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Author Topic: Scottish / Irish Crossover  (Read 5236 times)
Innse_Iboth
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« Reply #1: March 29, 2008, 09:05:18 pm »

You are absolutely correct to point out that in many ways it is often misleading to distinguish something as "Irish" or "Scottish" when it is a common feature of the cultural continuum that includes both Irish and Scottish communities. The default position I have observed is that everything Q-Celtic tends to get referred to as Irish, to the extent that I have seen modern Scottish poets who write in Gaelic referred to in the American press as Irish, which is certainly misleading, or more frankly, incorrect. I think this tendency to elide everything Q-Celtic with Ireland may derives from the attempts of some uninformed New World residents to amplify the significance of an Irish component to their background for whatever reason. Also, in Ireland itself the Gaelic language was rebranded as "Irish" after independence because the perception was that the use of the term "Gaelic" by the British to refer to the Q-Celtic language spoken in Ireland was partly motivated by a desire to emphasise what Ireland had in common with Scotland and limit any particularism. Gaelic was rebranded Irish in reaction to this. A consequence is the elision of Gaelic and Irish I have referred to above.   

The main reason I am responding to your post though is I thought I ought to clarify a few points of fact.

Modern scholarship recognises that Q-Celtic languages were not brought to Scotland from Ireland, rather, Q-Celtic languages were once spoken across the entire British Isles and while the successive phases of the adoption of P-Celtic languages never reached Ireland, they did reach Scotland but didn't entirely engulf it. The Pictish language most likely incorporated Q-Celtic, P-Celtic and pre-Celtic elements. The P-Celtic influence in Scotland didn't extend further than the Highland Line, north and west of which a language we would more accurately call Gaelic than anything else was spoken long before Fergus Mor mac Erc led the Scots to Dalriada at the end of the 4th century CE.

The Picts were not "shoved" by the Scots anywhere - the kings of Dalriada in fact occupied a subordinate role to the Pictish kings more often than not, and indeed Dalriada was completely overun by the Picts by the middle of the 8th century CE during the reign of the Pictish king Angus mac Fergus (the likely origin of the carved wild boar to be found at Dunadd, the citadel of the Scots of Dalriada - the boar was a prominent Pictish emblem, which indeed was the "Scottish" royal standard until the adoption of the Lion Rampant by William I "the Lion" in the 12th century CE). However the Norse impact resulted in the extinction of many royal Pictish kindreds and the high-kingship of Alba fell to Cinaed mac Alpin ("Kenneth MacAlpin") around 843 CE (not 1200). Kenneth was most likely the scion of a minor Pictish royal kindred which was in exile in Dalriada at the time. The idea that the Picts were somehow extinguished by the Scots arises in the 11th century with the advent of primogeniture. The need to legitimise hereditary entitlement to royal authority meant a greater emphasis on direct lineage to founding dynasties than before and the kings at the time - Malcolm II, Duncan I, Malcolm III (Macbeth being a notable exception) found it expedient to emphasise descent from Fergus mor mac Erc and this led to the Alba being called "Scotia" for the first time and for the myth that the Picts had in some way been exterminated. Far from it - every seat of royal authority of the Kings of Scots from Kenneth I onwards was a "former" Pictish centre, i.e. there was continuity, and a myth of discontinuity was introduced in the 11th century for the purposes of legitimising a dynasty....   

In another topic, someone mentions The Cailleach as a Scottish deity, so I just thought I'd mention the Scottish / Irish crossover of culture.

In the Dark Ages, the Irish invaded Scotland and settled in Dalriada, which is Argyllshire.  The Picts were shoved over into the east of the country, which is why Scotland has an east/west divide.  In about 1200 Kenneth MacAlpin unified the Picts and the Irish into Scotland and became the first king.

The stories have it that the Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny) was borrowed by Kenneth for the coronation, and he didn't give it back, thus it became the Stone of Scone.

I've read Cailleach stories that are based in Ireland and Scottish stories of Finn Mac Cumhail, so there's a fair amount of crossover.
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