From: Michael <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 19 October 2015 14:27
On 19/10/2015 11:21, Mike Weatherley wrote:
>> [Re English speaking Romans on Channel 5].... so little evidence for what the Picts/Caledonians actually spoke to each other before they were >>colonized by the Gaelic Scotti from Ireland, I'm guessing the script-writers used something more like the latter.
>Mike ... on dear!
Just a couple of minor points: You are, of course, correct that the movie 'Centurion' was screened on Channel 5, not 4 (but then, after BBC4, all channels seem much the same to me... I think it must be the commercials). Then again, I'm not sure why you described the Romans in the movie as being 'English speaking'. As far as I know, it was made for an English speaking audience, so that's the reason why the script was (mostly) in that language, rather than Latin. Apart, that is, from the scenes where Michael Fassbender speaks to his Pictish assailants in their own language - or at least, whatever the script-writers were using as a stand-in for Pictish. But then, as the actor has part Irish ancestry, he was an interesting choice for the role.
>There's surprisingly little evidence for a significant change in culture at the (supposed) time of the Scotti invasion. Again, that suggests
>continuity of language. Therefore it is likely that the West of Scotland spoke "Old Gaelic".
But I hope you agree, at least, that Gaelic is a 'Celtic language'...
>The Picts (of whom we only know they might have spoken a welsh-like language) only appear in 297AD and were not present at the time of
> Ptolemy nor are they mentioned by Tacitus.
The movie was set in the early 2nd c. in the region around Inchtuthil and tribes encountered, such as the Caledonii, seem to have been the same people later explicitly described as Picts, and still distinguishable from Britons further south (at least, linguistically).
>Hadrian's wall starts being built as turf.e
The Antonine Wall, too.
The basing of the 9th legion at Inchtuthil in the movie was also a tad late for 117 AD, as the fortress was abandoned 30 years earlier. I actually have a presentation-case of five of the hoard of 750,000 iron Roman nails found by Richmond's excavation in the 50s and rescued from being melted-down at Motherwell. One of them is a foot long (Romans didn't mess about with nails) and probably intended to hold together pre-fabricated supporting timbers for this and other temporary fortresses. Also, it was the 20th legion based there, not the 9th. But then, as the fate of the 9th legion was unknown when Rosemary Sutcliff wrote her novel, the same myth about its disappearance in Caledonia persists in this as well as the movie 'The Eagle', released in the same year. Inscriptions suggest it may have been transferred to the Rhine by c. 120.