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Sacred Connections Scotland

Scotland’s past links with ancient Egypt
Barry Dunford

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid at Giza

Schiehallion in central Scotland

According to the ancient Scots Chronicles the origin of the Scottish people, at least in part, derives from the Pharaonic lineage of an Egyptian princess named Scota, who may have lived around 1400 B. C. The old Irish Annals support this same tradition saying that Scota came to Ireland, via Spain, from Egypt. Even today the placename Glen Scota traditionally records her presence in Ireland. Subsequently descendants of Scota apparently migrated to Scotland around 300 B. C. from whence came the Scots royal lineage.

The feasibility of Egyptian travel to the British Isles in ancient times is borne out by modern archaeological findings. This occurred in 1937 when two Egyptian sailing ships, dated to around 1400 B. C., were discovered in a Yorkshire estuary, on the north east coast of England. Moreover, Egyptian faience beads dating from the same period have been found in Scotland and other parts of the British Isles.

Furthermore, the Rev. John Stirton in his essay The Celtic Church and the Influence of the East (1923) observes: “The earliest type of monumental cross in Scotland is an Egyptian or Coptic wheel cross. It appears on several stones at Kirkmadrine in Wigtonshire, along with the Alpha and Omega.. The Crux Ansata, the emblem of life in Egyptian hieroglyphics, is found on a stone at Nigg in Ross-shire, and on another at Ardboe, in Ireland. There are many symbols on the Celtic stones of Scotland which are still unexplained.. The Crescent, the Serpent, and the Elephant must all be Eastern in origin, and these are commonly met with on the Celtic symbol-bearing stones.”

A possible ancient Egypto-Celtic connection is also indicated in Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought (1878) by James Bonwick, F. R. G. S., who states: “It is singular to find a white race spoken of in the ancient monuments. Dr. Brugsch, the learned German, notices the word Tam-hou or white men. As it occurs on tablets dating 2,500 years before Christ, it is puzzling to indicate the people. Brugsch traces them to Libya. Champollion recognized in the Tamh’ou a type of European ancestry. M. Deveria remarks upon hieroglyphics recording the fact of Horus, the god, leading and guiding a white race. As there are still many Celtic monuments in the north of Africa, over many hundreds of miles, he contends for the existence of an original Celtic people in Egypt, or, in modern language, that the Welsh and Irish were once in Egypt.”

The old Scots Chronicles also record that during the 2nd century B. C. certain “Egyptian philosophers” (probably from the Egyptian mystery temples) came to Scotland to advise the Scots King of the period. They were able to divine for him where certain metal ores were located in the land by studying the movement of the stars. It seems likely that these Egyptian philosophers would have associated with the Druid magi, some of whom were in attendance as advisors to the ancient Scottish Royal families.

Moreover, these ancient Chronicles further relate that Egyptian philosopher priests were apparently teaching the Christic doctrine of a universal deity in ancient Caledonia (c. 180 B. C.), i. e. almost two centuries before the legendary Apostolic mission in the British Isles.

During the early centuries A. D. the Celtic monks in the British Isles, much of whose tenets were rooted in a pre-Christian Druid tradition, saw Egypt as the true holy land rather than Palestine due to the ascetic Desert Father tradition established there which they sought to follow and emulate. Hence we find in Scotland, and Ireland, a number of dysarts (desert) placenames which record monastic settlements and retreats founded on the Egyptian anchorite model.

So ancient historical links between Scotland and Egypt seem fairly likely and provide an interesting sidelight to our knowledge of the ancient past.