Attested: Many late Roman writers used Scoti or Scotti to refer to troublesome raiders who impinged on north and west Roman Britain. See here for some references. One of the earliest mentions was in the Verona List of AD 314, when Scoti, Picti, and Calidoni were among the barbarae quae pullulaverunt sub imperatoribus.
Where: By the time of Isidore of Seville and the Ravenna Cosmography (AD 600-700), Scotia was treated as a name for Ireland and Scoti was a name for Gaelic speakers. The notion that Gaels invaded en masse from Ireland and were not significantly living in western Scotland before AD 400 is probably a late rationalisation as, for example, Price explained. Later the name Scotland transferred to the speakers of northern (Anglian) English.
Name origin: Not easy to explain in Celtic or Latin. See here for some of the many theories that have been proposed. Possibly the best explanation is that Scoti originally meant something like ‘robbers’, akin to early Germanic words for ‘harm’ that led to English scathe, German Schaden, etc, and only later became an ethnic term. Σκοτιοι ‘of the dark’ was one name for black hunters, the Greek version of the war-bands of adolescent raiders that existed in many wild Indo-European societies. Compare how Goidel, from Welsh Gwyddel ‘Irishman’ fundamentally meant ‘wild’.
Notes: Wulfila's Gothic Bible, from not long after the first mention of Scoti, illustrates these Germanic parallels in these passages:
2nd Corinthians 12,13 fragibiž mis žata skažis ‘forgive me this wrong’.
Luke 10,19 jah waihte ainohun izwis ni gaskažjiž ‘and nothing shall by any means hurt you’
1st Timothy 6,9 lustuns managans unnutjans jah skažulans ‘many foolish and hurtful lusts’
Colossians 3,25 sa auk skažaila andnimiž žatei skož ‘but he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done’
Last Edited: 31 March 2017