Some thoughts on Pictish symbols as a formal writing system
By Katherine Forsyth
The Worm, the Germ and the Thorn: Pictish and Related Studies Presented to Isabel Henderson, edited by I. Henderson and D. Henry (Angus: Pinkfoot Press, 1995)
Introduction: In recent years the cool breeze of Revisionism has been blowing through Pictish studies. Professional Pictologists, such as Isabel Henderson, Anna Ritchie, Alfred Smyth, Leslie Alcock and his pupils, have been at pains to downplay the exoticness of the Pacts and to stress instead their common heritage with other barbarian peoples of northwest Europe. While they certainly haven’t ignored the symbols, it would be fair to say that the Revisionists have not dwelt upon them. Their aims are laudable, and their general approach surely correct, but, as our honorand reminds me, it is impossible to get to grips with the Picts without addressing the question of symbols. They are the unique to the Picts, and without some sense of their significance our understanding of the Picts will never be more than partial.