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The Britons

CRUITHNE, CRUITHNICH, men of the grain, confers exactly with the Celtic "Breatan," a Briton or Pict. Some have said that the original bearer of this name had seven eponymous children who divided Alba (Scotland) among themselves, thus naming the ancient provinces: Cet (Marr and Buchan); Fiobh (Fife); Cirech (Angus and Mearns); Cat(Caithness); Folta (Atholl); Moireabh (Moray) and Fortriu (Strathearn). Two thousand years before the Christian era, legend says that the Cruithne, who lived on the Continent, were hired by the Milesians of Ireland as mercenaries. The Irish people who lived about Inver Slaigne in the extreme southwest were, at the time, plagued by a tribe of virulent visitors from the east who were decimating the population using poisoned arrows. The Picts were were invited to fight for the Irish in return for land and pay. They were successful at eliminating the unwanted element, and were rewarded with a grant of land. Sadly, they were almost as barbaric as the earlier strangers and the chief of that quarter, a man named Crimmthann decided that they needed to be persuaded to "pass on over." Three Pictish chieftains were therefore given Irish wives and granted land in Alba, and according to Seumas McManus this was their wellspring in the land now called Scotland. This is not a universal interpretation of events; it is more usually supposed that the Picts were the early Britons and they are thought to have been in place in Scotland before the Gaels arrived in Ireland . The Irish High King Eremon's victory over the Picts at a later date had slight effect in guaranteeing his descendants overlordship, for all of the various defeated peoples returned to the Emerald Isle from time-to-time. There was a notable influx of the Fomorians from Alba led by the four sons of Umor. They took refuge in Ireland fleeing from the land-hungry Picts, and the high king of the timewas more or less forced into granting them lands in Meath. These people soon found this an unhappy arrangement and fled across the Shannon into Connaught, the great wilderness favoured and dominated by the Firbolgs. There the celebrated Queen Mebd gave them lands in the south of that province, and made them part of her great army. In at least one instance a Pictish king was overlord of Ireland but his tenure was short. There are other tales which distinguish between the Picts and the Britons and we will consider these at a later date.

The text on this page is courtesy of Rod C. Mackay.


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