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"Dark Ages VS Ancient Picts" Topic

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912 hits since 19 Feb 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

wmyers19 Feb 2019 3:03 p.m. PST

Picts seem to be that one group that keeps getting mentioned and referred to but there is a very limited amount of authentic information about them available.

Looking at miniatures companies you see some advertise "Dark Ages" Picts with cloaks and hoods (based on some carvings) and then you see others advertise ancient Picts dressed the same. While others represent Picts with, essentially, Celts/Gauls/Britons as ancients.

I am going to presume the hoods are more of a Dark Ages costume?

Any insight?

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2019 3:10 p.m. PST

There is very little historical evidence to go on. It's anybody's best guess.

Personally, if I lived in Pictlandia, I would want to wear a cloak and hood; rains a lot and the weather can get rather raw. Even Roman soldiers stationed on the Wall wrote home and asked for socks.

corona66 Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2019 8:21 p.m. PST

As the owner of a large Pictish army which can straddle Ancients and Dark Ages, the only differences I could ever find were chariots for the Ancients and no chariots but more horse (or ponies) for Dark Ages. As for tattooing or woad painting, who knows? And as miniMo said, living in Scotland would certainly require hoods and cloaks.

wmyers19 Feb 2019 10:17 p.m. PST

Thank you for the replies. Yes, wool cloaks would definitely help with rain.

So many figures are shown with no clothing on besides said hooded cape, though. I wish the companies and artists would explain their research to gain a better understanding of what they are trying to express and give deeper meaning and understanding of the miniature sculptures they have spent many hours upon.

Damion19 Feb 2019 10:17 p.m. PST

Ancients had hoods. The cucullus of the Romans was likely of Celtic origin and there are various cult statues from Gaul of men dressed in such hooded cloaks. The lower part varied in length and the classic medieval shoulder cloak with hood is a shorter version of this.

Pictish stones do show Picts wearing hoods and long cloaks though. What would be more interesting is whether they wore trousers under their cloaks and tunics. I suspect they did.

Lewisgunner20 Feb 2019 3:26 a.m. PST

you can get a reasonable idea of Picts from the contemporary carvings on standing stones. Try the Aberlemno stone as a starter its about 700 AD,
One thing that you can say about Picts with fair certainty is no trousers!, But then we are talking of the area which later produces Highland Clans so that might be a clue. As to being naked, that might be a topos, you know something Classical and even later medieval writers ascribe to a group because that is always how you, as a classically educated writer, describe them, but there may be some truth in it.

kodiakblair20 Feb 2019 11:05 a.m. PST

Why would the Picts and later Highland folk not wear trousers ?

Simple answer is because of the wet weather. There was next to nothing you could call roads so the people hiked across the land. Trousers get soaked real fast going cross-country and when peat fires are your lot take an age to dry.

Bare legs dry in no time once you reach shelter.

The penny dropped when I was working near Rob Roy's grave. 2 fellas worked the fields in shorts all year round and a hermit fella living rough only wore a kilt. The hermit would don shoes if going into town.

Ten Fingered Jack Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2019 2:25 p.m. PST

Picts is Picts

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2019 3:20 p.m. PST

The 'naked' thing could be a misunderstanding. The term was used by the Romans, and possibly others, to mean 'without armour' rather than 'without clothes'!

Dn Jackson20 Feb 2019 4:24 p.m. PST

"So many figures are shown with no clothing on besides said hooded cape, though. I wish the companies and artists would explain their research to gain a better understanding of what they are trying to express"

For what it's worth…I was reading a book describing an area of southern Scotland. the author had spoken to a local who was riding a horse in the rain with no coat on. he asked why he wasn't wearing it and the local replied with, essentially, 'What's the point? Before long it will be soaked through and the horse will have to carry me and a heavy, water soaked coat, and I'll be wet either way.'

Elenderil06 Mar 2019 6:51 a.m. PST

The problem with creating figures for the Picts is the lack of primary evidence. There are a number of carved stones which are considered to have been carved by them but even then we can't be sure if the figures included are of Picts or, where they depict a battle, of their enemies. Where it is thought that they are Picts are they dressed for war or hunting? They didn't leave any written records of their own so any period accounts are from people who may have been biased in their portrayal of the Picts.

By the 8th Century the Picts and Dal Radian Scots (an Irish tribal grouping settled in the area north of the Clyde) were closely interconnected by marriage within the Royal houses. There would probably have been some cross influences in dress for the upper classes as a result. Or then again perhaps not. You start to see the problem here. Add to that the need to create figures which show a difference between say Picts, Caledones, Dal Raidian Scots etc and the problem multiples.

There are a few things we can say with some certainty. Pictish shields seem to have been of a distinctive shape in the early period at least, both square and H shapes are seen on standing stones. Their archers included crossbows at least for hunting and they seem to have favoured longer spears in comparison to their neighbours. Roman accounts claim they favoured long straggling beards and long unkempt hair. But that could just be Roman propaganda.

My preference for depicting Picts (try saying that three times quickly) is to have some or all of them in hooded cloaks, with a short tunic and bare legs and feet. The cavalry and spearmen to have the odd shaped shields. Skirmishing light foot to have some crossbows as well as short bows. Now if only someone made those in 6mm!

Damion06 Mar 2019 3:29 p.m. PST

We know little to nothing about this region. We don't even know how the kilt/plaid came into being other than it seems to have appeared in the 16th century but what did it evolve from?

Bog finds from the middle ages show some highlanders did wear trousers as did early Irish. The Norse obviously wore trousers and the Britons who the Romans wrote of wore them though the mile stones along the wall showing Roman horsemen riding over barbarians show naked barbarians and small square shields.

Did they fight naked or was this standard artistic practice of the Romans to show barbarians, or at least Celtic speaking ones.

We have very little to go on unfortunately.

FatherOfAllLogic08 Mar 2019 7:32 a.m. PST

Look at the opportunity! We know very little about many ancient peoples which gives you free reign with your imagination compared to say, napoleonics. And little fear of contradiction. Go with your feelings!!

wmyers08 Mar 2019 9:24 a.m. PST

Thank you for all the responses. I have been doing pretty much what Elenderil has with his Picts.

Now, for colours …

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