The Scottish Celtic people are also known as Pict's, the word Pict having its roots in Latin. They lived in Northern Britain at that time and the Romans described them as being covered in pictures of animals and other figures. The Pictish people were so notoriously difficult to conquer that Hadrian, a Roman Emperor of the time, built a stone wall across Britain to keep them out of the South, effectively ceding them the North which we know today as Scotland.
Scottish Picts symbols are known for their intricate Knot Work, animals and Spirals just as Irish, British and Welsh Celtic symbols are, but they have a vast array of symbols not seen in other Celtic traditions and which are often found on Pictish Stones. There are approximately 35 different symbols depicted on these ancient stones, some are abstract while others depict animals, there also exist representations of everyday items. These stones may have served as memorials or as a way to depict clans and lineage.
The Scottish Picts were tribal and although their language is lost they left a wealth of large monoliths carved with mysterious Scottish Celtic designs known as 'picture' stones of which there approximately fifty major picture symbols.
While some of these symbols are easily identifiable such as animals and other mythical creatures, others are more mysterious and consist of crescents or V-rods or double disk emblems. After their conversion to Christianity in about the 5th Century many Scottish Celtic symbols began taking on a more Christian theme, which reflects in their carvings. In fact, many of the Celtic Crosses that exist in England and Scotland are Pictish Stones.
Enigmatic or Mysterious Symbols
Perhaps the most unusual or mysterious of these Scottish Celtic symbols are ones we know as the V-rod, Z-rod or double disks, which are named after their shapes. The V-rod looks as though it is an arrow bent or superimposed over a crescent and its more common translation is one of death.
The Z-rod is often found depicted on stone carvings along with either a serpent, a tomb or doorway and a double disk, or sun. These symbols are perhaps meant to depict the solar cycle and the afterlife, or death.
Mirrors though not commonly regarded as enigmatic are mysterious because of the fact that they were deemed a symbol important enough to immortalize in their carvings. The mirror is often paired with a comb and is thought to be a symbol of the wealth and power of Scottish Celtic women. These stone carvings are believed to denote a memorial and are also often seen together with carvings of mermaids.
Pictish animal symbols are thought to have been related to the relationship they had with Gods and Goddesses and include animals seen in other Celtic tribes such as boars, fish, birds and wolves. They go further though and many Celtic Scottish symbols depict monsters, mermaids and sea creatures. One of these creatures is the notable Pictish Beast.
The Pictish Beast is also known as the Pictish Dragon or Pictish Elephant. It is not usually identifiable with a real animal and rather resembles a seahorse. The Picts used this creature in about 2 out of 5 of all their animal depictions, which meant they must have credited it with great importance. What it is thought to represent is either a highly important person or perhaps even a political symbol.
The earliest of all Scottish Celtic symbols stem from the ancient Druids. Called Druid Symbols they include Wreaths and Staves. These designs have their origin in heraldic designs which often featured wreaths made from oak leaves.
A more modern symbol is the Awen which in Gaelic means inspiration or essence. The three parts of the symbol represent the harmony of opposites. The left and right bars, or rays represent female and male energy and the center ray represents the harmonious balance between them.
An ancient Druid symbol was the Sun Wheel which had six or eight spokes and which was meant to represent the solar calendar. The Celtic cross has its origins in this motif. Another modern Druid symbol is the Tree of Life which was commonly used in Pagan times but was later adopted for Christian use.