Rev Scott had not spent the years of his ministry in the heart of ancient Pictland in vain. He produced a careful and minute study of the annals of the Pictish nation and church and gave us a picture of what the Picts achieved which must have been much valued by all who were interested in early church history. The ancient and accepted authorities were examined with great skill and much fresh light was thrown upon the history of this branch of the British church. But most interesting was the chapter dealing with the conflict between Picts and Vikings and the exposure of Teutonic methods in the eighth century. It shows how permanent are the characteristics of a people. Not for many years had such a notable bit of original historical work come from a Scottish manse.
In Chapter 4, The Literature of the Picts, Rev Scott wrote “No scrap of Pictish literature ever existed” Such was the ill-founded decision of an accepted Scottish historian. Yet in the “Irish Nennius” reference is made to the Books of the Picts. “As it is written in the Books of the Cruitneach” It was an audacious deliverance to make to a generation which had seen the literary treasures of Europe greatly enriched by the manuscripts from the libraries of the famous Celtic monasteries founded, one at Bobbio by S.Columbanus, the other at St Gall in Switzerland by S.Gall. Both founders were Pictish scholars educated by S. Comgall the Great at Bangor in Ulster, the chief centre of learning among the Irish Picts.”
The Rev Scott goes on to say that S. Gall was born about 545 AD in the ancient territories of the northern Irish Picts, in the north of Leinster and more specifically in the north of Louth on the Ulster Border. Louth of course is in modern Leinster but was in ancient Ulster. He says that ” in an old manuscript from the St Gall library Gall's father’s name was given as Kethernac MacUnnchun. His own name meant “Stranger”. Kethern was the name of one of the early Pictish heroes and Dr Reeves states that he was the race of Ir, progenitor of one branch of the Irish Picts. Ir was the sovereign of Ireland.” Although we are now told not to use the term Irish Pict, though Cardinal O’Fiaich himself used it, I am happy to use the term Cruthin for both the inhabitants of Ulster and of North Britain.
As far as the nickname Gall or stranger is concerned it probably derives from the old continental Celtic tribe the Volcae a name which as Wolch and later Wälsch meant stranger or foreigner to their German neighbours, whose Anglo-Saxon descendants applied the derivative Wealas to the Britons in general. Those in Strathclyde were once called Straecled Wealas and Ptolemy’s Cornovii had migrated to south-west Britain, where they were known as Corn Wealas. Walh can be found in Old High German walhisk meaning “Roman”, in Old English wilisc meaning “Romano-British” and in Old Norse as valskr meaning “French”.Thus the term was used by the ancient Gerrmanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Roman Empire who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages. resulting in Welsche in Early New High German and Modern German as the exonym for all Romanic speakers. In Ireland we have the personal names Welsh, Walsh and Wallace…
And of course the Volcae Tectosages became the “foolish Galatians” of the New Testament.
Was Saint Gall “Irish”?
Part 1, Tuesday, April 5. 2011
Part 2, Wednesday, April 6. 2011
Part 3, Thursday, April 7. 2011
The Origins of Saint Gall, Thursday, April 28. 2011