Christianity Comes to Scotland The Picts & The Saints - @RMPSHarris

This lesson ends with a role play of a meeting between the Picts and the Saints. To understand what that meeting might have been like, work your way through the text and videos to understand how Christianity came to Scotland.

The Picts

The Picts lived in Scotland many years ago. Long before Christianity arrived on these shores.

Not much is known of how they got here, but they were the people that ruled the land when the saints came to deliver the message of Christianity a few hundred years after the death of Jesus. Many believe the Picts got their names from the Romans. The word Picti in Latin (the language the Romans used) means painted ones and the Pictish people where famed for their tattoos and body art. They were fierce in battle and many tales are told of how they protected the Scottish borders from advancing armies from the south.

It was the Picts that lived on the land and ruled Scottish shores when the first Christian missionaries or Saints arrived around the 5th Century. Their religion was very different from Christianity and they followed a form of 'polytheism'. This word means that they believed in many different Gods rather than just the one God which is central to the Christian faith.

The Saints in Scotland

The Saints in Scotland

The Saints were missionaries who are credited with spreading Christianity to what we know as present day Scotland. They mostly came from Ireland and started landing on Scottish shores four to five hundred years after the death of Jesus.

Saint Columba

Saint Columba (521 – 597 A.D.) was an Irish missionary credited with spreading Christianity to present-day Scotland. He founded the abbey on the western Isle of Iona, which became one of the most important religious and political places in Scotland for centuries. Columba had a great relationship with the Gaelic warrior kings on and around Iona. His monastery provided education for the Sons of the warrior Kings and he would also later become an advisor and diplomat for the Kings. In return they gave him protection. It was missionaries such as Saint Columba that helped transform the thinking of the Picts and spread the message of Christianity across the country.

Saint Regulus & St Andrew

Saint Andrew was one of the disciples and also the patron saint of Scotland. The story is told that the Christian missionary Saint Regulus (sometimes called St Rule) was told by an Angel in a dream, that for safe keeping, he must take the bones of St Andrew and travel west where he should found a church dedicated to St Andrew.

The most common accounts tell us that Saint Regulus was either shipwrecked or told in another vision by an angel to stop on the shores of western Scotland at the spot called Kilrymont, a Pictish settlement which we now know as St. Andrews, only a few miles from Dundee. Here he was welcomed by the Pictish king, Óengus I

Not too much is known of the meeting between St Regulus and the Pictish King Óengus I. The bones of Saint Andrew where said to have been laid to rest in the site that is now St Andrews cathedral ruins. So the meeting must have went quite positively for Saint Regulus.

In your groups your task is to create a role play that explains what the meeting in St Andrews might have been like, and how Saint Regulus played his part in converting the Pagan Pictish people to Christianity.

To Be successful, your group must;

  • Read through the information about the picts and the saints.
  • Create a script that explains what the meeting between Saint Regulus and the Pictish King might have been like.
  • Give the people in the group a role and act out your script, which your teacher and/or peers may assess.



Created with images by Adrian Dascal - "untitled image" • Stephanie LeBlanc - "untitled image" • Jan Paweł Bochen - "untitled image"