The Origins of Scotland: An Alternative Historical Outlook of the Origins of Freemasonry Part Three of Three
Submitted by Illustrious Companion Kevin A. Wheeler, District Inspector 4th District, Grand Council of Illinois
IC Kevin A. Wheeler
Before discussing what connotations, as to the origins of Freemasonry let us first examine the story of Gaythelos and Scota. To begin how or why did Gaythelos, a Greek prince end up in Egypt in the first place.
The Story of Scota begins with a Greek prince named Gaythelos, who is called “Goídel Glas” by Bower. As happens quite often in history, the royal prince was not given any position of power by his father. Gaythelos, being angry about this, caused much destruction and trouble in his father’s kingdom, even going so far as gathering his own army. His father forced Gaythelos into exile. Gaythelos sailed across the Mediterranean to Egypt where the Pharaoh Chencres was in a struggle to drive the Ethiopians out of his lands. The Ethiopians had a powerful kingdom to the south and at various times had ruled parts of Egypt. Gaythelos joined his army with that of the Pharaoh during the fight, and together they pushed the Ethiopians out of Egypt. At the end of these hostilities, Gaythelos formed another alliance with Chencres to help keep the Children of Israel in bondage. In recognition of Gaythelos’ loyalty, bravery, and strength, Chencres gave Gaythelos his daughter Scota in marriage. The Scotichronicon goes on to tell us that Chencres was the pharaoh who died when the Red Sea parted as he was chasing the Children of Israel. The people of Egypt were looking for reform and saw the death of the pharaoh as their opportunity to make changes. Gaythelos was viewed as a continuation of the status quo, and after a period of civil unrest, Gaythelos was again driven into exile. The army and people that went into exile with Gaythelos proclaimed him their king and called themselves “Scots” after their queen; however, there was no kingdom to rule. They wandered the desert for years before Gaythelos took his family and his tribe of Scots and sailed from the African continent to the Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal). There, they settled in the northwest corner of the peninsula at a place called Brigancia. The Romans later called this city “Brigantium,” and it is now the city of A Coruña, located in the autonomous province of Galicia, Spain. Scota gave birth to a son named Hyber; it is said the old name for Ireland, “Hibernia,” comes from this son.
The descendants of the Scots tribe lived on the Iberian Peninsula for several generations in a state of perpetual war with the local Iberian tribes. Eventually, some members of the tribe sailed across the Cantabrian Sea — the Bay of Biscay — in search of a new place to live and settled in Ireland. Some of these settlers established a home in Scotland in the area that comprises contemporary Argyll. After the time of the Romans, the people in this area were called the “Scotti” and ultimately the name of the country to the north of Britain became “Scotland.” There is another version of the legend in the Irish record called the “Leabhar Gabhála” or the “Book of Invasions.” This chronicle was written by monks in Ireland in the late 11th century CE to rationalize the existence of Gaels in Ireland. In this version of the legend, the ultimate ancestor of the Gaels was a Scythian king named Fennius Farsa. Scythia was located north of the Black Sea in what is now the eastern Ukraine. For unknown reasons, Farsa lost his throne and escaped to Egypt. His son, Nial, married the daughter of the pharaoh and had a son named Goidel. This family refused to participate in the persecution of the Children of Israel and was banished from Egypt, wandering throughout northern Africa. Eventually they sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar and settled in Iberia. Among the descendants of Farsa was a man named Mil — also known as Milesius and “Míle Easpain” or “the Soldier of Spain.” Mil’s nephew had been killed in Ireland by the Tuatha Dé Danaan, the previous occupiers of the island, and Mils departed Spain on an expedition to avenge this death, bringing his wife Scota with him. Tragically, both Mil and Scota were killed in the fighting leaving their three sons — Eber, Eremon and Amairgen — to complete the conquest of Ireland. The Gaels considered Scota to be their ancestral mother and called themselves the “Scots” for this reason.
Considering the above legends, I tend to side with the Irish version of that of Gayatheos being banished for failing to persecute the Israelites. With all the information presented what can this possibly mean for the origins of Freemasonry? Well in my opinion, we have stumbled onto the humble origins or Freemasonry or at least come one step closer. We currently know, Killwinning Abby also known as Mother Lodge Killwinning No. 0 to be the oldest lodge in the world containing records that go as far back as the year 1140. Speculation informs us that although this may be the first written evidence of Masonry, we know that it goes further back. Historical and other Masonic evidence suggests the origins of the organization of the Craft to around 926 following a decree by King Athelstan. Additionally, and this part is pure speculation but there are certain proofs or evidence suggesting the knowledge of Masonry in Roman times, an example of this can be found with Vitruvius.
However, with this new information, and especially if proven to be factual, I think we can safely make the assumption that Freemasonry although its origins are yet unknown, originated as we know it or rather can trace it, from the Israelites who initiated Scotia and her people for not persecuting the Israelites of Egypt, in turn when she and her husband fled to the Iberian Peninsula brought it to Spain and perhaps Portugal, to Ireland, and eventually Scotland where they settled and created the modern day Operative Masonry at the time.
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