The Great Pictish Quiz

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Historians use the term 'Picts' to refer to a cultural and political group that inhabited what is now east-central and northern Scotland in period between c.300 and c.900.

The quiz will cover some of Pictish history broadly speaking, though there might be one or two more difficult ones to reward the nerdier of participants. Give the test a go, and see how you do.

Created by: Dr Neil McGuigan
  1. Our term 'the Picts' comes from Latin 'Picti' (sg. Pictus). How, roughly speaking, do we think that term was understood?
  2. Over the centuries the language of the Picts has attracted considerable scholarly attention. As of the last few decades what has been, roughly speaking, the orthodox view of 'the Pictish language'?
  3. What is the name of the regional polity that seems to have evolved into the larger 'kingdom of the Picts' after the 7th century?
  4. Which Irish saint is said to have visited the court of King Bridei son of Mailcon, leading the conversion of the northern Picts?
  5. In what river, near the seat of King Bridei son of Mailcon, is Columba said to have defeated a water monster?
  6. What was the name of the 'wizard' (magus) that Columba encountered & battled at Bridei's court?
  7. Perhaps the most intriguing legacy of the Picts is their unique repertoire of symbols surviving, largely, on stone monuments. What was the purpose of these symbols?
  8. One of the most common symbol combinations on Pictish stones is the so-called 'Crescent and V-Rod'. What does the 'V' in the 'V-rod' stand for?
  9. Seemingly coined to mean something like 'Very Royal Place', what Pictish-associated site in the shadow of Tap o' Noth in Aberdeenshire has recently been subjected to extensive archaeological investigation?
  10. The battle of Dún Nechtain (also described as Linn Garan and Nectansmere) was fought in 685 between the Picts and a Northumbrian king, resulting in the latter's death. What was the name of the unlucky English ruler?
  11. What was the name of the Pictish king victorious at Dún Nechtain / Linn Garan / Nectansmere?
  12. Before the disaster of Nectansmere, the Northumbrian English had tried to dominate the 'southern Picts' and even setup a certain Trumwine to be bishop over them. At which Forthside church settlement did Trumwine have his seat?
  13. What was the name of the Pictish woman whose sons ruled the Picts between the 690s and 720s?
  14. The Annals of Ulster report for 739 the drowning of a certain local king named 'Talorgan son of Drostan' (Talorggan m. Drostain) by a one 'Oengus', i.e. by Onuist king of Fortriu? What province had Talorgan ruled?
  15. What Moray Firth village, famous today for the 'Burning of the Clavie', is located on the site of a great Pictish-era promontory fort associated with carved images of bulls and a mysterious well?
  16. Forres in Moray is home to one of the largest pieces of monumental sculpture associated with the Picts, a seven-metre cross-slab thought by some to depict a battle or an inauguration. What is its common name today?
  17. According to the St Andrews foundation legends, what was the name of the Pictish king who founded the church of St Andrews in Fife?
  18. Later remembered as the author of the 'treachery of Scone', conqueror of the Picts and first king of the Scots 'in the east', what Pictish king died at Forteviot (Perthshire) in 858?
  19. Said to have been appointed to episcopal office by Pope Gregory the Great, what was the name of the Pictish-era saint commemorated at the church of Fordyce in Aberdeenshire as well as other churches 'in the dioceses of Aberdeen, Moray and Ross'?
  20. What early 16th century collection of hagiographic (saints life) material contains legends about possible Pictish saints like Boniface of Rosemarkie, Ternan of Banchory, Triduana of Restalrig and Necthan of Tullich?
  21. A poem by Robert Louis Stevenson tells the tale of the Scottish king who, having slaughtered most of the Picts, attempts and fails to recover the secret recipe of a Pictish alcoholic drink. What is the name of that drink?

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