The Attacotti: Britons, Gaels or Picts?

Over at the Badonicus blog, Mak Wilson looks at the mysterious Attacotti who raided Roman Britain in the 4th century. Although mentioned here and there in Late Roman sources, the Attacotti remain an elusive group whose place of origin cannot now be identified. Were they Picts from Caithness, or Britons from Wales, or Gaels from Ireland? To one Roman observer they were ‘a warlike race’. Another writer, the great St Jerome, described them as savage cannibals. Mak assembles the scattered fragments of contemporary information and considers the main theories that have attempted to solve the puzzle.

Update: January 2015
Sadly, the Badonicus blog is no more, although Mak is still continuing his research into post-Roman Britain and the history behind the legends of ‘King Arthur’. See the recent post at his new blog for an update on his e-book.

For more information on the Attacotti, I recommend the essay by Carla Nayland.

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12 comments on “The Attacotti: Britons, Gaels or Picts?

  1. badonicus says:

    I am humbled and honoured that you think this blog worth pointing others to. Many thanks Tim.


  2. I very much enjoyed reading it and await the second part. One minor thing: there seemed to be either a snow storm or meteor shower drifting across the page which I found a bit disconcerting!

  3. Vince says:

    Read “Bell Roots” by J. Elton Bell, FSA Scot, for another version of Attacotti. Click, See “Bell Roots” on Amazon. com

  4. Tim says:

    Yes, Mak, this does looks interesting.

    Here are the details of the book at Amazon UK. It covers the history of the Bell surname from the 9th century AD to the present day.

    Vince, can you give us a brief summary of the author’s Attacotti theory?

  5. SeanP O' hAodha says:

    Also, the uprising, not a rampaging at all, was also prevalent throughout ancient Gaul at the same time as Britain. Seems to somewhat coincide with the ancient Irish tales about Niall Noigallach leading his army deep into Gaul to smash Roman colonialism AND the Huns!

    • Tim says:

      I remember seeing an old theory connecting Niall to the barbarian conspiracy of AD 367. It always seemed the right sort of context for a famous ancestral figure – but unfortunately the legends shroud him in mystery.

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