The Picts were perhaps the true ancestors of the Scottish nation - our indigenous people. They were first mentioned during the Roman campaign of Emperor Severus in 210 AD and while it is known that they lived in Scotland in the first millennium AD, and their territory was taken over by the Scots in the 9th century, little else is definite.
What has mainly survived is the great heritage of their carved symbol stones, which remain for us to study and cherish. Angus is particularly rich in Pictish heritage and Pictish enthusiasts are spoiled for choice. St Vigeans Pictish and Mediaeval Stone Museum holds many fine examples of Pictish heritage and is well worth a visit.
The earliest sculpture includes incised animals and shapes and can be found on rock faces and in caves. Although no such sites are known in Angus, an early incised stone has been recognised at Westerton, Balgavies, near Forfar.
The Picts won a great victory at the Battle of Dunnichen. Not only did the battle end Northumbrian domination of the Picts, but by curbing the Northumbrian expansion northwards, it created the foundations for the Scotland we know today.
The Battle of Dunnichen with its far-reaching consequences was an event of enormous significance for the Picts, and would have been recounted from one generation to another. Over a century after it took place, the Northumbrian historian, Bede, wrote an account of it.
'Egfrith, King of Northumbria, rashly led an army to ravage the province of the Picts. The enemy pretended to retreat, and lured the king into narrow mountain passes, where he was killed with the greater part of his forces...Many of the English at this time were killed, or forced to flee from Pictish territory.'Bede, AD 731.
The Picts too, left a record of the battle: not in writing but in stone. Standing like an ancient war memorial, the 8th century carved stone in the churchyard at Aberlemno in Angus, tells the story of the battle.