I am reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles which states early on, this passage:

The island Britain (1) is 800 miles long, and 200 miles broad. And there are in the island five nations; English, Welsh (or British) (2), Scottish, Pictish, and Latin. The first inhabitants were the Britons, who came from Armenia (3), and first peopled Britain southward. Then happened it, that the Picts came south from Scythia, with long ships, not many; and, landing first in the northern part of Ireland, they told the Scots that they must dwell there.* Anglo Saxon Chronicles

  1. I cannot imagine a Scythia north of the Picts from which they came south.
  2. I read elsewhere (don't ask me where because I do not know) that the western lands of Scythia, around today's Ukraine/Romania were called Germania in the past, and current lands of Germania (eastern France/Germany) were in the past also called Scythia by somebody. Hence, my guess is 'coming from Scythia' means coming from Germania.
  3. I've read in other Irish folklore that the Ireland was founded by women exiled from Scythia.
  • 2
    Wikipedia: "Bede's account has long been recognised as pseudohistorical literary invention, and is thought to be of Pictish origin, composed around 700."
    – Spencer
    Commented Jan 6 at 19:26
  • I think point #1 should be your red flag here (and clearly you saw that too, which is probably why the question in being asked). We know Geographically that passage was wrong before we even start to look into the History.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 6 at 21:49

2 Answers 2


Quick google search reveals

The research team said the Picts were one of the most mysterious of Britain's ancient peoples, but added it was myth they originated from Thrace north of the Aegean Sea, or Scythia in eastern Europe, as suggested by medieval writers. BBC

  • 1
    That sounds dubious. But, then, Rome was founded by escaping Trojans, wasn't it?
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Jan 6 at 19:57
  • 1
    @MarkOlson - That's a very good point, in that no, it wasn't. That bit of the Aeneid is best viewed as Roman propaganda, trying to make themselves as a new (-ly literate) culture look more respectable by claiming roots in an older one. What makes it applicable here is that the claims of Scythian origin for the Picts may well have originated from a similar impulse.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 7 at 3:12
  • 1
    @T.E.D. That was my point. These sort of origin stories are all over the place and rarely true.
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Jan 7 at 10:33

What evidence we do have for the Picts shows them to most likely have shared a Celtic origin with the other neighboring peoples of the British Isles of that time.

We don't have a lot of their language recorded (mostly place names), but what we do have appears to scholars to have been an Insular Celtic language. Current thought is that it was probably in fact Brythonic Celtic, so more closely related to Welsh than to Irish and Gaelic.

Wikipedia tree of Insular Celtic Languages

Since the Insular Celtic languages are thought to have differentiated after their speakers settled the British Isles, this means whatever extra-British origin the Picts may have had, they would have shared it with all other insular Celtic peoples, such as the Irish and Welsh.

Where The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle got this idea for an Eastern European origin, I'll leave to other posters to explore, but it appears it was wrong.

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