Pictish Man by 16th century illustrator John White was initially intended to be used in a book about Native Americans. When Herriott’s book, A Brief True Report of New Found Land (1580) was published, England had not established a colony in the New World but the English people were very interested. White completed several illustrations of the “barbarians” of ancient Britain, including the Pictish prints. The Pict is shown standing naked with a spear and a small shield. Numerous tattoos cover his body.
Pictish Man is an artist’s concept. While Roman writers report that the Picts were tattooed and went naked into battle, they do not describe the nature or purpose of the tattoos. Although many claims are made about the Picts, their origins and language remain a mystery (and the subject of a post for another day). The Pictish stones may give some hints but there is no certainty. Perhaps, DNA studies might reveal the origins of the Picts who, like the Basques, are shrouded in history. Another of White’s illustrations showed the Pictish Man holding a severed head which would not be that unusual since some Celts did collect the heads of their enemies.
I’m SO fascinated by the Picts that I’m putting aside my current works in progress to write a story about a Pictish princess (The Picts were reported to be matrilineal.) who simply demands that her story be told. The working title is “Amazona” which is the Latin word for a female gladiator. Brianna, my Pictish warrior princess, hooks up with a patrician Roman governor (one of the last Roman officials to leave Britain) to rescue her younger brother who was kidnapped in a raid and sent to Rome. Marcus believes Brianna is a low-status female gladiator and the price of his assistance is her “personal services” as the couple with her war-band race across the English Channel and Spain to reach Rome before the ship carrying her brother arrives. It’s set in the year 410 AD when Spain is the center of the struggle to be Emperor of the Roman Empire in the West and Alaric (king of the Goths) is preparing to sack Rome.
Anyway, early Scotland and the Roman presence there is the theme of the posts at RitaBay.wordpress.com for a few days. Today, the Romans’ letters from the first century AD Fort Vindolanda are featured. BTW, my Pict was edited to obscure his anatomy. No fig leaf, but some artistic blurring. Next week, the Apollo Belvedere—with or without fig leaf or blur? Rita Bay