Picts, an ancient people of North Britain, inhabiting the E. coast and lowlands of Scotland. They are supposed to have been identical with the ancient Caledonians; the name Picti (painted), probably derived from their custom of painting their bodies, occurs first in a speech of the rhetorician Eumenius, A. D. 296, to the emperor Constantius Chlorus on his return from the victory over Allectus. After this they are frequently spoken of by Roman historians, and Ammianus Marcellinus in the annals of the year 368 says that they were divided into the Dicalidonae and Vectu-riones. Their incursions proved very troublesome to the Roman portions of the island. The southern Picts were converted to Christianity under the preaching of St. Ninian early in the 5th century; the northern Picts by St. Co-lumba late in the 6th century. They suffered severely for centuries from the invading Scots of Ireland, whose king Kenneth II. finally subdued them in 843, thus making all Scotland for the first time subject to one king, and fixed his residence at Forteviot in Stratherne, the Pictish capital. It has been a subject of dispute whether they were of Celtic or Teutonic descent. Their language bore some resemblance to the Welsh, and it was the opinion of Camden that the modern "Welsh are of Pictish origin.
Singular architectural remains still exist in various parts of Scotland, which are popularly called Picts' houses.