Now, historically it was often considered likely that Dál Riata was founded in the immediate post-British period by an invasion of Irish Scoti, but it's actually been suggested recently that there is no archaeological evidence for either an invasion or even the installation of a foreign Gaelic aristocracy over a Brythonic or Pictish population either one; rather, they suggest that the Druim Alban, or "Spine of Scotland" was always a natural barrier that separated two distinct populations (archaeologically speaking) that emerged in historical times as Pictish on the east and Gaelic on the west without interruption, until they united into the Picto-Gaelic kingdom of Alba. This suggests that the western fringe of Scotland, what was known in parahistorical and early historical times as Dál Riata was actually Gaelic and united along with Ulaid (later Ulster) culturally and politically since some prehistoric time. However, this is a historical curiosity. Nobody ever doubted that the Scots and the Irish weren't once closely related culturally since they remained related linguistically (and culturally still too, for that matter) well into the historical period. In other words, early Dark Age Scots doesn't translate into early Dark Ages Irish in DARK•HERITAGE, although maybe the distinction is a bit esoteric and academic.
What are the various groups of British Dark Ages that I want to bring to my fictional NA continent and place on the eastern—oh, about half?
- The Britons: Specifically, this is the Brythonic Celtic population. Somewhat Romanized culturally, and their aristocracy speaks a vulgar Latin, but otherwise they are more comparable to the early Welsh or Cornish than anything else.
Kingdoms: Ystrad Clut, Elmet, Gododdin, Rheged, Aeron, Calchfynydd, Eidyn, Dun Manaan, Dewr, Bryneich, Gynedd, Powys, Pengwern, Gwent, Damnonia, Dumnonia, Kernow, Defnaint, Ceredigion, Dyfed, Ebrauc, Glywysing, Deheubarth, Morgannwg, Rhos.
- The Anglo-Saxons: Germanic peoples who are in conflict with Britons in particular. My DARK•HERITAGE Anglo-Saxons will be more specifically Northumbrian in character. If that matters. Given the geographic placement, my own actual Anglo-Saxon ancestors were most likely mostly Angles from Bernicia.
Kingdoms: Beornice, Derenrice, Dere, Engla, Cantaware, Hwicce, Wychwood, Suthseaxna, Eastseaxna, Middelseaxna, Westseaxna, Myrce, Norþhymbra, Ictin, Wihtwara, Lindesege, Magonsets, Meonwara, Pencersets, Pecsets (Peakrills), Tomsets, Wreocensets (Wrekinsets), Gyrwas, Suðenhymbra, Cilternsets, Duddensets, Bilsets, etc.)
- The Picts: Nobody knows for sure who the Picts were, although the prevailing notion is that they were a Celtic people speaking a language related to that of the Britons; possibly even a dialect of Brythonic, who gradually became more and more Gaelicized until the Pictish identity was forgotten and everyone in Alba became the Gaelic Scots. Former notions of the Picts retaining an old Ice Age pre-Celtic and non-Indo-European language are out of favor, but clearly the Picts seem to have maintained a separate identity and culture from their more southerly neighbors; even before the Romanization of the southern Britons.
Kingdoms: Ce, Cait, Mar, Buchan, Circinn, Fib, Fidach, Fotla, Atholl, Fortriu
- The Gaels: I already mentioned Dál Riata, so I won't belabor it more; but the Scottish people are what I'm going for. My own ancestry into this branch is with the Lowland Scots, who would have been part of the frontier region with Northumbrian Anglo-Saxons. People from both extractions were relocated during the partial Tudor conquest of Ireland to settle in what become Northern Ireland, and are often called (locally) the Ulster Scots and in America, the Scots Irish. Despite the name, the Scots Irish are not Irish at all, of course, they are settlers of Lowland Scottish and northern English descent living on the Irish island, mostly in the politically segregated province of Northern Ireland. Most of these today still identify as British, not Irish. Anyway, in addition to frontier northern English and Lowland Scottish ancestry, I have a fair amount of Scots Irish ancestry too—but realistically, all three of those terms are largely overlapping.
Kingdoms: Dál Riata, Demet, Brycheiniog, Morvern, Lochabar, Dunadd, Dún Sebuirge, Dun Ollaigh, Dun Albanach, Dál Fiatach, Strathcarann, Alclud, Dun Nechtain, Innse Gall, Magh Rath, Lough Neagh.
- The Vikings: Usually called in historical sources "the Danes"; Viking was a term that meant something similar to "pirates" or "raiders." Although, to be fair, the origin of the word Gael from a Briton source is identical—an odd coincidence. Vikings didn't merely raid the British Isles, however; they settled in relatively large numbers and founded relatively long-lasting kingdoms in Ireland (Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Limerick), in Scotland (in the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetlands, especially) and they conquered large sections of England in what became known as the Danelaw; an independent Viking kingdom that took up a good half of the territory known today as England. The Danes never came in enough numbers to displace the Anglo-Saxons, and they appear to have gradually been culturally and politically subsumed, but not for quite a while. Until the expulsion of Eric Bloodaxe in 954, Danelaw existed as a separate political entity from Anglo-Saxon England, and then Cnut and his son Harthacnut ruled England from Denmark from 1012 until 1042 in what has been named the "North Sea Empire." It appears that the court of Cnut gradually became more English and less Danish over time, as he trusted his Anglo-Saxon vassals more than his native ones. While native Anglo-Saxon kings ruled between 1042 and 1066, they maintained close ties with their colleagues in Scandinavia. In 1066 following the death of Edward the Confessor without a clear line of succession, Harold Godwinson became the Anglo-Saxon proclaimed king. He was himself the son of a Danish mother who was closely related to Cnut. Harold's brother Tostig attempted to claim the crown himself (sorta) by inviting Harald Hardrada, king of Norway and "the last Viking" to claim the throne, although both Tostig and Harald were defeated and killed after initial success up near York at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Of course, Harold didn't hold the crown for very long; after defeating Harald and Tostig, he rushed off to defeat another claimant to the throne, perhaps Edward's own favorite and his first cousin, William the Conqueror. William, of course, won the Battle of Hastings, Harold was killed, and the Norman conquest of England proceeded apace. William was, of course a direct descendant through about five generations of Rollo; himself a Viking settler who carved out the Duchy of Normandy from northern France the same way his Viking colleagues did with Danelaw in England, so although he now spoke a dialect of French, William was yet a Viking after all, really.
Kingdoms: Agder, Grenland, Hadeland, Hardanger, Hedmark, Hålogaland, Namdalen, Nordmøre, Oppland, Orkdal, Rogaland, Romsdal, Sogn, Solør, Sunnmøre, Telemark, Toten, Trøndelag, Vestfold, Vingulmark, Voss
The list of kingdoms is deliberate; to give me a big pool of names of actual petty kingdoms to choose from, all historical, to make my own petty kingdoms.
Here's my sketchy map; I'll probably redraw this with more detail and maybe zoomed in on the "European" nations, which are of course, the "protagonist" nations of DARK•HERITAGE. The other nations presented are less clearly derived from real life; they include: Kurushat (a kind of Red Men of Mars analog—sorta, although more foreign and less noble), Baal Hamazi (an analog to D&D's Bael Turath; the tiefling empire), the Untash, Haltash and Tazitta tribes (a combination of Plains Injuns, Huns, Mongols, etc. Note: I tend to type Injuns because I prefer and am used to the designation Indians for the "native Americans" to any other label, but it does occasionally merit confusion with the people of India. Injuns, however, is clearly an American dialectical variant of that word that only has the one meaning.) Lomar is drawn from Lovecraft's sword & sorcery (although rather heavily modified, I'm sure).
The Wendak are actually based on a historical population: The Five Civilized Tribes, and Terassa is going to be loosely based on Nueva España in most respects, including a syncretized Spanish/Aztec population on the mainland, and more "pure" Spanish population in the tropical islands off the coast—comparable to Mexico vs. the Spanish Caribbean.
And I still want to figure out where I can fit Tarush Noptii back in too.