New book suggests Roman links with Burghead Picts

Howie Firth

A new book from a Moray-based author has put forward radical theories that suggest Burghead’s Pictish history could also hold Roman connections.

Dr Howie Firth’s book ‘Orkney’ is a comprehensive account of the Island’s history, environment and people – and puts forward a theory the author has developed over a number of years that challenges the established accounts on the origin of Picts.

Now the author is set to explain his theory at Scotland’s first ever community library. The Hopeman Community Library was established in the wake of Moray Council’s decision last year to close the local library despite strong public opposition.

In his talk in Hopeman, Dr Firth will link new ideas about the Picts with investigations carried out on the presence of Romans in Moray.

He said: “Moray is the key to so much of that period and there are some unusual aspects to Burghead that need further investigation – and also several sites which aerial photographs suggest are Roman and substantial.”

In his book Dr Firth has noted that the people of Scythia were the greatest horsemen in the ancient world and much in demand for their military skills.

He added: “Strangely a number of Pictish stones in Scotland show horses carrying out movements that have been identified as sophisticated equestrian skills – the kind that are used in cavalry training.”

He notes that there are historical accounts of the Romans deploying Scythian cavalry in Britain – and that the first historical mentions of the Picts are several decades after a very unstable time when the Romans had to cope with a massive assault from the north.

Dr Firth will speak at Hopeman Memorial Hall on Thursday June 19 at 7.30pm, when there will be a selection of Orcadian fare after his talk and a chance to talk to the author.

Library chairperson Vivien Hendry said: “Hopeman Community Library was opened in April with a visit from author Lari Don.

“The library relies entirely on donations and fundraising at present – in fact all our books and shelves have been donated. Membership is increasing weekly and we need to fundraise to sustain and improve what we are able to offer the community.

“We are delighted to have Dr Firth as our second author to visit.”

Tickets are available priced at £2.50 from Costcutter in Hopeman or guests will be able to pay at the door on the night.

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