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on August 8, 2007
As with all of osprey's Men-at-Arms books, this one is well written and jam packed with useful information. The only problem I see is the art work. Every Osprey book I've read so far has amazing illustrations. This one however seems as though it was thown to a random staff member who likes to draw. The illustrations seem much more like japanese anime than anything else. It doesnt seem like any of the images were taken seriously and it was hard for me to take them seriously seeing as I felt like I was watching an episode of Pokeman. This aside, its still a great booklet and I highly recommend it.
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on March 19, 2015
While many Osprey books are well done, this one should be rewritten as
both the text and the colour images are misleading or inaccurate.

The seven kingdoms of the Picts did not exist at the same time according to a paper by Dauvit Broun in Alba: Celtic Scotland in the Medieval Era, edited by Cowan and McDonald. Matriliny has been discredited by Alfred Smyth in Warlords and Holy Men.

Because there is so little known about the Picts, much has been borrowed or invented. Although there are major errors of interpretation, I'll focus on one: the end of the Picts.

While Wagner calls the murder of the Pictish nobility a legend, he feels it's probably true: 'While not exactly history this story certainly explains how the Scots could inherit the land when "the Picts were far superior in arms"'. Wrong.

Such a murder would have been written down in church annals, the best source for dates and events in this period. Not a syllable about it in the contemporary annals.

Actually the kings of both Picts and Scots were decisively defeated by vikings in 839 and that was noted by the annalists: 'The heathens [Norsemen] won a battle against the battle the men of Foirtriu [Picts] and Eoganan son of Aengus [king of Scots], Bran son of Oegnus and others almost innumerable fell there.' --Annals of Ulster

Kenneth MacAlpin (Cinaed mac Ailpin) became king in a power vacuum and reinvigorated the resistance to the Norse. He became king of Picts in 843 and ruled about 17 years. All of the references to murder and destruction of the Picts date to a period hundreds of years after his death.

In case you were wondering, the annalists were not shy about reporting murder. The Chronicum Scottorum recorded the death of Muiredhach son of Eochaidh, king of Uladh (Ulster), who was murdered by his brothers, Aedh and Aengus, and others in AD 839.

Some may say the book is only an introduction and need not be too accurate. I disagree. I think it should be rewritten by a person with a qualification in Scottish History or Celtic Studies who is aware of recent scholarship.

Better introductory books:

Martin Carver, Surviving in Symbols: A Visit to the Pictish Nation, Historic Scotland
Angus Constam & Peter Dennis, The Strongholds of the Picts, Osprey
Stephen Driscoll, Alba: The Gaelic Kingdom of Scotland AD 800-1124, Historic Scotland
Nic Fields, D Spedaliere & S Sulemsohn Spedaliere, Hadrian's Wall, Osprey
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on March 17, 2003
This is a typical Osprey book. A great introduction to a specific topic. It has many color illustrations and maps. Not many books written about the Picts. This is a good introduction to the style of warfare in Great Britain toward the end of the Roman Empire. I like these books because they give you a general background and then suggestions for further reading. The book is only 64 pages so it will only take an afternoon to read it. Very little detail, but enough info to get you started and give you the ability to talk about the subject. The following is an "About This Book" quote from the Osprey website which is not included on the site. It is helpful. "First mentioned by name in AD 297, the Picts inhabited Northern Britain from the end of the 3rd century AD to the 9th. They rose to power in the devastation following Emperor Septimus Severus's repression of the Caledonians in AD 208, and dominated Northern Britain for over 500 years, before vanishing mysteriously. The Picts represent a high point of Celtic civilisation, remaining free and unconquered beyond the borders of the Roman world, and rising to become the first barbarians to form a recognisable 'nation'. This title takes a detailed look at their origins, and examines Pictish heroic and warrior society, covering education and training, appearance and equipment, the status of women, and the experience of battle."
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on March 31, 2007
A fine book. The author uses a combination of Roman historians, Welsh and Gaelic mythology, and archaeology to paint a believable picture of the fearsome warrior culture today called 'Picts'. He examines their origins as a people, the origin of their name (it may well be a tribal name in their own tongue, rather than from Latin 'painted'), and their history with the late Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Gaels, the Norse, and the Scots who finally assimilated them. The text also details the daily life of the noble warrior, the warband on campaign, and the philosophies by which the Celtic warrior in general lived. What little is known of Pictish armor, costume, weaponry, and battle tactics is also detailed. The plates, by Wayne Reynolds are excellent and do a fine job of supporting the text.

Plate A shows a Caledonian warrior at the time of Septimius Severus' Scottish campaigns of the beginning of the 3rd Century. The Caledonians are often said to be the same as the Picts, but appear to have been a Brythonic-speaking people (similar to the southern Britons) that were assimilated by the Picts

Plate B shows characters from Irish myth recreated as Pictish warriors. These are Chulainn and Scathach training at the latter's School of War, while other champions and students look on.

Plate C shows a Pictish boat, like they may have used to carry out piratical raids

Plate D shows a Pictish raid on Hadrian's wall in the 4th Century AD. Several heavily tattooed Picts are shown in combat with Romano-British soldiers. Some of the Celts are also shown fighting naked in the traditional manner, and one is using a lasso to pull a defender off the wall.

Plate E shows different Pictish weapons, swords, bucklers, axes, and a spear.

Plate F gives us two warriors of the later Pictish period, a noble horse-warrior in scale armor, and a common warrior with a pike and buckler. The illustrator illustrated most of his Picts, even the later ones, with swirling tatooes on at least their lower legs.

Plate G shows the 'Law of the Innocents'; a Pictish warrior-woman was killed in battle with Northumbrians, and upon the sight of her child sobbing at her breast, the mother of the Abbot of Iona forced him to pass a law in which women were forbidden from going to war-a custom that had been very common in northern Britain.

Plate H shows Pictish pikemen in combat with the horsemen of Strathclyde, while some Pictish horse-warriors ride around the left flank throwing spears at the enemy.

Both the text and plates in this book are highly detailed and exciting, and are highly recommended for anyone interested in this fierce warrior society.
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on May 5, 2014
Being fascinated by history, especially ancient/early medieval history, I found this book helpful in learning more about the Picts. The book of course covers mostly the military aspect of this culture, but also does a good job of introducing Pictish culture, or at least what we understand of Pictish culture. Another aspect of this book that I liked were the illustrations, which made the subject matter more real. Overall a good introduction. I think this is why I like the Osprey series, they cover many different nooks and crannies that one wouldn't otherwise find when studying military history (and no I wasn't pad to write a review).
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on October 6, 2014
A good read of an ancient people known as the Picts that ruled the areas of northern Britain (Scotland) during the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages. A fierce fighting warrior tribe. This book has cool pictures and maps of the time of the Picts.
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on February 3, 2014
The Pict people were still there, it's the *hierarchy that disappeared; they were slaughtered by their so called allies, the Scotti.
They didn't disappear any more than the Britons after being overrun by the Saxons and Angles.
One country is called England because the Angles name and language became dominant. Another country is named Scotland because the Scotti eventually took over control of Caledonia.
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on August 18, 2015
It was a brand new book so in exclwnt condition. I have read alot about the Picts but this book told me some new information.
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on May 26, 2016
I love your ancient world selection. Interesting to see the Vietnam war Skyhawk as a Pictish weapon.
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on May 1, 2015
Such a dark and mysterious topic, not a fan, but now I got interest. Thanx.
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