Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pittsburgh: A Man of Steel, Part One

The word "Medieval" refers to the Middle Ages, that period of European history which falls roughly between the fall of the western Roman Empire (A.D. 500) and the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Some scholars would place the beginning of this era as A.D. 1100, and refer to the earlier part of it (between the fall of the Romans to A.D. 1100) as the Dark Ages. The end of the Middle Ages would, in turn, witness the birth of the Renaissance.

Be that as it may — who could quibble over a few hundred years in a place with such a long history — the fall of the Romans in the West gave rise to the emergence of separate kingdoms and monarchs, as well as an increased power of the Roman Catholic Church.

In Scotland, in the early Middle Ages, between the fall of the Romans and the Kingdom of Alba in A.D. 900, two of the most important of the emerging (4) petty kingdoms were those of the Picts and the Scots..

The Vikings arrived in the eighth century, and established colonies along the coasts and islands. In the ninth century, the Picts and the Scots combined under the House of Alpin to form the basis of the Kingdom of Scotland.

The picture above is of the Monymusk Reliquary which dates to the 8th century A.D. It resides in the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. It was used for saintly assistance by Scots in battle, much as the Ark of the Covenant was used in battle by the early Hebrews. The Reliquary is now empty.


  1. The Picts and Scots 'petty kingdoms?'
    The Romans never conquered them like they did the rest! The 9th Legion walked up into the glens and has never been seen again!
    (rumours that they were sold to passing Ishmaelites who sold them to American Indians is thought likely with the number of Mafia type gangs in New York)
    Hmmm I wonder who was in that reliquary? St Andrew I suppose?

  2. @Adullamite - I certainly wasn't using the word petty to demean or to mean "insignificant." I only use it in the historical context of a "minor" kingdom as opposed to larger Kingdoms which emerged from the combining of petty kingdoms. After the fall of Rome in the west, tribes and clans began to form alliances and the larger ones were known (by historians -- I just get this stuff out of books) as "petty kingdoms." There were 4 petty kingdoms in northern Britain which eventually also merged (about A.D. 800) into the larger (non-petty) Kingdom of Scotland. No offense intend. Honest.

  3. It is today a mystery as to what was inside the reliquary. Religious relics and a couple of Archie comics is my guess. At first I thought it was a hoax from those crazy guys over at the Edinburgh museum, that it was probably really someone's lunch box made out of some copper plumbing and roof flashing. But no, this is the real McCoy. Or MacAlpine. Whichever.

  4. I know what you were saying! I was just playing peeved!
    Had you meant it I would have sued you (in the US) for $45 million dollars for racism and 'hurt feelings.'
    Not that I am greedy or anything....



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