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Scots and Britons

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

An investigation of the two early 'kingdoms' and peoples of first Millennium Scotland incorporating recent knowledge to better understand the eventual development of the Scottish nation.

Course Details

Content of Course

1. Scotland at the time of the Romans; tribal confederations and early peoples.

2. Original sources, Roman and Christian. The creation of Scotland's history?

3. The Archaeological and linguistic background. Similarities and differences.

4. Who were the Britons? Cultural and genealogical links to the Gododdin and Welsh. Arthur of the Scots?

5. Who were the Scots? Incomers or indigenous people?

6. The coming of the Christians. Stories of the saints as a sidelight on history.

7. Relationships with the neighbours; Picts, Northumbrians and Irish. Warfare and survival.

8. The 'disappearance' of the Britons? Why do we know so little of Strathclyde?

9. The influence of the Norsemen. Raiding , invasion and settlement.

10. The eventual creation of Alba. Scottish merger with the Picts and the subsequent incorporation of the south.

Teaching method(s)

Lecture and discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to

  • Access a wide variety of source material on Scottish history

  • Understand the social and economic structure of tribal societies

  • Realise the inherent continuities, social, economic, linguistic and historical between the various groups that underpin the creation of Scotland


Core Readings


  • Sant Admnan.1995. Life of St Columba. London: Penguin.

  • Campbell, E., 2000. Were the Scots Irish? Antiquity Vol. 75:288 2001 pp. 285-292.

  • Foster, S.M. 1996. Picts, Gaels and Scots. London: Batsford.

  • Smyth. A. P. 1984. Warlords and Holy Men. London: Edward Arnold.


  • Headeger, L. 1992. Iron Age Societies; From Tribe to State in Northern Europe 500BC to AD 700. London: Blackwell.

  • James, S. 1999. The Atlantic Celts; Ancient People or Modern Invention. London: British Museum Press.

  • Koch, J.T .& Carey, J. 2003. The Celtic Heroic Age. Aberystwyth: Celtic Studies Publications.

  • Laing, L. & J. 1993. The Picts and Scots. Stroud:Alan Sutton.

Web Sources

Life of St Columba

Early Sources of Scottish History

Were the Scots Irish?

Class Handouts

Excerpts from The Gododdin, Irish Annals, Roman sources, genealogies of "The Men of the North", Senchus fer nAlban.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.