Picts - in Literature and Popular Culture

In Literature and Popular Culture

Pulp fiction author Robert E. Howard wrote extensively about his romanticized version of the Picts, especially in his short stories revolving around the fictional character Bran Mak Morn, but also in many other of his stories.

Rudyard Kipling devotes several chapters to the Picts in his book Puck of Pook's Hill. Historical fantasy author Juliet Marillier's series The Bridei Chronicles tells of the Picts and Gaels in the sixth century A.D. Nancy Farmer's series The Sea of Trolls depicts fictional Picts. Anne Rice also wrote of fictional Picts, crafting them into the Taltos for her book series The Lives of the Mayfair Witches.

Yet another use of the Picts in a fantasy setting comes in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy fantasy series concerning the Kingdom of Alba and the Picts, and their dealings with Terre D'Ange.

Matthew Stover's Bronze Age fantasy novels Iron Dawn and Jericho Moon chronicle the adventures of Barra Coll Eigg Rhum, a Pictish princess.

The 1982 film Conan The Barbarian features bodybuilder Franco Columbu in a cameo as a blue-tattooed Pictish scout. The 2004 film King Arthur depicts the Picts (called "Woads" in the film) as tattooed and painted savage forest people, led by the dark magician Merlin. Originally enemies to Arthur and his knights, they later unite to defeat the Saxons at Badon Hill. Neil Marshall's 2010 film Centurion features a conflict between a band of Picts and the Roman Ninth Legion. Duncan Kenworthy's 2011 film The Eagle depicts the quest of a Roman officer, portrayed as the son of the commander of the Ninth Legion, into the country of the Picts to retrieve the Ninth's standard along with his Brigantian slave, whom he frees during their journey.

In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, particularly those featuring the Lancre witches, the Picts are an obvious influence on the Nac Mac Feegle, a race of tiny wood-fairies whose speech is influenced by Scottish Gaelic and who are tattooed with blue war-paint. In Carpe Jugulum, they are called "Pictsies."

Arthur Ransome, celebrated author of the classic Swallows and Amazons series of books, titled the eleventh book of the series "The Picts and the Martyrs". Published in 1943, it features the adventures of a group of children holidaying in the Lake District. In the book, two of the children are unexpectedly forced to live secretly in a ruined house in the woods, and they become "Picts". Another two must endure the unwanted presence of their Great Aunt, thus becoming "Martyrs". A general description of historical Picts is given by one of the children when they first take that name, and a somewhat more detailed explanation is given later by a parent in a letter.

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