    So, what's known about who they were? I've seen accounts on them being Celts but also ones stating that they were non-Celts [more] indigenous to Britain. Bede, I think, says that they had a different language.
    .
    Both the Venerable Bede and St. Columba reported their language as having been wholely different than either British or Gaelic languages. Columba even used it as an excuse not to try and convert them, and instead sent his protege to try. Columba only went himself after his protege was martyred by pagan Picts, and, despite having been trying for years to study the Pictish language, called it 'impenetrably difficult'. Columba, it should be noted, spoke many British dialects and could converse in all of Ireland, including in the regional language of what is now presumed to be Ivernic. He was no linguistic slouch, and if he says Pictish was a difficult language, he was probably deadly serious about it.

    That said, what is a Celt to us? A Celt is a member of the Celtic superculture, itself broken into many sub-cultures. We can discern that later Picts were 'Celtic', if by nothing else than their culture being so similar to Celts, with similar art styles, customs, and livliehoods. At the same time, they possessed some uniquely non-Celtic traits, such as prigomeniture laws (the passing of titles by bloodline; Celts elected tanists, and many Gaels of the period saw the Pictish system as 'tyranny', though it was ultimately used against the Picts to consolidate rule of Pictland under a Gaelic king). Ancient Caledonians may have well not been Celts by any stretch. They had a very unique culture in many places. However, some were incontrovertibly a Celtic people.

    Even in the dark ages, some of the northernmost Picts may not have been Celtic by a strict definition, but the southerners were most certainly, even for a few non-Celtic traits, and much of the highlands were steadily Gaelicized (Picts even took to wearing Gaelic clothing much of the time, and their language may have been replaced by a mixture of British and Gaelic depending on the regions, before the last Pictish king was killed).


    Also;

    Quote Originally Posted by Randarkmaan
    I read in a book once that many early celtic warriors fought naked because they believed that not even the best armour in the world would be able to protect them, Because the time you are supposed to die is predetermined and wearing armour was basically the same as cheating your own destiny.
    This is speculation, and poor speculation at that. It overlooks the proliferation of armor amongst high society, and religious combatants such as Carnutes. It is unlikely Celts believed in fate to such an extent they wouldn't defend their bodies. I suppose it is possible some groups held this superstition, but the fact that they developed armor doesn't mesh with it as being a 'Celtic' trait, so much as probably a 'local' trait. Gaesatae, for example, did not want to die. They fought nude because it made them appear more frightening and allowed them to move freely. Potentially, they also didn't wish to get cloth in wounds they sustained for fear of infection after their drugs wore off. There are a lot of reasons to fight nude in the ancient world, and we don't need to immediately jump to superstition.

    There are practical values in nude or near-nude combat, which are the most likely reasons because they're the most obvious. They also fit with a culture that develops armor, and especially a specifically war-like culture, in which various concepts of how to fight would come about. Make no mistake, Celts were clearly making a science of how to fight. Irish myth is filled with references to different fighting styles and philosophies (including fighting nude for sake of mobility). It is largely an argument based on flexibility; one can be rigidly armored and slower, but well-defended. Or, you can be very agile, and rely on your physical speed to protect you, rather than armor. Most accounts of Celts hurling themselves on enemy spears come long after the fact by authors who had never seen Celts in battle. Even contemporary accounts may be misleading or confused. For example, Celtic shortswords would roll under walls of spears to stab the spearmen (like what destroyed the Macedonian army and caused the Pergamons to start kneeling a pike row down, and possibly what helped defeat the early Hellenic-style Romans). That'd be pretty hectic, and a few may not manage to get under those pikeheads in time. Now, if you saw a man essentially run into a spear (without realizing he was trying to get under it) you may think he's so disregarding of his own life that he's just trying to render your weapon useless by sticking his body on it.
    Last edited by Ranika; 12-17-2005 at 19:54.
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  27. #27
    Member Member Taffy_is_a_Taff's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Mouz:
    Bede listed the languages of Britains and included British (i.e. Welsh), Irish (i.e. Gaelic) alongside Pictish,

    However, every reliable Pictish placename is Celtic. Even the famous "Pitt" place names have a Brythonic first element ("Pitt" which is basically Welsh "Peth") with a Gaelic second element. The other ones could just as easily be either Welsh or Gaelic.

    I'd treat Bede in many areas just as you would any other early medieval source, with caution.

    Kenneth Jackson suggested that Pictish was non-Celtic but the consensus amongst the current Pict scholars is that he was incorrect and that it was a Brythonic language.

  28. #28

    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    For example, Celtic shortswords would roll under walls of spears to stab the spearmen (like what destroyed the Macedonian army and caused the Pergamons to start kneeling a pike row down, and possibly what helped defeat the early Hellenic-style Romans).
    Will this tactic be in the opening beta? I seriously hope it will be.

  29. #29
    Spends his time on TWC Member Simetrical's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_handsome_viking
    I read somewhere that some Greeks saw nakedness in battle as a sign of courage and skill, is that true? and if so did they ever fight naked?
    I'm not an expert, but I do seem to recall that at some points hoplites of certain areas fought nude or near-nude. I guess it doesn't make much of a difference if you wear a breastplate under your huge shield, does it? Certainly going to be hotter if you do.
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  30. #30

    Default Re: What did the picts look like?

    Ranika, please, write a book collecting your uncle's stories, and others you know. The whole world is waiting to learn more about Celtic literary tropes than faeries and big dogs.

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