Picti: from Roman Name to Internal Identity

Nicholas Evans* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Recent scholarship has become increasingly sceptical about the importance of Pictish identity in the first millennium A.D. It has been suggested that Picti was an external Classical general label for people inhabiting northern Britain only adopted internally in the late seventh century. This article reviews the references to Picti in Late Antique and subsequent Insular sources from the late third century to A.D. 700. It proposes that the term was adopted in northern Britain by the end of the Roman period and maintained afterwards through the usage of Latin, due to imperial influence and conversion to Christianity.While not the only ethnic identity upheld in the region, the concept of Picti was used by the Kings of Fortriu for their wider realm in the late seventh century because it was already known and significant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-322
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Medieval History
Issue number3
Early online date25 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • Medieval
  • Scotland
  • late antiquity
  • ethnic identity
  • Roman Britain
  • Britain
  • Picts
  • historical sources


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