Scota or Scotia is a mythological figure whose name is said to be the origin of the name for Scotland. In one legend she was the daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh and an ancestor of the Gaels – a Celtic tribe that survived at the fringes of the Roman Empire, across Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.
She is first mentioned in the 12th Century in the Irish Book of Invasions, the Lebor Gabála Érenn. She was said to be the mother of Goidel Glas who named the Gaels. In other accounts she was his wife, rather than his mother and they founded the Scots and Gaels after they were exiled from Egypt.
Another legend about Scotia links her to the Milesians and their battles with the Tuatha Dé Danann (people of the goddess Danu). She was said to be the wife of a descendant of Goidel who came from ancient Iberia (Spain or Portugal). As a Milesian queen she died in battle after falling from her horse in a glen near present day Tralee called Gleann Scoithín. She is said to be buried there and a rock formation in the glen is called Scotia’s Grave.
SCOTIA - Egyptian or Iberian?
So historical records differ and indeed accounts of Scotia are seen as legend or mythology rather than historical fact. Stories about her helped put the Gaels into a historical line of events, and links them to the legendary Egyptian royal lines. However no account of her or her son can be found in Egyptian writings.
Linking her to the Milesians (Iberians) puts her present at the time they defeated the Pagan Gods of Ireland, the Tuatha Dé Danann, and banished them to the Otherworld to live on as ‘The Little People’ or faeries. The Milesian Poet Amergin, who landed near here in Waterville (see his story on the trail too) was important in both the final defeat and the decision to send the Tuatha Dé Danann underground. The Milesians then became the Irish People, the Gaels – the Celts.