The Maeatae were a confederation of tribes who lived probably beyond the Antonine Wall in Roman Britain.

The historical sources are vague as to the exact region they inhabited, though an association is thought to be indicated in the names of two hills with fortifications.[1] Near the summit of Dumyat hill in the Ochils, overlooking Stirling, there are remains of a fort[2] and the name of the hill (in Gaelic Dùn Mhèad) is believed to derive from name meaning the hill of the Maeatae.[3] This prominent hill fort may have marked their northern boundary, while Myot Hill[4] near Fankerton plausibly marks their southern limits. A discussion of two views of the importance of Dumyat and Myot Hill is given in Wainwright.[5]

As for the tribes themselves Dio[6] also quoted by Joseph Ritson and others describes them in detail although some of the descriptions look suspicious to the modern eye.[7] John Rhys seems convinced that they occupied the land between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Tay or parts of what is now Clackmannanshire, Fife and Stirlingshire.[8] He also suggests that the Isle of May might derive its name from the tribe. Dio mentions the Maeatae were between the wall and the Caledonians but there is some dispute over whether he is referring to Antonine's Wall[9] or Hadrian's Wall.[10] Alexander del Mar says no-one really knows the identity of the Maeatae but he mentions that some authorities think they may have had a Norse origin.[11]

They appear to have come together as a result of treaties struck between the Roman Empire and the various frontier tribes in the 180s AD under the governorship of Ulpius Marcellus. Virius Lupus is recorded as being obliged to buy peace from the Maeatae at the end of the second century.[12]

In 210 AD they began a serious revolt against the Roman Empire which was reportedly a very bloody affair on both sides.[13] Another revolt took place the following year.[14] In 213 AD, Joseph Ritson records them receiving money from the Romans to keep the peace.[15]

The Miathi, mentioned in Adomnán's Life of Columba, probably to be identified with the Southern Picts, have been posited as the same group, their identity seemingly surviving in some form as late as the 6th or 7th centuries AD.[16]


  1. Evans, Nicholas (March 2009). "Royal succession and kingship among the Picts". The Innes Review. Edinburgh University Press (subscription required). 59 (1): 1–48. doi:10.3366/E0020157X08000140.
  2. "Myot Hill". National Record of the Historical Environment. Canmore. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  3. Mann, J C (1974). "THE NORTHERN FRONTIER AFTER A.D. 369". Glasgow Archaeological Journal (subscription required). 3: 40. JSTOR 27923546.
  4. "OS Six Inch 1888-1913". National Library of Scotland - Map. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  5. Wainwright, F. T. (1962). Archaeology And Place Names And History. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 72–74. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  6. Dio, Cassius; Cary, Earnest; Foster, Herbert Baldwin (1955). Dio's Roman history. London: W. Heinemann. pp. 63–73. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  7. Ritson, Joseph (1828). Annals of the Caledonians, Picts, and Scots; and of Strathclyde, Cumberland, Galloway, and Murray. Edinburgh: Printed for W. and D. Laing. pp. 11–13. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  8. Rhys, John (1908). Celtic Britain (4th ed.). New York: E. S. Gorham. pp. 305–307. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  9. Archaeologia aeliana, or, Miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity (Vol 18 ed.). Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 1896. pp. 89–90. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  10. Rohl, Darrell, Jesse. "More than a Roman Monument: A Place-centred Approach to the Long-term History and Archaeology of the Antonine Wall" (PDF). Durham Theses. Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online ref: 9458. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  11. Del Mar, Alexander (1900). Ancient Britain in the light of modern archæological discoveries. New York: The Cambridge encyclopedia co. p. 41. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  12. Elliott, Simon; Hughes, Tristan (18 March 2018). "The Scottish Campaigns of Septimius Severus". Turning Points Of The Ancient World. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  13. Keys, David (27 June 2018). "Ancient Roman 'hand of god' discovered near Hadrian's Wall sheds light on biggest combat operation ever in UK". Independent. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  14. Birley, Robin (October 1963). "The Roman Legionary Fortress at Carpow, Perthshire". Scottish Historical Review (subscription required). 42 (134): 131. JSTOR 25528524.
  15. Ritson, Joseph (1828). Annals of the Caledonians, Picts, and Scots; and of Strathclyde, Cumberland, Galloway, and Murray. Edinburgh: Printed for W. and D. Laing. pp. 64–65. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  16. MacLean, Hector (1872–1906). "The Ancient Peoples of Ireland and Scotland Considered". Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (subscription required). 20: 164. JSTOR 2842234.
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