Ancient Places: Scotland [1/?]
Scotland had been inhabited for thousands of years before the Romans arrived. However, it is only towards the Graeco-Roman period that Scotland is recorded in writing.
In the centuries after the departure of the Romans from Britain, there were four groups within the borders of what is now Scotland. In the east were the Picts, with kingdoms between the river Forth and Shetland. In the late 6th century the dominant force was the Kingdom of Fortriu, whose lands were centred on Strathearn and Mentieth and who raided along the eastern coast into modern England.
In the west were the Gaelic (Goidelic) -speaking people of Dal Riada with their royal fortress at Dunadd in Argyll, with close links with the island of Ireland, from whom comes the name Scots. In the south was the British (Brythonic) Kingsom of Strathclyde, and there were the English or “Angles”, Germanic invaders who had overrun much of southern Britain and held the Kingdom of Bernicia, in the south-east.
Conversion to Christianity may have speeded a long term process of gaelicisation of the Pictish kingdoms, which adopted Gaelic language and customs. There was also a merger of the Gaelic and Pictish crowns, although historians debate whether it was a Pictish takeover of Dál Riada, or the other way around. This culminated in the rise of naed mac Ail (Kenneth MacAlpin) in the 840s, which brought to power the House of Alpin. In AD 867 the Vikings seized the southern half of Northumbria, forming the Kingdom of York three years later they stormed the Britons’ fortress of Dumbarton and subsequently conquered much of England except for a reduced Kingdom of Wessex, leaving the new combined Pictish and Gaelic kingdom almost encircled. When he died as king of the combined kingdom in 900, Domnall II (Donald II) was the first man to be called Alban King of Alba.The term Scotia was increasingly used to describe the kingdom between North of the Forth and Clyde and eventually the entire area controlled by its kings was referred to as Scotland.