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Who are the mysterious Picts of Scotland and How they brewed the legendary heather honey
Who are the mysterious Picts of Scotland and How they brewed the legendary heather honey

In Scotland, a drink is produced, the recipe for which dates back more than a thousand years. This is a Scottish ale made from heather. The authorship of this drink belongs to the disappeared people - the Picts. People of the older generation will probably remember the wonderful, touching ballad of R. Stevenson "Heather Honey", which was translated by S. Ya. Marshak. It mentions a mysterious people - the Picts, who lived in the territory of modern Great Britain and Scotland.

Who are the Picts

The source that inspired R. Stevenson to write the ballad was the legend "The Last of the Picts", created in the Middle Ages. This legend was passed down from generation to generation among the inhabitants of Galloway County, which became the last place where the Picts lived.

Ballad R. Stevenson "Heather Honey"

Scientists, up to the present time, cannot say anything for sure about the origin of this people, about its life and traditions. It is also not known for certain where the Picts disappeared.

Presumably, they were assimilated into the Scottish tribes (Scots), since 10% of the inhabitants of Scotland find the Pictish chromosomes in their genes. In Ireland, only 3% of residents have such DNA markers, and in England itself - only 1% of residents.

Pict warrior

After themselves, this amazing people left the chronicles of contemporary historians; expertly made stone engravings; word pictogram; the stone towers that were built without mortar; and the legend of the heather drink they invented and prepared wonderfully.

Chronicles of the existence of a mysterious people

On the territory of Scotland, according to the assumptions of historians, the Picts appeared in the Iron Age, having arrived there from the Scandinavian territories. However, there are versions that they could also be the descendants of the ancient Scythians.

Picts tattoos

It is not known exactly what the Picts looked like. In some sources they are described as short brunettes, and in others - as stately, tall, fair-haired people.

What is known for certain is that they decorated their bodies with beautiful patterns - tattoos. Moreover, both men and women did it. This people did not have a single language. Eyewitnesses claimed that they spoke at least two languages. Scientists explain this fact by the fact that this people consisted of several tribes.

And yet, there is an assumption that the aristocrats of the Picts were descended from the Celts, and ordinary people were descendants of a people related to the Basques.

The Picts lived in towers made of stones. The height of the towers could reach fifteen and even eighteen meters (like modern five- or seven-story buildings). It is noteworthy that these towers, built completely without a fastening solution, from carefully fitted stones, withstood the onslaught of strong winds and did not fall.

Picts drawings

Apparently, this people did not have a written language. On the stone slabs left over from the Picts, skillfully executed images of geometric shapes, a crescent moon, and various animals have been preserved.

As the ancient chronicles testify, the Picts were engaged in cattle breeding, were skilled sailors, and were engaged in trade. They did not shy away from the Picts and piracy. But their main vocation is war. Both men and women were skilled, fearless warriors who terrified the inhabitants of the British Isles. It was extremely difficult to compete with them in the art of war.

The Romans, who conquered Britain, were forced to repeatedly send tens of thousands of their legionnaires to fight them. But the Picts suffered a crushing defeat only from the Vikings in the 9th century. It was the beginning of the assimilation of this people into others.

King Dal Riada (Scotland) Kenneth McAlpin

After the defeat, the Picts never recovered, especially since the king of Dal Riada (Scotland) Kenneth MacAlpin ruthlessly exterminated all the leaders of the Picts. He lured them to a feast, got them drunk, and then interrupted them. He was not even stopped by the fact that his mother was from the Picts.

A wonderful drink of the ancient people


The mysterious people had a national drink, which was prepared from the heather growing in those places everywhere. It was rumored that this drink fills the Picts with unprecedented strength, courage and health. The secret of making a miracle drink was passed down from generation to generation and was kept in strict secrecy from strangers.

In the translation of R. Stevenson's ballad, S. Marshak calls the drink heather honey. But it would be more correct to talk about heather beer (translated by K.I. Chukovsky), or, as it is now called, in Scottish ale.

Heather honey

The recipe for its preparation was lost, as historians suggest, during the conquest of Scotland by Britain. In those days, there were severe prohibitions on national traditions, and beer was prescribed to be prepared from hops and malt. Only in remote mountainous areas was the traditional heather drink still brewed. But, over time, the secrets of its preparation were lost there as well.

Rebirth of a mysterious drink

The triumphant return of Scottish heather ale took place just 30 years ago - in 1992. This happened thanks to Bruce Williams, the owner of a small brewery in Scotland. According to his story, in 1986, an unknown woman visited his brewery shop, who asked for help in reading an old recipe, which was written in Old Scottish. It turned out to be a heather ale recipe.

Heather Ale

The lady was not impressed by the translation, and she left, leaving the recipe with Bruce, who could not resist, and decided to make a drink according to an ancient recipe. It took six long years before, by trial and error, Williams perfected the drink and set it up on an industrial scale.

Bruce Williams found out that only heather tops are used to make the drink. Then the brewer took a long time to select the most suitable time to collect the raw materials. The harvested tops of the plants were first boiled to produce a wort, to which, at the end of boiling, freshly picked heather flowers were added. The wort fermented for two weeks, acquiring a delicious amber color, as well as a unique soft taste. Nowadays, heather ale is an extremely popular and favorite drink in both Scotland and the UK.

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