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A Site Dedicated to Scotland's forgotten hero and the investigation into the truth behind the Roman version of our country's ancient history.
The united Pictish army withstood the mighty Roman Legions for some five or six years. But the Romans could not hold their ground; Scotland was never fully conquered.
Click here for the whole scrolled story. Click here to go straight to a personal, perspective viewpoint of Calach, the first Scottish Hero. Click here for the Roman Governor Julius Agricola's story. Click here for the background of the writer and historian; Cornelius Tacitus. Click here for the actual battle details. Click here for the aftermath of the battle. Click here for the reasoning into why the Romans left so quickly. Click here for an explanation of the aims of the site in general. Click here for the guestbook and to email the author. Click here for the links and the awards won by the site.

Perhaps Calach; the leader of the picts looked something like this.(Photo IH/KD)

Calach; the chief who united the Pictish clans and pushed back the might of the Roman empire. After the initial four years of war, the eventual frontier between the two opposing forces would stand virtually unchanged until the present day.
As far as Calach is concerned, usually the good guys; everybody cheer! North of Hadrian's wall these are usually the bad guys, everybody boo hiss!

One of the most fought over frontiers in the world's recorded history; The border between Scotland and England.

The year is 80AD. The Roman empire was extended almost to its maximum. For almost 40 years the Romans had controlled the south of Britain and had been steadily advancing north. Under command of their new Governor, Julius Gnaeus Agricola, their legions now stood at Carlisle and Newcastle, ready for the final push north into the country now known as Scotland.

This is known historical fact.

But the Roman invasion of Scotland backfired on the centuries-old Empire; it united the Pictish clans under one man; Calach.

This website is the story of the first documented invasion of Scotland.

The Picts on one side. The Romans on the other side.

The text which most historians (myself included) lean heavily on is the Biography of Agricola; written in 97AD by Tacitus, his son in law.

From Tacitus' biography and other Roman writings we have the terms Caledonia, Pict, he first gives names to the Clyde and Tay rivers,and much more. Tacitus gives first mention to the Pictish leader, calling him Calgacus, or Galgacus but for the rest of the text I will use a more gaelic, less latin version; 'Calaich' or 'Calach', meaning "The Swordsman".

Centurion's Helmet from 1AD The aims of the website
The leader of the Celts at the Roman/Pict day at Archaeolink.(Photo IH/KD)

Too many text-book historians accept what they read at face value. Historical "facts" in these books are passed from author to author until the truth behind them is long forgotten.

In this website, we hope to examine the facts as they stand, without strict reference to "accepted" text-book history, and offer some intelligent, structured conjecture.

We base our postulations on a knowledge of Roman military tactics, a modern analysis of Tacitus' writings and up to date archeaological data. Through these, we try to rationalise what information is available to us, and hopefully come to a reasonable set of conclusions.

The Author, fraternising with an enemy artillery detachment at the Roman/Pict open day at Archaeolink, Aberdeenshire.(Photo KD) Points not in dispute....

It is not disputed that Julius Gnaeus Agricola and the Roman army invaded the low lying lands of Scotland. They encountered stiff resistance from the united indigenous tribes, who's successful guerrilla tactics forced them to build various walled and patrolled frontiers, some of which are still in evidence today. After approximately six years of warfare, they retreated back to their starting points, relinquishing all their hard won lands.
Points in dispute....

  • The accuracy of Tacitus's text.
  • The truth behind Tacitus' writings,
  • and therefore most of the "accepted" history of the period.

Gaius Cornelius Tacitus; the Historian.

Firstly, before we deal with either the facts or the history, let us impart a little of the background of the man who is responsible for writing the biography of Agricola. The literary work which most of the information of the invasion of Scotland is founded.

To continue the story, press the continue key.
Click here to continue the story.

The Author, relaxing and flying the flag before a Scottish Claymores victory over some German team, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, 2000. There is a school of thought that the kilt; the Scottish national dress is derived from Roman uniforms.  Look at the evidence, decide for yourselves.

Links to useful associated resources:

Scottish History Online


Rome Military Resources

Brittannia Roman Sites

Ermine Street Guard

Pictish Arts Society.

Archaeolink Prehistory Park

Clan Macfarlane Website

Elmsella Family Scottish Website

Rampant Scotland; Great directory!

Go to Scottish search to rate this site!

Thanks are given here to the Ermine Guard, who's permission to show many of the images has both enhanced the look, and, hopefully, made the website more interesting.

Thanks also to Karla, my wife, for her constant support, her ideas, critisism, and for most of the action photos from the Roman/Pict day at Archeaolink.

There's no guestbook (because it got corrupted), but if you have any views on the above, (good or bad)please feel free to e-mail me.

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Content copyright 2000 held by the author; Ian Hall.