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The Picts were a confederation of Celtic-speaking peoples who lived in what is today eastern and northern Scotland during the Late British Iron Age and Early Medieval periods. Where they lived and what their culture was like can be inferred from early medieval texts and Pictish stones. Their Latin name, Picti, appears in written records from Late Antiquity to the 10th century. They lived to the north of the rivers Forth and Clyde. Early medieval sources report the existence of a distinct Pictish language, which today is believed to have been an Insular Celtic language, closely related to the Brittonic spoken by the Britons who lived to the south.
Picts are assumed to have been the descendants of the Caledonii and other Iron Age tribes that were mentioned by Roman historians or on the world map of Ptolemy. Pictland, also called Pictavia by some sources, achieved a large degree of political unity in the late 7th and early 8th centuries through the expanding kingdom of Fortriu, the Iron Age Verturiones. By the year 900, the resulting Pictish over-kingdom had merged with the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata to form the Kingdom of Alba (Scotland); and by the 13th century Alba had expanded to include the formerly Brittonic kingdom of Strathclyde, Northumbrian Lothian, Galloway and the Western Isles.
Pictish society was typical of many Iron Age societies in northern Europe, having "wide connections and parallels" with neighbouring groups. Archaeology gives some impression of the society of the Picts. While very little in the way of Pictish writing has survived, Pictish history since the late 6th century is known from a variety of sources, including Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, saints' lives such as that of Columba by Adomnán, and various Irish annals.
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