Thursday 2 July 2009

History of Scotland Part VI - Ramada

We all know what happened to the Roman Empire - it declined and fell, mainly due to relentless attacks in the late 4th and early 5th centuries AD by barbarians. They mostly came from what is now modern day Germany and the Netherlands and they often left their tribal names in the places they invaded and colonised - for example the Jutes (whence Jutland, the peninsula off the north coast of Europe now occupied by modern day Denmark); the Franks (whence France); and the Angles (whence England). These barbarians were all of the Teutonic race as opposed to the Celts who had hitherto dominated Western Europe but there was also a pesky crowd of Q-Celtic Gaels from Ireland called the Scots - no prizes for guessing where they ended up.

Actually, the Scots invaded earlier than the rest: around the mid 3rd century AD is the best guess. They weren't that much of a threat to Rome which, as we have already seen, never seriously attempted to pacify Scotland - especially the bits the Scots settled in, namely, Argyll (to the west of Drum Alban - refer back to the map) and Galloway in the far south west. "Argyll" is a corruption of the Gaelic "Earra-Ghàidheal" meaning "Coast of the Gaels". I can't remember what Galloway means now except I seem to recall that the "Gall-" bit derives from the Gaelic word for a foreigner/stranger. No matter.

Below is a picture of Dunadd, the hill-fort capital of the Scots in Argyll. It's a bit of a broken pot as hill-fort capitals go - not exactly Masada, is it?

(I momentarily couldn't remember the name of the Jewish hill fortress which held out so bravely to the Romans - all I could bring to mind was Ramada the hotel chain! Easily confused.)

Anyway, in the south of Britain a century later, the Angles invading from north east Europe were a big problem to the Romans who responded by doing what Italians do best in the face of military adversity - engage reverse gear on their tanks and retreat. It was in 410AD when the Roman legions departed Britain for the last time (a bit late to save Rome itself from being sacked by barbarians the following year). This left the native Celtic Romano-Britons in a bit of spot vis a vis the invading Angles and also Saxons: I can never remember if Saxony in modern Germany is where they came from or was another bit they conquered but they certainly left their name in the English (!) counties which end with "-sex": Essex, Sussex, Wessex etc.

Now this post is beginning to get long and unwieldy so I'll wrap it up with a summary: 410AD - Scots (Gaels) and Picts (P-Celts) in the north. Romans bog off and leave Britons (P-Celts) to the mercies of invading teutonic Angles and Saxons from north east Europe. To be continued but I leave you with a picture of the sack of Rome by barbarians - it looks to have been a relatively laid back affair:-

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