Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Scots did not come from Ireland

David Steele:

THE belief that the Scots are descendants of Irish settlers who crossed from Antrim in the sixth century is being dismissed as a myth by an eminent archaeologist.

In a detailed research paper published by Glasgow University yesterday, Ewan Campbell argues the claimed migrations of the Irish into Argyll can be attributed to "a set of elite origin myths, finding no support in archaeological evidence".

For many years Dr Campbell has been concerned that the received truth that Scots kings were descended from Irish invaders was not the truth at all.

He has concluded any migration between the west coast of Scotland and north east Ireland was in the opposite direction to that previously thought.

The doubts were planted in his mind when he took part in a excavation at the royal fort at Dunadd in Argyll in the 1970s. The dig uncovered strong evidence that this was the inauguration site of the early Scottish kings but gave little indication of any Irish influence.

At this time, the kingdom of the Scots - Dalriada, consisting of Argyll and some of the west coast islands - was a centre of civilisation and trade.

Dr Campbell said: "Looking at the site made us wonder, how did it start? It made us look at the original legends. If they were true you would expect to see Irish types of settlements and artefacts. When we looked for evidence of the Irish origin, there was none.

Dr Campbell said of the accepted belief: "This apparently incorrect account was done by medieval spin doctors for political reasons - to further the claims to the Scottish throne of descendants of Kenneth MacAlpine. It was an early example of an Orwellian rewrite of history."

More on the so-called Irish invasion of Scotland:

The foundation myths of Scotland state that the Scottish Gaels originated from the Dal Riata tribe in Antrim, north-east Ireland. Around AD 500, or so the story goes, Fergus Mor mac Eirc supposedly established a new Dal Riata in Argyll because of dynastic competition at home (Foster, 1996: 13). According to this view, they displaced a previous British or Pictish community from Argyll - a process which eventually ended with the takeover of the entire Pictish kingdom in the 9th century to create the united kingdom of Alba that became Scotland.

Leslie Alcock (1970) examined the archaeological evidence in detail and concluded that there was very little to support the idea that there was a 4th/5th century invasion from Ireland. Similarly, Foster finds no archaeological evidence for this migration. However, she concludes that distribution of artefacts and similarities in monument construction show close links between Antrim and Kintyre from the Neolithic onwards. The evidence also supports an extensive Gaelic-speaking presence during this period along Britain's western coast, including Cornwall, Devon, Dyfed, Anglesey and south-west Scotland.

Very litle archaeology had taken place in Argyll and Antrim prior to Alcock's review, but this was no longer the case by the end of the 20th century. Nevertheless, Campbell (2001) could summarise the current state of knowledge in the following words:

'There is ... no evidence of a change in the normal settlement type at any point in the 1st millennium AD and no basis for suggesting any significant population movement between Antrim and Argyll in the 1st millennium AD. At best, the evidence shows a shared cultural region from the Iron Age, with some subsequent divergence in the later 1st millennium AD. Any cultural influences could be argued as likely to have been going from Scotland to Ireland rather than vice versa.'

Campbell (2001) goes on to examine evidence for an 'elite takeover', similar to the Norman invasion of England. Using comparative dating of brooches as an example, again he finds no support for the notion of dominant arrivals from Ireland. If anything, the influence is (yet again) in the opposite direction.

Wormald (1996: 142-3), referring to an earlier article of his, states:

'I have recently argued that Bede and Alfred provided the ideological charter of a new English kingdom by adapting the Israelite model to Anglo-Saxon experience of the Britons and the Vikings (1994). And, yes, I now venture the same proposal for the Scots, their compeers in ninth century statecraft.'

Campbell (2001) unpicks the written evidence and arrives at a similar conclusion. The Irish Annals of Tighernach provides the following entry for around 500 AD (cited in Campbell, 2001):

`Feargus mor mac earca cum gente dalriada partem britania tenuit et ibi mortus est' - `Fergus Mor, mac Erc, with the nation of Dal Riada, took (or held) part of Britain, and died there'.

But the names Dalriada, Feargus and Earca are Middle Irish. If they had been written at the time, they would have been in the Old Irish forms: Dalriata, Fergus and Erca. This entry could not have been made before the 10th century. In fact, the Annals appear to contain a number of insertions from the 10th century. Campbell cites a similar modification in the Senchus Fer nAlban (History of the Men of Scotland) - thought to have been originally composed in the 7th century and amended in the 10th century. This states `Erc, moreover had twelve sons .i. six of them took possession of Alba' and goes on to list the Dalriadan kings from Fergus Mor to the middle of the 7th century. But there is no reference to a migration so Campbell concludes that it refers to a Royal takeover, not an invasion. Tellingly, the use of the word Alba betrays its 10th century origins as it was not a term used before then for Scotland.

Bannerman (1974) compared the explanation for the Irish in Britain provided by Bede. This was quite different, ascribing their presence to an invader from Ireland called Reuda - hence Dalreuda. Bannerman suggested that this older tradition had been replaced by the Fergus Mor version in the 10th century for 'political reasons'. Campbell agrees: 'These sources, and some other later material, are clearly origin legends of a type common to most peoples of the period, constructed to show the descent of a ruling dynasty from a powerful, mythical or religious figure. Such genealogies, could be, and often were, manipulated to suit the political climate of the times ...'

I think that it is safe to say that we can relegate the so-called Irish invasion of Scotland to the realm of fairy tales.

25 Comments:

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Anselm (Not the Saint) said...

Great Blog! I read it most days.

I linked to the story on the decolonisation of Northern Ireland.

Go raibh maith agat

 
At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have the same obsession with Scots as Hitler had with the Jews. You blame them for a political situation you don't like, so yo want to deport their genetic 'race' back to their country of origin. I am sure that one day there will be a democratic majority in the north which will unify the country, and perhaps it is something to be welcomed.

I only hope for the sake of the country that racist cavemen like yourself are as far away from the island as possible.

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Diarmid said...

Anselm:

Tá fáilte romhat! And thank you for the kind words about my blog.

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger Diarmid said...

You have the same obsession with Scots as Hitler had with the Jews. You blame them for a political situation you don't like, so yo want to deport their genetic 'race' back to their country of origin. I am sure that one day there will be a democratic majority in the north which will unify the country, and perhaps it is something to be welcomed.

I only hope for the sake of the country that racist cavemen like yourself are as far away from the island as possible.


The Jews did not come to Germany as invaders and colonists but that is how the Scots came to Ireland and that is how they live in the north of Ireland today. Being against British colonialism does not make me a racist or a Nazi.

 
At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Scots did not conquer NI or Ireland. There were given farming land (just like the Jews were in Europe by certain nations) by the English crown (just like the American colonisers at the same time).

As I said, you are no better than one of those odious Bosnian Serb ethnic cleansers who believes that their ethnically unpure (as you try to show again and again on here), politically uncomfortable neighbouring population should be 'sent back where they came from'.

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger Diarmid said...

The Scots did not conquer NI or Ireland. There were given farming land (just like the Jews were in Europe by certain nations) by the English crown (just like the American colonisers at the same time).

In other words, they were in receipt of stolen property which means that the Scots who came to Ireland were criminals.

As I said, you are no better than one of those odious Bosnian Serb ethnic cleansers who believes that their ethnically unpure (as you try to show again and again on here), politically uncomfortable neighbouring population should be 'sent back where they came from'.

How you can see it as immoral to support the right of an indigenous people to reclaim land stolen from them by foreign invaders is beyond me.

 
At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In other words, they were in receipt of stolen property which means that the Scots who came to Ireland were criminals."

Are you suggesting that all the Europeans who live in America are criminals?

"How you can see it as immoral to support the right of an indigenous people to reclaim land stolen from them by foreign invaders is beyond me."

It happened 400 years ago. Move on. Your logic would have fully endorsed the ethnic cleansing of the muslims in Bosnian (they were given land by the Ottomans 400 years ago), Slavs in the Sudeten land. And so on and so forth.

I suppose what is quite sad about your quite horrifying racism is that you really see nothing wrong with it.

A sad caveman living in some enthnically pure neverland.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Diarmid said...

Are you suggesting that all the Europeans who live in America are criminals?

Perhaps they are. That is something for Native Americans to decide.

It happened 400 years ago. Move on. Your logic would have fully endorsed the ethnic cleansing of the muslims in Bosnian (they were given land by the Ottomans 400 years ago), Slavs in the Sudeten land. And so on and so forth.

You obviously feel a great deal of sympathy for the British colonists living on stolen land in the north of Ireland, but I don't. I reserve my sympathy for the indigenous Irish population of the Six Counties. It doesn't matter to me whether that land was stolen 400 hundred years or minutes ago, it is still stolen land.

I suppose what is quite sad about your quite horrifying racism is that you really see nothing wrong with it.

It is not "racist" to want to see the indigenous Irish regain land that had been stolen from them through British colonialism.

A sad caveman living in some enthnically pure neverland.

Being against British colonialism and supporting the right of the indigenous Irish to regain their land does not make me a "caveman" sad or otherwise.

 
At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should like to see more history and less politics; what research is out there that will provide some additional support for this theory. (On the face of it a "reverse" migration makes sense, as opposed to the traditional Ireland to Scotland theory, and one might expect more evidence from digs in Ireland to support such a "reverse" migration).
"CRZYPOPMAC@aol.com"

 
At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ulster-Scots will be here to stay,better get used to it.

 
At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Scots did not come from Ireland ? thank god lol

 
At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Malcolm said...

Ulster-Scots will be here to stay,better get used to it.

The Irish should treat the "Ulster-Scots" as you call them the same way you would treat any other vermin such as rats and cockroaches.

 
At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

British crown, not English crown, thank you! And they were not all Lowland Scots, there were also some English settlers. If you have to place blame, blame all the religious and therefore political troubles on the English Monarchy and then the British Monarchy. Their religious beliefs caused enough deaths in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. Poor Wales was lost centuries ago - though not through the religious belief of Edward the First, but by his greed!

 
At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peoples or tribes cannot own land. I never met a people or a tribe or even a government. Only individuals can own land. There isn't any reason why Scots cannot own land in Ireland, north or south, and any democratic government in the North would be majority Scot. So how are the Scots thieves?

 
At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maith an fear Diarmid - when are you going to kick out the Normans and the Vikings? Fool

 
At 2:53 PM, Blogger john said...

Irish Wolfhounds were mentioned by Julius Caesar, in his treatise, The Gallic Wars(58–50 BC), and by 391 AD, they were written about by Roman Consul, Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, who received seven of them, "canes Scotici", as a gift to be used for fighting lions, bears, that in his words, "all Rome viewed with wonder".

 
At 2:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make ireland one again

 
At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Griogairach said...

People, you are like squabbling children, relax. I am no historian, but as far as I am aware, the Romans identified the "Scotti" as a tribe of warlike pirates who operated from the north east of Ireland, Now if the Romans named them as pirates, they were obviously giving the Romans grief. Mind, that one mans terrorist is another's freedom fighter. Archaeologists dig in the dirt. Mo Sean Athair an Scathach. As a Gallic speaker he always used to use Argylle as his yardstick. My spelling may well be wrong, but he translated it as Airegheall, the EASTERN seabord of the Gael. Yet it resides on the West coast of Scotland. It would logically be therefore, the eastern seaboard of what is now, Co. Antrim. Remember archaeologists may also have a political agenda. I submitmy information for adult debate, no childish point scoring from one "tribe" over another.

 
At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Griogairach said...

Also to re-inforce the Eastern theme to Argylle, Armoy in Co. Antrim means "the East of the plain (bog)"

 
At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Griogairach said...

Also, my final word, for today on the subject are thus, these views of the archaeologist are from a Campbell. No such Clann exists, the are Clann Diarmuid, their Chief Diarmuid Mor. Campbell as my sean athair taught me was a pseudonym projected onto they that stuck and became their patronym. I mo teangue it means "twisted mouth" cam "twisted" bueil "mouth" A Campbell can never change, they sided with the English, they forsook Gaelic hospitality at Glencoe, and they peddle their lies to rewrite history to suit a nationalistic agenda even today. We are the diaspora, we are not o be boxed or compmentalised, we are the living breathing Gael. Is rioghal mo dhream

 
At 5:10 AM, Blogger Saki brazil said...

Dr Ewan Campbell is probably a rangers supporter and the thoughts of the Irish giving Scotland its name must make him and his friends vomit

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Ben Angel said...


I am from Sweden, but find it strange that a vast empire failed to beat Scotland. Yet a handful of Irish are able to conquer the whole of the west coast and all the Western Islands.

It would make more logical sense that the Picts or pirates had come from Scotland and formed a colony on the North west of Ireland. This would have given them an ideal trade link and been in a strong military position as well.

 
At 12:56 PM, Blogger Ben Angel said...

...that is to say the vast Roman Empire falied to beat the Scottish

 
At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you fail to notice the DNA studies that suggest that the Irish, Scots, and English DNA are almost the same, and that they are all closely related to Basques. I'm British, part Scottish, part Irish, and part English, but my Dad was born/raised in Scotland, although his great-grandmother was from Cork. Most people in the UK are mixed. Even in ancient times, the Celtic tribes intermarried and moved around. Both Dublin and York, Cork, and many other cities in Scotland, Ireland, and England, were founded by Vikings. I have cousins who are as dark as the dark Irish, and I have Scottish born cousins who are as blond and ginger haired as is seen in Ireland. If you didn't know that the Northern Irish were from Scotland 400 years ago, and you saw one in Dublin, would you know they were different on sight? No, and that's why people have to ask if someone is Catholic or Protestant, and it's the same situation in Scotland too by the way- they have to know which side someone is on through conversation. My Dad's Irish grandmother was officially catholic but she was a wise woman/healer and the second sight has passed down to us as well. I practise the Druidic faith openly now. You people in the Republic of Ireland are practising a foreign faith from the Middle East, not an Irish one, and the Gaels in Scotland are too, and then you want to argue about slightly different versions of the religion of Abraham as a reason to fight? And to discuss the Ulster Scots stealing land, well what about the ancient Irish stealing cattle from each other as a way of life (and the Scottish Gaels too btw)? The kings of Ireland once fought each other and parceled out land to whoever was in favor, so the only difference is that the kings you resent were British and not Irish, but all monarchies always behaved this way without regard for the other people involved. And what about when the Vikings stole land in Ireland? Oh, but they became a part of the local Irish population, so it's ok, right? Why are you choosing to focus on ONE event in history obsessively, and not all the other facts? If you want to be pro-Ireland, that's great, but in my opinion even if you restored Northern Ireland to whoever you think should be there, taking out the "protestants", by making the country 100% catholic, you have not even restored the true Irish faith, which is not Christian but pagan. You'd be better off working to restore the true faith to Ireland, Scotland, and England if what you really care about is heritage.

 
At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shoe will, sadly, be on the other foot, when Levantine Muslims given land in Ireland by the EU (and sold off/out by unscrupulous landholders above market value) start to claim that "everyone is an immigrant" and that there is no such thing as someone indigenous to anywhere (well at least not in Europe). You should express more solidarity with fellow greater Britannic/Gaelic/Celtic peoples against those who would displace you all, given the chance (and Brussels is doing their best to give them the chance).

 

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