The Aberlemno Serpent Stone, Class I Pictish stone with Pictish symbols, showing (top to bottom) the serpent, the double disc and Z-rod and the mirror and comb
19th century copy of silver plaque from the Norrie's Law hoard, Fife, with double disc and Z-rod symbol

The Picts were a confederation of peoples who lived in what is today eastern and northern Scotland during the Late Iron Age and Early Medieval periods. Where they lived and what their culture was like can be inferred from the geographical distribution of Brittonic place name elements and Pictish stones. The name Picts appears in written records from Late Antiquity to the 10th century, when they are thought to have merged with the Gaels. They lived to the north of the rivers Forth and Clyde, and spoke the Pictish language, which was closely related to the Celtic Brittonic language spoken by the Britons who lived to the south of them.

Picts are assumed to have been the descendants of the Caledonii and other tribes that were mentioned by Roman historians or on the world map of Ptolemy. Pictland, also called Pictavia by some sources, gradually merged with the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata to form the Kingdom of Alba (Scotland). Alba then expanded, absorbing the Brittonic kingdom of Strathclyde and Northumbrian Lothian, and by the 11th century the Pictish identity had been subsumed into the "Scots" amalgamation of peoples.

Pictish society was typical of many Iron Age societies in northern Europe, having "wide connections and parallels" with neighbouring groups.[1] Archaeology gives some impression of the society of the Picts. While very little in the way of Pictish writing has survived, Pictish history since the late 6th century is known from a variety of sources, including Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, saints' lives such as that of Columba by Adomnán, and various Irish annals.


The term Pict is thought to have originated as a generic exonym used by the Romans in relation to people living north of the ForthClyde isthmus.[2] The Latin word Picti first occurs in a panegyric written by Eumenius in AD 297 and is taken to mean "painted or tattooed people"[3] (from Latin pingere "to paint";[4] pictus, "painted", cf. Greek "πυκτίς" pyktis, "picture"[5]).

Pict is Pettr in Old Norse, Peohta in Old English,[a] Pecht in Scots and Peithwyr ("pict-men") in Welsh. Some think these words suggest an original Pictish root, instead of a Latin coinage.[6][7] In writings from Ireland, the name Cruthin, Cruthini, Cruthni, Cruithni or Cruithini (Modern Irish: Cruithne) was used to refer both to the Picts and to another group of people who lived alongside the Ulaid in eastern Ulster.[8] It is generally accepted that this is derived from *Qritani, which is the Goidelic/Q-Celtic version of the Britonnic/P-Celtic *Pritani.[9] From this came Britanni, the Roman name for those now called the Britons.[10]

What the Picts called themselves is unknown. It has been proposed that they called themselves Albidosi, a name found in the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba during the reign of Máel Coluim mac Domnaill, but this idea has been disputed.[11] A unified "Pictish" identity may have consolidated with the Verturian hegemony established following the Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685 AD.[12]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Pikte
العربية: بيكتيون
asturianu: Pictos
Bân-lâm-gú: Pict lâng
беларуская: Пікты
български: Пикти
brezhoneg: Pikted
català: Pictes
čeština: Piktové
Cymraeg: Pictiaid
dansk: Piktere
Deutsch: Pikten
eesti: Piktid
Ελληνικά: Πίκτοι
español: Pictos
Esperanto: Piktoj
euskara: Pikto
فارسی: پیکت
føroyskt: Piktar
français: Pictes
Frysk: Pikten
Gaeilge: Na Cruithnigh
Gàidhlig: Na Cruithnich
galego: Pictos
한국어: 픽트인
hrvatski: Pikti
Bahasa Indonesia: Pict
íslenska: Piktar
italiano: Pitti (popolo)
עברית: פיקטים
ქართული: პიქტები
Latina: Picti
lietuvių: Piktai
magyar: Piktek
მარგალური: პიქტეფი
Nederlands: Picten
日本語: ピクト人
нохчийн: Пикташ
norsk: Piktere
norsk nynorsk: Piktarar
Plattdüütsch: Pikten
polski: Piktowie
português: Pictos
română: Picți
русский: Пикты
Scots: Pechts
Simple English: Picts
slovenščina: Pikti
српски / srpski: Пикти
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Pikti
suomi: Piktit
svenska: Pikter
Türkçe: Piktler
українська: Пікти
中文: 皮克特人