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Pictland occupied the coastal area of western Hyboria and bordered Vanaheim, Aquilonia, and Zingara. Its terrain included coastal beaches and vast forests as far inland as the Thunder River.[1]



The Picts of the Hyborian Age were descendants of the Pre-Cataclysmic Pictish Isles. The Isles sank beneath the waves during the Great Cataclysm, but a large colony that set in the southern mountains of Valusia, on Thuria, survived.[4]

The islet of Zahrahn ended up in the ravines of the northern part of the Pictish Wilderness.[8]

By the end of the Lesser Cataclysm (circa 17,500 BC), the Pictish Wilderness seemingly existed in its definitive form.[9][10]

Hyborian Age of Conan

The caravan of a Brythunian nobleman named Zacharus was attacked when it ventured too close to a Pictish village. Zacharus was then kidnapped and bound to be sacrificed to their gods of the harvest, but he was eventually rescued by Conan and Tetra, one of his many daughters.[11]

Conan, Tetra, and her father Zacharus sought the second half of a treasure map held by a white man, Keiv, deep in Pict lands. The map was eventually found carved onto the chest of Delmurio, captain of a Zingaran army. Pict shaman Kawagne plotted with a demon named Nostume against Conan. Keiv was betrayed by Nostume, turned into a hairy beast form and sent to track down the Cimmerian and his allies.[12]



The Picts are not politically unified. They are divided into tribes and clans, typically named after animal totems. Tribes have names such as the Wolf clan, Hawk clan, and the Raven clan. Warfare among clans is common place. The coastal tribes have mastered fishing, but not seafaring. There are no man-made ports in their areas. Each tribe elects its own chieftain, though many are mere figureheads. The shaman of the tribe, healer and/or sorcerer, often serves as the powe behind the throne.


The forests are full of wild life, including bears, elk, panthers, pythons, sabertooths, wolves, and an unusual type of "dragons" (stegosaurs). Most Pictish tribes practice hunting, a work they reserve for their men. Pictish hunters are skilled witn bows and arrows, knives, and hatchets. Other weapons are relatively uncommon.[1][verification needed]


The Picts typically try to kill all their opponents and claim their heads as trophies. This "take no prisoners" policy has its exception in captives singled out for torture or for human sacrifice.[1][verification needed]


Their deities include Jhebbal Sag, Gullah the gorilla-god, the Children of Jhil, and an assorted number of Pre-Cataclysmic spirits and demons associated with the natural environment.[1][verification needed]


A few tribes had adopted the "civilized" practice of trade. They typically offer animal hides and walrus tasks to Aquilonian and Zingaran traders, in exchange for weaponry and alcoholic drinks. At the time of Conan, Aquilonia has started to invade and colonize border areas of the Picts, setting the new area called Westermarck in the Bossonian Marches as its western frontier. The Picts have attempted to reclaim the areas and drive the settlers out of Conajohara, resulting in an unstable border and brutal warfare.[1][verification needed]

Points of Interest


  • Robert E. Howard named the Picts after a historic British culture of the same name, active from Roman times to the early 10th century.
  • What the historical Picts called themselves is unknown. The name was given to them by the Romans, and literally means "painted people". Which most likely means that they used body painting and tattoos, which the Romans found to be a striking feature.
  • The historical Picts were probably a Celtic-speaking culture, though they left no written records. By the 9th-century they were politically unified with the Gaels of Dál Riata and ended up merging with them into a new people: the Scots. The kingdom the union established is Scotland.
  • Howard was fascinated with the Picts and incorporated them into the tales of Conan and Kull, as well as making them protagonists in his stories of Bran Mak Morn. His depictions of them were influenced by both the "Noble Savage" archetype and his views on "primeval savages".
  • The Hyborian Picts are typically presented as far more brutal than their Pre-Cataclysmic ancestors. Howard based the "western frontier" conflict between the Picts and the Aquilonians, on the American Indian Wars. His depiction of brutal Picts is in part based on depictions of brutal "savage Indians" in American accounts of the wars and Western fiction.
  • The Hyborian kingdoms typically have features of various ancient and medieval cultures, and the technology to match them. Insted, the Hyborian Picts are depicted as a Stone Age culture.

See Also

Links and References


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Handbook of the Conan Universe #1; Pictland's entry
  2. 2.0 2.1 Savage Sword of Conan #38; A Gazetteer of the Hyborian World Part VI, Pictland's entry
  3. 3.0 3.1 Savage Sword of Conan #38; A Gazetteer of the Hyborian World Part VI, Pictish Wilderness' entry
  4. 4.0 4.1 Savage Sword of Conan #38; A Gazetteer of the Hyborian World Part VI, Picts' entry
  5. Savage Sword of Conan #62; The Temple of the Tiger
  6. Conan the Barbarian #119
  7. Giant-Size Conan #1; Conan the Conqueror - The Hour of the Dragon - Chapter One
  8. Savage Sword of Conan #64; The Children of Rhan
  9. Savage Sword of Conan #8; The Hyborian Age - Chapter 2: The Rise of the Hyborians
  10. Savage Sword of Conan #12; The Hyborian Age - Chapter 3: The Hyborian Kingdoms
  11. Conan the Barbarian #172
  12. Conan the Barbarian #273
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