The Catti: Tribe of the Keiths

(Presumably, Keith History begins with Adam and Eve, but the race within whose midst the first Keith emerged is the Catti tribe of Northern Scotland.)There are numerous tales of how the Catti tribe came to dwell in Scotland, of how they got that name, and of their origins. A serious student of this matter will explore them all. For our purposes, however, I relate only the bits of several tales, which appear the most colorful and often reported of the bunch.

Story goes that the Catti originated in Hesse (part of Germany), that they were a warring tribe who would not surrender to the Romans, when the legions began advancing north on the continent. Faced with eventual extermination in that quarter, the Catti made their way to what is now Holland. Here they remained for some decades, until Germanticus scourged the region, in about 10 AD, and became known for leveling any settlement which showed a sign of resistance. Neighboring tribes knew that the Catti would elect to fight, and ultimately would risk doom for all. These neighbors had resolved to lay down before Germanticus, and by necessity arranged a deal, whereby the Catti were persuaded to depart the area — intending to resettle, perhaps further west and along Europe’s coast or in Scandinavia. The tribe was provided with two boats, and thus made their way to the North Sea. After some time at sail, these two boats became separated in a storm. One eventually made landfall in the north of Scotland, and settled among the Picts of that region known as Caithness. The other boat was accounted for in other sets of legends.

Once in Scotland–or, rather, in the land later given that name– the Catti shared a region associated with the people called Picts. Perhaps owing the fact that Picts had no written language, their early history and the first few centuries of Catti residence in their midst is not a matter of reliable record. It is said that these folks ceremonially painted their bodies, that they had a rich spoken language, and produced some of the more intricate stone carving done in Scotland. Pictish relics, especially those from the early days of Christianity, are quite remarkable. In any case, scarce notations in writings by Roman conquerors of the island’s southern parts, and by the people known as Scots, make up the only records one may consult in these matters. And this record about Pict and Catti is pretty shabby. However, based upon what is recorded, many cultural features and fighting methods associated with both Pict and Catti are illustrated in the popular movie, “Braveheart”.

Related topics in this web site:

Celts, Picts, Scots, Caledonians, Brittons, Angles, Saxons, etc.