Scota, Egyptian Queen of the Scots


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The legends of Ireland and Scotland tell a fantastic tale of an Egyptian queen and her Greek husband, who were exiled from Egypt at some point during the second millennium BC.


Chased from their homelands, they took to the sea and settled in Spain and then Ireland. It is said that it was from this Queen Scota and King Gaythelos that the modern titles for the Scottish and Gaelic people were derived. All of these early Celtic myths were finally set down in a fourteenth century book called Scotichronicon, the title page of which appears on the cover of this book. But what are we to make of this ancient story - is it based more upon fact or fiction?


Historians have, as one might expect, taken the story to be complete fiction; but there are many elements to this hoary old tale that demonstrate that the authors of Scotichronicon knew a great deal about the ancient history and language of Egypt. Ralph Ellis has taken a lateral look at this mythology, and found many links and associations that lead to one inescapable conclusion - that the extraordinary tale of Queen Scota and King Gaythelos is probably true.


1.  Scota and Scotia are the names given to the mythological daughters of two different Egyptian pharaohs in Irish mythology, Scottish mythology and pseudohistory. Though legends vary, all agree that a Scota was the ancestor of the Gaels, who traced their ancestry to Irish invaders, called Scotti, who settled in Argyll and Caledonia, regions which later came to be known as Scotland after their founder.

Scotia's Grave allegedly lies in a valley south of Tralee Town, Co. Kerry, Ireland. The area is known as Glenn Scoithin, "Vale of the Little Flower", but is more popularly referred to as Foley's Glen. A trail from the road leads along a stream to a clearing where a circle of large stones marks the grave site, as indicated by a County Council signpost.


2.  An early biographer of the Douglas family, writing in the middle of the eighteenth century, traces their pedigree as far back as the days of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, the father of that monarch who pursued Moses with such malignant fidelity. According to this historian, a certain Gathaleus was the general of Pharaoh’s troops, who, with the assistance of his lieutenant Sayas, succeeded in defeating the ever-hostile forces of the Ethiopians. As a reward for this victory he was given the hand of Pharaoh’s daughter Scota (King Tutankhamun’s half-sister).


Gathaleus and his bride journeyed to Portugal, where they were joined by the faithful Sayas, and the descendants of these two families eventually came to Scotland and founded the house of Douglas. [The History and Martial Achievements of the Houses of Douglas, Angus, and Queensberry, p. v. (Edinburgh, 1769.)]



There are different versions of this story - well, it was a long time ago - but here I offer the possibility that the Douglas Scotti families of Italy, who claim an origin that traces their history to Scotland, have Scota, Pharoah's Daughter - Queen of Scots, as their ancestor.  Scota married Niul, son of Fenius Farsaid, a Babylonian. They had a son, Goídel Glas, who gave his name to the race he founded, the Gaels.  And, of course, to the Dhu Glas clan. Maybe.





Sources for this article include:
  • Myth and Identity in Early Medieval Scotland, EJ Cowan, Scottish Historical Review lxiii, No. 176 (Oct. 1984)
  • "Lebor Gabála Érenn"
  • W. Matthews, "The Egyptians in Scotland: the Political History of a Myth"

  • Any contributions will be gratefully accepted



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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024