September 2013

In this Issue:

 The Battle of Flodden  Coming Events
 Th Picts of Scotland  September Celebrations
 Who Am I?  Society Officers
 What's in a Names  

The Battle of Flodden - Flowers of the Forest

You will often see notices of the death of a Scot listed under "The Flowers of the Forest".  This phrase is taken from a balled and pipe tune that was written to commemorate the losses suffered by the Scottish troops at the Battle of Flodden some three hundred years prior. 

In September 1513, the largest battle (in number of troops) between England and Scotland took place.  The battle took place in Northumberland, just outside the village of Braxton hence the alternative name for the battle, the Battle of Branxton.  Prior to the battle, the Scots were based at Flodden Edge, which is how the battle became known as the Battle of Flodden.

The Battle of Flodden was essentially a retaliation for King Henry VIII's invasion of France in May 1513.  The invasion provoked the French King, Louis XII, to invoke the terms of the "Auld Alliance", a defensive alliance between France and Scotland to deter England from invading either country, with a treaty that stipulated that if either country was invaded by England, the other country would invade England in retaliation.  The French King sent arms, experienced captains and money to help with the counter attack of England.  After King Henry VIII rejected King James IV of Scotland's ultimatum to either withdraw from France or Scotland would invade England, an estimated 60,000 Scottish troops crossed the River Tweed into England. 

The outcome of The Battle of Flodden was mainly due to the choice of weapons used.  It was a victory of the "bill" over the "pike."  The Scots, using the pike, advanced in the continental style of that time in massed pike formations.  The Pike was a long spear, keen and sharp, effective only in a battle movement, especially to withstand a cavalry charge.  The English chose the "bill" as their weapon.  The bill, derived from the agricultural "billhook", consisted of a hooked chopping blade mounted on a staff.

The English Army led by the Earl of Surrey lost around 1,500 men in the battle but had no real lasting effect on English history.  The repercussions of the Battle of Flooden were much greater for the Scots.  Most of the accounts vary as to the numbers killed, but it is thought to be between 10,000 and 17,000 which included a large portion of the nobility of the time and more tragically its king, King James IV.

The Scottish still remember the Battle of Flodden today with the words from "The Flowers of the Forest":

        Dool and wae for the order sent oor lads tae the Border!
           The English for once, by guile won the day,
       The Flooers o' the Forest, that fought aye the foremost,
          The pride o' oor land lie cauld in the clay.

     I've heard the lilting, at the yowe-milking,
         Lassies a-lilting before dawn o' day;
    But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
       The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.

The Picts of Scotland

The Picts were Celtic peoples who inhabited the neat and northeast of Scotland.  Very little is know about them.  There is no firm explanation either of their origins before the third century A.D. or of their disappearance in the mid-ninth century.  Their history is a mystery story with few clues and no satisfactory ending.  Ancestors of the Picts probably migrated from north Germany along trade routes that had been developed early in the first millennium B.C.

Later, in the second century A.D., the geographer Claudius Ptolomaeus (Ptolemy) recorded the names of 12 Celtic tribes living north of the Forth and Clyde rivers.  Over time these 12 tribes formed a confederacy as a means of combating the superior military might of the Romans.  By the early third century further amalgamation of the tribes created two larger, stronger groupings, the Caledonii and the Maetae.  In 297 A.D. the Romans were referring to both as "Picti," the "painted ones."

Our most important source of information about the Picts come from their carved symbol stones.  Though their purpose is unknown, it's thought that the symbols conveyed messages.  Today the Picts' symbol stones are grouped by class; I, II and III.  Class I stones are rough boulders or slabs with various symbols carved on them .  With the introduction of Christianity around 565 A.D. by Columba, the Irish abbot of Iona, artwork on the symbol stones gradually changed. This new influence can be seen in Class II stones.  These are slabs on which the most important features are crosses, although biblical and hunting scenes are also common. 

About 900 A.D., the Class II slabs were being replaced by a third class of stone, which frequently marks the site of an early monastery or church.  Crosses were now being cut on one or sometimes both sides of a stone.  The stones were inset with biblical and evangelical figures but no symbols.  Class III slabs were purely Christian in design and indicate the disappearance of the last of the Pictish influences on art. 

In the course of the ninth century, Pictland was gradually taken over by Gaelic-speaking settlers, the Scottii from Dalriada (Arygll).  Kenneth mac Alpin is generally acknowledged as the first Scottii king to create a Scottish dynasty.  He united tribes of the west and east and became King of Scots sometime between 839 and 844.  History is a bit hazy about how this happened, but there are suggestions of some sort of coup or purge of Pictish nobility that was accomplished in a single act of treachery.  Another suggestion is that mac Alpin rewarded Scottish warlords with the gift of Pictish estates.  Whatever took place, the influence of the Picts gradually waned in the face of other, more powerful forces.

Over the course of what must have been at least 500 years, the Picts were able to cope with differing influences, accept change, integrate newcomers, exploit when it was possible and make their mark on the land that became Scotland. 

Who Am I ?

I was born around 1270 possibly in Aryshire—the exact date and place are unknown.  In 1297 I killed the Sheriff of Lanark and thus began my campaign against the English to secure freedom for Scotland.  I led a battle against the English Arm at the Battle of Stirling Bridge and won a magnificent victory.  I was then appointed the Guardian of Scotland.  In 1305 I was betrayed and captured, sent to London where I was executed.  Who am I?

(Answer at the end of the Newletter)

What's in a Name
By Ron Dempsey, FSA Scot


This surname in Gaelic means "stranger" or "foreigner" or someone new to the Gaelic community.  It could be from the next Glen, or of a different ethnic group, such as the Vikings, or the Britons.

It is common in the county of Perth, which is just inside the highland line, a division of the highland and the lowlands.  Other spellings of the name include Gauld and Galt.


Now that you have the root word Gall in Gaelic,  you can see some other names where the root word in conjunction with other elements give us surnames with a similar theme.  Galbraith is the name for a clan that had its original lands in the border of the Highland line.

Galbraith, as you can see by the first element suggests a stranger and last is "braith" for a Briton.  Therefore, Galbraith translates as British stranger.  It also has been suggested that it may have originated "gill" instead of  gall, where "gill"  comes from son of lad of the Briton, but I feel the former has the stronger argument.  The Galbraiths were related to a powerful family, the Earls of Lennox in that same region.


In Ireland we have the surname Gallagher, which similarly is for foreign soldiers or warriors.  Also, although not a surname, this explains the origin of Gallow-glasses, a Gaelic term for foreign mercenaries.  In the Irish examples the majority of people who earned the name and/or label, were mostly from Scotland with some Viking influences.

Coming Events

September 5 Estes Park CO Games
September 12 Membership Meeting - Scottish Culinary Night
October 10 Membership meeting - Scotstoberfest
October 11 Ventura CA Games
November 1 Tuscon AZ Games
November 2 Auston TX Games
November 14 Membership Meeting - St. andrew's Celebration
December 12 Membership meeting - Family Christmas Party

SOCIETY MEETING Regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. Beginning at 7 pm. Come join us or log on to

September Celebrations
If you would like your special date recognized in our monthly newsletter, we need to hear from you. Please let us know your correct birthday and anniversary information by email to and it will be included in our Celebration list.

September 11 Alan Ramsdell - Birthday - Life Member
September 13 Jerry Minnis - Birthday
September 14 Robert LaVar - Birthday
September 15 Monte Patterson - Birthday
September 16 Marilyn Veich - Birthday
September 21 Michelle Campbell -Birthday
September 26 Harold Stewart - Birthday - Life Member
September 30 Ginni Caldwell - Birthday

Who Am I ?

William Wallace

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
1st Vice President, & Membership Chair Don Finch
Secretary: Thom Von Hapsburg
Treasurer: David McBee
Games Chair
Jason Temple
Trustee 1: Mark Pelletier

Newsletter Editor:

Jo Ramsdell