Ossetia’s Connection to Scotland


Do the Scottish People have Links to Ossetia?

From time to time you have one of those moments. I was traveling to Hastings in Kent, listening to BBC Radio 4. My ears could not believe what they were hearing. “From Our Own Correspondent,” is a weekly compilation of vignettes by BBC reporters from all over the world. This particular report, “Ossetia’s Connection to Scotland,” was from Tim Whewell, who covered the August 2008 skirmish between the Georgians and South Ossetians in Asia’s Caucasus region.

The report began, “When the nights draw in, in the high Caucasus… there is nothing the people like better than to settle down on the settee to watch an old DVD of Braveheart.” Why? The Ossetians told Whewell their stories of migrations from their home. He continued, “Centuries ago, possibly during the great migration of the Dark Ages, some of their ancestors went down from the Caucasus and set sail through the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and arrived eventually in a landscape they recognised: Caledonia.”


Where do the Scots Come From?

He continued, “But the Ossetians are not just like the medieval Scots. As far as they are concerned, they are the Scots. And the Scots are them.”

Whewell’s information from his hardy Caucasian friends is not as far-fetched as some might like us to think. Much of what we learn about the origins of the people of Europe is skewed toward a Greco-Roman bias. What does that mean?

Students of European history—especially those who try to understand where the Friesians or Germans or Lombards came from—are often directed exclusively to Greek and Roman historians. Caesar’s Bella Gallica, with its observations of the Celts, is informative—but it is biased toward a Roman perspective. And we note that Strabo, the Greek geographer, held a rather jaundiced view of Britons. He wrote that they were “tall and bandy-legged.”

Who, then, can tell us who the Scots were? Well, how about the Scots themselves?

Soon after England’s King Edward II subjugated the Scots, 38 of the Scottish lairds wrote the “Declaration of Arbroath”—an impassioned plea to the Pope, asking him to call the English off. This document, dating to 1320 A.D., is preserved in a hermetically sealed case at the Scottish Archives in Edinburgh. In the Declaration’s preamble, we find the noble Scots in possession of their historic roots, which they proclaim boldly and confidently. Note their clear wording as to their origins:

“Declaration of Arbroath”

“We know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients, we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian [Mediterranean] Sea and the Pillars of Hercules [Straits of Gibraltar], and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes… Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today (Scotland).

How do we know they reached Scotland?  Easy: place names.  London, In Ossetian, London means “standing water”.  Belfast, in Ossetian, means “broken spade”.  (King) Arthur in Ossetian means “solar fire”.  Orleans in France is “stopping place”, because the Ossetians stopped there.

Ossetian children know all about their forefathers’ wanderings around Europe and how eventually their territory diminished again to those two little pockets on either side of the great Caucasian watershed.

But the Ossetians, in their glory days of continental mastery, were not known by that name. They were previously called Sarmatians, and sometimes Alans.  Every third Ossetian you meet now seems to be called Alan, and the north Ossetian republic, within Russia, is officially “Alania”.

It is widely understood that the ancient Israelites crossed the Red Sea in the fifteenth century B.C.—which would date the Scots’ migration from Greater Scythia to the third century B.C.! This equates well with other information that we can find, showing that there were successive migrations of people from the region of Scythia, which today comprises southern Ukraine.


Land of the Scythians

Who were the Scythians? According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Most writers think the Scythians who troubled Asia were Sacae from the east of the Caspian” (11th edition, article: “Scythia”). This is the region where, in the eighth century bc, the Assyrians had settled the ten tribes of Israel whom they had taken captive (see 2 Kings 17:23). The Israelites were named after their father Jacob, whose name God had changed to Israel. Israel’s father was Isaac—from which the name Sacae is derived. That name in turn became “Saxon” (son of Isaac). These “Saxon” people have left their name in northern Germany (Saxony) and amongst the people of southeast England: Sussex, Essex and Middlesex.

scythian-migrationsSCYTHIAN MIGRATION

The name Scot is also derived from “Scyth. Scotic is related to the term Scythic and was pronounced the same in some areas of Britain.   It is an interesting observation that the German word for both Scottish and Scythianis “Scutten”, as the 6th century Saxon invaders of Alba spoke a form of lower German. ” The Scyth traveled to Scotland via Spain and Ireland. Prior to the Dalriadic migration of the Scots from Ireland to Scotland, the northern area of Ireland was known as “Scotia” (note the similarity to “Scythia”). These people simply carried their name with them into the highlands of Scotland.


Reconstructed Ossetian Bagpipes

What else has been carried through these nations? If you are familiar with the bagpipe, a characteristically Scottish musical instrument, you may be surprised to learn that bagpipes are found in every country mentioned in the Declaration of Arbroath and in BBC correspondent Whewell’s report. Bagpipes are played in a total of 25 nations in the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. To listen to Ossetian bagpipes click here. Notice this definition, from The New Bible Dictionary, of the word dulcimer used in Daniel 3:5, “It is now generally supposed to have been a form of bagpipe.” This most famous of Scottish instruments has left a musical footprint wherever the Scots have traveled on their journey, from Israel to Assyria and on through the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, to Spain, and finally to their present home by way of Ireland.

From the Circassian Nart Epos: “The Tale of T’ot’resh’s Two-Pronged Spear” [«ТIотIэрэш и бжыпэ дыкъуакъуэ»] Sung by Zubeir Yewaz (Еуаз Зубер) in the Kabardian dialect of Circassian.

Linguistically, only modern-day Ossetian and Pashto as well as Yaghnobi and Pamiri languages are similar to old Eastern Iranian languages once spoken by Scythians.” See more here.



21 thoughts on “Ossetia’s Connection to Scotland

  1. Being a Scot you had me at Scotland BUT I was very taken up with this same thing recently having read this citylifedundee.com/2015/12/10/the-origins-of-the-picts/ which is not so fanciful given genetic results. What I loved best was the bit of the story I then heard that the people from Sythia landed in what is now Ireland and asked to settle. The Scots of Ireland, or the Gaels (Yes this is complicated, we believe here that UK history should have been written from the north down and not the other way about ) said ‘No. But over there is a land you can have. ‘ That land was Scotland. Anyway, apparently the Sythians who became the Picts said, Ok but we have no women, will you give us some?’ So the Gael/Scots said, ‘ Ok, but they must rule.’ And actually what the Romans and every other ‘conqueror’ could not get over in what is now Scotland, was the power of the women. Also the Picts only seemed to have that bit of Scotland which you would have if you came over from ‘Ireland’ way back.

  2. I’m aware of the ancient traditions of Scythian origin (as in the Irish Lebor Gabála or Book of Invasions) but there is a problem here with linguistics. There is absolutely no evidence of a linguistic connection between Ossetians and Scots (much as I would like there to be one). For example, Belfast is a very recent English distortion of the Irish Béal Feirste, which means the river mouth of the sandbank. And Orleans comes from Aurelianum, because it was founded by Aurelianus. As for bagpipes, they are common all over Europe and Asia but have tended to survive best in more isolated areas. So, interesting, but I’m not convinced!

  3. Sorry, I didn’t express that very well in my comment! (What’s new? Sigh …) It sounds from this that I think Belfast and Orleans are in Scotland. Of course, they aren’t. But the idea that the Ossetians passed through Europe leaving lots of Ossetian names only works if these places always had the same names, which of course they didn’t, and there is a long historical record of the development of names like Belfast (from Irish), London (from Celtic via Latin) and Orleans (from Latin).

  4. Yes, this kind of thing is always more interesting than the facts, which is part of the problem! Also, if the Ossetians were really Scots, do they have haggis, whisky, tartan and deep-fried confectionary as well? 🙂

    1. I’ve done an older post on this subject that is a bit different. You can read it here.


      Being of Scots-Irish origins myself I got great pleasure from finding this information. It’s a bit romantic and possibly not a 100% accurate, but sure make a great read.

      1. Part of being Scottish is that bit of romance and myth. We all know Braveheart wasn’t accurate but the sense it created was spot on.

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