Oberon wrote:Some strange history here. Did 'English' as a distinct language even exist before Chaucer came along and the hundred years after him until Shakespearean era writers refined it?
Yes. Anglo-Saxon was distinct enough from the other Germanic languages to be a language in its own right, and not just a dialect. After the Norman Conquest, of course, it went through huge changes until stabilising around the middle of the 16th century. Even then, the standard accent of English continued to change enormously, and is still changing very rapidly.
Is it now established archeological fact that the Picts were 'Celtic' tribes?
I'm not sure, but I suspect not. The Picts are something of a mystery, archaeologically speaking. Little is known about them.