[History of the Scottish Highlands Contents]
Early History – Scottish Settlement – Origin of Scots – Dalriada – Conversion of Picts – Druidism – St. Columba – Iona – Spread of Christianity – Brude and his Successors – Dun-Nechtan – Pictish Wars – Ungus – Contests – Norsemen – Union of Picts and Scots – Scoto-Irish or Dalriads – Lorn, Fergus, Angus and their Successors – Aidan – Contest at Degsastan – Donal Breac – Wars with Irish and Picts – Conal II. and Successors – Ferchar Fada – Selvach and Duncha Beg – Eocha III. unites Dalriada – Muredach – Contests with Picts – Aodh-fin – Eocha IV. or Achaius – Alpin – Kenneth – Union of Picts and Scots – Dalriadic Government – Tanist – Brehon – Laws – Fosterage – Lists of Kings.
AS we have already said, the materials for the internal history of the Highlands during the Roman occupation are of the scantiest, nearly all that can be recorded being the struggles of the northern tribes with the Roman invaders, and the incursions of the former and their allies into the territories of the Romanized Britons. Doubtless many events as worthy of record as these, an account of which has been preserved, were during this period being transacted in the northern part of Scotland, and we have seen that many additions, from various quarters, must have been made to the population. However, there are no records extant which enable us to form any distinct notion of the nature of these events, and history cannot be manufactured.
After the departure of the Romans, the provincial Britons of the south of Scotland were completely at the mercy of the Picts as well as the Saxons, who had been invited over by the South Britons to assist them against the northern barbarians. These Saxons, we know, very soon entered into alliance with those whom they came to repel, and between them the Britons south of the friths were eventually driven into the West, where for centuries they to have maintained an independent kingdom under the name of Strathclyde, until ultimately they were incorporated with the Scots.1
Although both the external and internal history of the Highlands during this period is much better known than in the case of the Roman period, still the materials are exceedingly scanty. Scottish historians, from Fordun and Boece downwards, made it their business to fill up from their own imaginations what is wanting, so that, until the simple-minded but acute Innes put it in its true light, the early history of Scotland was a mass of fable.
Undoubtedly the two most momentous events of this period are the firm settlement in Argyle of a colony of Scots from Ireland and some of the neighbouring isles in 503,2 and the conversion of the Northern Picts to Christianity by Columba about 563.
At the time of the Roman abandonment of Britain the Picts were under the sway of a king or chieftain named Drust, son of Erp, concerning whom the only record remaining is, that he lived a hundred years and fought a hundred battles. In fact, little is known with certainty of the Pictish history for upwards of one hundred years after the departure of the Romans, ancient chronicles afford us lists of Pictish kings or princes, a chronological table of whom, from Drust downwards, will be found at the end of this chapter. The Pictish chronicle contains the names of thirty-six others who are said to have reigned before Drust, but these are generally regarded as almost entirely spurious.
Before proceeding farther with the Pictish history, it may be proper to give a brief account of the settlement of the Irish Scots or Dalriads, as they are frequently called, in the Pictish territory.
The time of the settlement of the Scots in present Scotland was for long a subject of disputation, the early Scottish historians, from a false and unscrupulous patriotism, having pushed it back for many centuries before its actual occurrence. This dispute is now, however, fairly set at rest, there being no foundation for believing that the Scots found their way from Ireland to Scotland earlier than a century or two before the birth of Christ. As we have already seen, we find the first mention of the Scots in Ammianus Marcellinus about the year 360 A.D.; and their name occurs in the same connection frequently afterwards, during the Roman occupation of Scotland. Burton3 is of opinion that the migration did not take place at any particular time or under any particular leader, but that it was gradual, that the Scots “oozed” out of Ireland upon the western coast of Scotland.
It belongs to the history of Ireland to trace the origin and fix the race of the Scots, to settle the time of their coming into Ireland, and discover whence they came. Some suppose that they migrated originally from Britain to Ireland, while Innes and others bring them either from Scandinavia or Spain, and connect them with the Scyths, asserting that Scot is a mere corruption of Seyth, and dating the settlement at about the commencement of the Christian era. The Irish traditions connect them with a certain Scota, daughter of Pharaoh, and date their coming to Ireland upwards of 1,000 years B.C. E. W. Robertson4 and others consider them to have been Irish Picts or Cruithne.
Wherever the Scots came from and to whatever race they belong, whether Teutonic or Celtic, they certainly appear not to have been the first settlers in Ireland, and at the time at which they first appear in authentic history occupied a district in Ireland corresponding to Connaught, Leinster, and part of Munster. They were also one of the most powerful of the Irish tribes, seeing that for many centuries Ireland was, after them, called Scotia or Scotland. It is usually said that a particular corner in the north-east of Ireland, about 30 miles in extent, corresponding to the modern county of Antrim, was the kingdom of the particular band of Scots who migrated to Scotland; and that it received its name, Dal-Riada (‘the portion of Riada’), from Carbre-Riada, a leader of the Scots who conquered this particular part, previously inhabited by Cruithne or Irish Picts. Robertson,5 however, considers all this fable and the kingdom of Dalriada as mythical, Tighernach and the early Irish annalists never applying the name to any other locality than British Dalriada. At all events, this particular district was spoken of by the later chroniclers under the name of Dalriada, there being thus a Dalriada both in Scotland and Ireland.6 At the time of the migration of the Scots from Ireland to Scotland, they were to all intents and purposes a Celtic race, speaking Irish Gaelic, and had already been converted to Christianity.
The account of the Scottish migration usually given is, that in the year 503 A.D.,7 a new colony of Dalriads or Dalriadic Scots, under the leadership of Fergus son of Erc, a descendant of Carbre-Riada, along with his brothers Lorn and Angus, left Ireland and settled on the western coast of Argyle and the adjacent islands. “The territories which constituted the petty kingdoms of Dalriada can be pretty well defined. They were bounded on the south by the Frith of Clyde, and they were separated on the east from the Pictish kingdom by the ridge of the great mountain chain called Drumalban. They consisted of four tribes, – the genus or Cinel Lorn, descended from Lorn, the elder of the three brothers; the Cinel Gabran and Cinel Comgall, descended from two sons of Domangart, son of Fergus, the second of the brothers; and the Cinel Angus, descended from the third brother, Angus. The Cinel Comgall inhabited the district formerly called Comgall, now corrupted into Cowall. The Cinel Gabran inhabited what was called the Airgiallas, or the district of Argyle proper, and Kintyre. The Cinel Angus inhabited the islands of Islay and Jura, and the Cinel Lorn, the district of Lorn. Beyond this, on the north, the districts between Lorn and the promontory of Ardnamurchan, i.e., the island of Mull, the district of Morven, Ardgower, and probably part of Lochaber, seem to have formed a sort of debatable ground the population of which was Pictish, while the Scots had settlements among them. In the centre of the possessions of the Cinel Gabran, at the head of the well-sheltered loch of Crinan, lies the great Moss of Crinan, with the river Add flowing through it. In the centre of the moss, and on the side of the river, rises an isolated rocky hill called Dunadd, the top of which is strongly fortified. This was the capital of Dalriada, and many a stone obelisk in the moss around it bears silent testimony to the contests of which it was the centre. The picturesque position of Dunolly Castle, on a rock at the entrance of the equally sheltered bay of Oban, afforded another fortified summit, which was the chief stronghold of the tribe of Lorn. Of Dunstaffnage, as a royal seat, history knows nothing.”8
It would appear that Lorn and Fergus at first reigned jointly, the latter becoming sole monarch on the decease of the former. The succession appears not to have been confined to any particular line, and a disputed succession not unfrequently involved the Scots in civil war.
There is no portion of history so obscure or so perplexing as that of the Scoto-Irish kings, and their tribes, from their first settlement, in the year 503, to their accession to the Pictish throne in 843. Unfortunately no contemporaneous written records appear ever to have existed of that dark period of our annals, and the efforts which the Scotch and Irish antiquaries have made to extricate the truth from the mass of contradictions in which it lies buried, have rather been displays of national prejudice than calm researches by reasonable inquirers. The annals, however, of Tigernach, and of Ulster, along with the brief chronicles and historical documents first brought to light by the industrious Innes, in his Critical Essay, have thrown some glimpses of light on a subject which had long remained in almost total darkness.9
The next authentic event of importance that falls to be recorded in connection with the history of the Highlands, is the conversion of the Northern Picts to Christianity, about the year 563. The Southern Picts, i.e. those living to the south and east of the Grampians, were converted by St. Ninian (360-432) about the beginning of the 5th century; but the Northern Picts, until the date above-mentioned, continued Pagans. That there were no Christians among them till that time appears very improbable, considering their close neighbourhood and constant intercourse with the Southern Picts and the Scots of Dalriada; but there can be no doubt that the court and the great bulk of the people adhered to their ancient superstitions.
The religion of the Picts before their conversion is supposed by the majority of writers on this subject to have been that which prevailed in the rest of Britain and in Celtic Gaul, Druidism. The incredulous Burton, however, if we may judge from his History of Scotland,10 as well as from an article of his in the Edinburgh Review, seems to believe that the whole system of Druidism has been elaborated by the imaginations of modern historians. That the Picts previous to their conversion had a religion, and a religion with what may be called priests and religious services, cannot be doubted, if we may trust Tacitus and Adamnan, the biographer of Columba; the former of whom tells us that, previous to the battle of the Grampians, the union of the various tribes was ratified by solemn rites and sacrifices, and the latter, that Columba’s efforts at conversion were strenuously opposed by the diabolical arts and incantations of the Magi. It appears from Adamnan that fountains were particularly objects of veneration; the superstitious awe with which many fountains and wells are regarded at the present day, being doubtless a remnant of the ancient Pictish religion. Trees, rivers, and lakes, as well as the heavenly bodies, appear also to have been objects of religious regard, and not a few of the customs which exist in Scotland at the present day have been inherited from our Pictish ancestors. Such are many of the rites performed on Hallowe’en, Beltane, Midsummer, &c., and many every-day superstitions still prevalent in the country districts of Scotland.
“Druidism is said to have acknowledged a Supreme Being, whose name was synonymous with the Eastern Baal, and if so, was visibly represented by the sun; and such remnants of the ancient worship as are still traceable in the language of the people, would indicate its having been a species of sun-worship. To this day the four leading points of the compass bear, in the terms which designate them among the Gael, marks of this. The east is ear, like the Latin oriens, from the Gaelic eiridh, ‘to rise;’ the west is iar, ‘after,’ used also as a preposition; the south is deas, and the north tuath; and it is in the use of these terms that the reverence for the solar luminary chiefly appears. Deas, ‘the south,’ is in all circumstances right; it is the right hand, which is easily intelligible, from the relation of that hand to the south when the face looks eastward; and it is expressive of whatever is otherwise right. Deas also means complete, trim, ready; whatever is deas, or southerly, is just as it should be. Tuath, ‘north,’ is the very opposite. Tuathaisd is a ‘stupid fellow;’ Tuathail is ‘wrong’ in every sense: south and north, then, as expressed in the words deiseal and tuathail, are, in the Gaelic language, the representatives of right and wrong. Thus everything that is to move prosperously among many of the Celts, must move sunwise: a boat going to sea must turn sunwise; a man or woman immediately after marriage, must make a turn sunwise. There are relics of fire-worship too; certain days are named from fire-lighting; Beallteine, or ‘the first day of summer,’ and saimhtheine, ‘the first day of winter,’ – the former supposed to mean the fire of Baal or Bel, the latter closing the saimhré, or summer period of the year, and bringing in the geamhré, or winter period, are sufficient evidence of this. There are places in Scotland where within the memory of living men the teine eigin, or ‘forced fire,’ was lighted once every year by the rubbing of two pieces of wood together, while every fire in the neighbourhood was extinguished in order that they might be lighted anew from this sacred source.”11
Many of the antiquities which are scattered over the north of Scotland, such as stone circles, monoliths, sculptured stones, rocking stones, &c., are very generally supposed to have been connected with religion. From the resemblance of the circles especially, to those which exist in South Britain and in France, it has been supposed that one religion prevailed over these countries. As Druidism is so commonly believed to have prevailed among the Picts as well as among the other inhabitants of Britain, we shall here give a very brief account of that system, chiefly as we find it given in Cæsar.12 The following is the account given by Cæsar of the character and functions of the Druids:- “They attend to divine worship, perform public and private sacrifices, and expound matters of religion. A great number of youths are gathered round them for the sake of education, and they enjoy the highest honour in that nation; for nearly all public and private quarrels come under their jurisdiction; and when any crime has been committed, when a murder has been perpetrated, when a controversy arises about a legacy, or about landmarks, they are the judges too. They fix rewards and punishments; and should any one, whether a private individual or a public man, disobey their decrees, then they exclude him from the sacrifices. All these Druids have one chief, who enjoys the highest authority amongst them. When he dies, he is succeeded by the member of the order who is most prominent amongst the others, if there be any such single individual; if, however, there are several men equally distinguished, the successor is elected by the Druids. Sometimes they even go to war about this supremacy.
“The Druids take no part in warfare; nor do they pay taxes like the rest of the people; they are exempt from military service, and from all public burdens. Attracted by such rewards, many come to be instructed by their own choice, while others are sent by their parents. They are reported to learn in the school a great number of verses, so that some remain there twenty years. They think it an unhallowed thing to commit their lore to writing, though in the other public and private affairs of life they frequently make use of the Greek alphabet… Beyond all things, they are desirous to inspire a belief that men’s souls do not perish, but transmigrate after death from one individual to another; and besides, they hold discourses about the stars, about the size of the world and of various countries, about the nature of things, and about the power and might of the immortal gods.”
Among the objects of druidical veneration the oak is said to have been particularly distinguished; for the Druids imagined that there was a supernatural virtue in the wood, in the leaves, in the fruit, and above all in the mistletoe. Hence the oak woods were the first places of their devotion; and the offices of their religion were there performed without any covering but the broad canopy of heaven. The part appropriated for worship was inclosed in a circle, within which was placed a pillar of stone set up under an oak, and sacrifices were offered thereon. The pillars which mark the sites of these places of worship are still to be seen; and so great is the superstitious veneration paid by the country people to those sacred stones, as they are considered, that few persons have ventured to remove them.
Besides the immunities before-mentioned enjoyed by the Druids, they also possessed both civil and criminal jurisdiction, they decided all controversies among states as well as among private persons; and whoever refused to submit to their awards was exposed to the most severe penalties. The sentence of excommunication was pronounced against him; he was debarred all intercourse with his fellow-citizens; his company was universally shunned as profane and dangerous; he was refused the protection of law; and death itself became an acceptable relief from the misery and infamy to which he was exposed.
St. Columba was born in the county of Donegal, in Ireland, in the year 521, and was connected both on his father’s and mother’s side with the Irish royal family. He was carefully educated for the priesthood, and, after having finished his ecclesiastical studies, founded monasteries in various parts of Ireland. The year of his departure from Ireland is, on good authority, ascertained to have been 563, and it is generally said that he fled to save his life, which was in jeopardy on account of a feud in which his relations were involved. Mr. Grub13 believes that “the love of God and of his brethren was to him a sufficient motive for entering on the great work to which he was called. His immediate objects were the instruction of the subjects of Conal, king of the British Scots, and the conversion of their neighbours the heathen Picts of the North.” In the year 563, when Columba was 42 years of age, he arrived among his kindred on the shores of Argyle, and immediately set himself to fix on a suitable site for a monastery which he meant to erect, from which were to issue forth the apostolic missionaries destined to assist him in the work of conversion, and in which also the youth set apart for the office of the holy ministry were to be educated. St. Columba espied a solitary isle lying apart from the rest of the Hebridean group, near the south-west angle of Mull, then known by the simple name I, whose etymology is doubtful, afterwards changed by Bede into Hy, latinized by the monks into Iova or Iona, and again honoured with the name of I-columb-cil, the island of St. Columba of the church. This island, Conal, who was then king of the Christian Scots of Argyle, presented to Columba, in order that he might erect thereon a monastery for the residence of himself and his disciples. No better station could have been selected than this islet during such barbarous times.
In pursuance of his plan, St. Columba settled with twelve disciples in Hy “They now,” says Bede, “neither sought, nor loved, anything of this world,” – true traits in the missionary character. For two years did they labour with their own hands erecting huts and building a church of logs and reeds. “The monastery of Iona, like those previously founded by Columba in Ireland, was not a retreat for solitaries whose chief object was to work out their own salvation; it was a great school of Christian education, and was specially designed to prepare and send forth a body of clergy trained to the task of preaching the Gospel among the heathen.”14 Having established his missionary institution, and having occupied himself for some time in the instruction of his countrymen the Scots of Argyle, the pious Columba set out on his apostolic tour among the Picts, probably in the year 565. At this Bridei or Brude, whose reign extended from 536 to 586, the son of Mailcon, a powerful and influential prince, reigned over the Northern Picts, and appears also to have had dominion over those of the south. Judging well that if he could succeed in converting Brude, who, when Columba visited him was staying at one of his residences on the banks of the Ness, the arduous task he had undertaken of bringing over the whole nation to the worship of the true God would be more easily accomplished, he first began with the king, and by great patience and perseverance succeeded in converting him.
The first Gaelic entry in the Book of Deer lets us see the great missionary on one of his tours, and describes the founding of an important mission-station which became the centre of instruction for all the surrounding country. The following is the translation given of the Gaelic original:- “Columcille, and Drostán son of Cosgrach, his pupil, came from Hí, as God had shown to them, unto Abbordoboir, and Bede the Pict was mormaer of Buchan before them, and it was he that gave them that town in freedom for ever from mormaer and toisech. They came after that to the other town, and it was pleasing to Columcille because it was full of God’s grace, and he asked of the mormaer, to wit Bede, that he should give it to him; and he did not give it, and a son of his took an illness after [or in consequence of] refusing the clerics, and he was nearly dead [lit. he was dead but if it were a little]. After this the mormaer went to entreat the clerics that they should make prayer for the son, that health should come to him; and he gave in offering to them from Cloch in tiprat to Cloch pette meic Garnait. They made the prayer, and health came to him. After that Columcille gave to Drostán that town, and blessed it, and left as (his) word, ‘Whosoever should come against it, let him not be many-yeared [or] victorious.’ Drostán’s tears came on parting from Columcille. Said Columcille, ‘Let DÉAR be its name henceforward.’ ”
The Abbordoboir here spoken of is Aberdour on the north coast of Aberdeenshire, and Dear probably occupied the site of what is now Old Deer, about twelve miles inland from Aberdour. There is every reason for believing in the substantial truth of the narrative. The two saints, probably from the banks of the Ness, came to Aberdour and “tarried there for a time and founded a monastery on the land which had been granted them. In later times the parish church of Aberdour was dedicated to St. Drostan.” One would almost be inclined to suppose, from the manner in which the missionaries were apparently received, that Christianity had been heard of there before; possibly Bede the Pictish mormaer had been converted at the court of King Brude, and had invited Columba to pay him a visit in Buchan and plant the gospel among the inhabitants. Possibly St. Ninian, the apostle of the southern Picts, may, during his mission among them, have penetrated as far north as Buchan. On the side of the choir of the old parish church of Turriff, a few miles west of Deer, was found painted the figure of St. Ninian, which was probably as old as the 16th century. At all events, Columba and his companion appear to have been made most welcome in Buchan, and were afforded every facility for prosecuting their sacred work. The above record doubtless gives us a fair notion of Columba’s mode of procedure in prosecuting his self-imposed task of converting the inhabitants of Alba. As was the case in Buchan, he appears to have gone from district to district along with his missionary companions, seen the work of conversion fairly begun, planted a monastery in a suitable place, and left one or more of his disciples as resident missionaries to pursue the work of conversion and keep Christianity alive in the district.15
Columba soon had the happiness of seeing the blessings of Christianity diffusing themselves among a people who had hitherto sat in the darkness of paganism. Attended by his disciples he traversed the whole of the Pictish territories, spreading everywhere the light of faith by instructing the people in the truths of the Gospel. To keep up a succession of the teachers of religion, he established, as we have seen, monasteries in every district, and from these issued, for many ages, men of apostolic earnestness, who watered and tended the good seed planted by Columba, and carried it to the remotest parts of the north of Scotland and its islands, so that, in a generation or two after Columba, Christianity became the universal religion. These monasteries or cells were long subject to the Abbey of Iona, and the system of church government which proceeded from that centre was in many respects peculiar, and has given rise to much controversy between presbyterians and episcopalians.
St. Columba died on the 9th of June, 597, after a glorious and well-spent life, thirty-four years of which he had devoted to the instruction of the nation he had converted. His influence was very great with the neighbouring princes, and they often applied to him for advice, and submitted to him their differences, which he frequently settled by his authority. His memory was long held reverence by the Scots and Caledonians.
Conal, the fifth king of the Scots in Argyle, the kinsman of St. Columba, and under whose auspices he entered on the work of conversion, and to whom it is said he was indebted for Hy, died in 571. His successor Aidan went over to Iona in 574, and was there ordained and inaugurated by the Abbot according to the ceremonial of the liber vitreus, the cover of which is supposed to have been encrusted with crystal.
To return to the history of the Picts, we have already observed that little is known of Pictish history for more than a hundred years after the Roman abdication; and even up to the union of the Picts and Scots, the materials for the history of both are about as scarce as they could possibly be, consisting mostly of meagre chronicles containing the names of kings, the dates of their accession and death, and occasionally the names of battles and of the contending nations. Scotland during this period appears to have been the scene of unceasing war between the Scots, Picts, Britons of Strathclyde, English, and Danes, the two first being continually at strife not only with each other but among themselves. We shall endeavour to give, as clearly and as faithfully as possible, the main reliable facts in the history of the Scots and Picts until the union of these two nations.
The reign of Brude was distinguished by many warlike exploits, but above all, as we have seen, by his conversion and that of his people to Christianity, which indeed formed his greatest glory. His chief contests were with the Scoto-Irish or Dalriads, whom he defeated in 557, and slew Gauran their king. Brude died in 586, and for several ages his successors carried on a petty system of warfare, partly foreign and partly domestic. Passing over a domestic conflict, at Lindores in 621, under Kenneth, son of Luthrin, we must notice the important battle of Dun-Nechtan, fought in 685, between the Picts under Brude, the son of Bili,16 and the Saxons, under the Northumbrian Egfrid. The Saxon king, it is said, greedy of conquest, attacked the Picts without provocation, and against the advice of his court. Crossing the Forth from Lothian, he entered Strathearn and penetrated through the defiles of the Pictish kingdom, leaving fire and desolation in his train. His career was stopt at Dun-Nechtan, the hill of Nechtan, a hill in the parish of Dunnichen, about the centre of Forfarshire; and by a neighbouring lake, long known by the name of Nechtan’s mere, a short distance cast from the town of Forfar, did Egfrid and his Saxons fall before Brude and his exasperated Picts. This was a sad blow to the Northumbrian power; yet the Northumbrians, in 699, under Berht, an able leader, again ventured to try their strength with the Picts, when they were once more defeated by Brude, the son of Dereli, who had recently mounted the Pictish throne.
The wars between the Picts and Northumbrians were succeeded by various contests for power among the Pictish princes, which gave rise to a civil war. Ungus, honoured by the Irish Annalists with the title of great, and Elpin, at the head of their respective partisans, tried their strength at Monacrib, supposed by some to be Moncrieff in Strathearn, in the year 727, when the latter was defeated; and the conflict was renewed at Duncrei (Crieff), when victory declared a second time against Elpin, who was obliged to flee from the hostility of Ungus. Nechtan next tried his strength with Ungus, in 728, at a place called Monacurna by the Annalists – possibly Moncur in the Carse of Gowrie – but he was defeated, and many of his followers perished. Talorgan, the son of Congus, was defeated by Brude, the son of Ungus, in 730, and in the same year the Picts appear to have entered into a treaty of peace with the English nation.
The victorious Ungus commenced hostilities against the Dalriads, or Scoto-Irish, in the year 736, and appears to have got the better of the latter. The Scots were again worsted in another battle in 740 by Ungus, who in the same year repulsed an attack of the Northumbrians under Eadbert. In the year 750 he defeated the Britons of the Cumbrian kingdom in the battle of Cato or Cath-O, in which his brother Talorgan was killed. Ungus, who appears to have been a powerful and able monarch, but whom Bede17 characterizes as having conducted himself “with bloody wickedness, a tyrant and an executioner,” died about 760. A doubtful victory was gained by Ciniod, or Kenneth, the Pictish king, over Aodh-fin, the Scottish king, in 767. Constantine, having overcome Conall, the son of Tarla, in 789, succeeded him in the throne.18
Up to this period the Norsemen from Scandinavia, or the Vikingr, i.e. men of the voes or bays, as they were termed, had confined their ravages to the Baltic; but, in the year 787 they for the first time appeared on the east coast of England. [Just to clarify neither Scotland nor England existed at this time – in 843 we have Scotland, & in 927 we have England, coming into being.] Some years afterwards they found their way to the Caledonian shores, and in 795 made their first attack on Iona, which frequently afterwards, along with the rest of the Hebrides, suffered grievously from their ravages. In 839 the Vikingr entered the Pictish territories. A murderous conflict ensued between them and the Picts under Uen their king, in which both he and his only brother Bran, as well as many of the Pictish chiefs, fell. This event, no doubt, hastened the downfall of the Pictish monarchy; and as the Picts were unable to resist the arms of Kenneth, the Scottish king, he carried into execution, in the year 843, a project he had long entertained, of uniting the Scots and Picts, and placing both crowns on his head. That anything like a total extermination of the Picts took place is now generally discredited, although doubtless there was great slaughter both of princes and people. Skene19 asserts indeed that it was only the Southern Picts who became subject to Kenneth, the Northern Picts remaining for long afterwards independent of, but sometimes in alliance with, the Scots. This is substantially the opinion of Mr E. W. Robertson,20 who says, “the modern shires of Perth, Fife, Stirling, and Dumbarton, with the greater part of the county of Argyle, may be said to have formed the actual Scottish kingdom to which Kenneth succeeded.” The Picts were recognised as a distinct people even in the tenth century, but before the twelfth they lost their characteristic nominal distinction by being amalgamated with the Scots, their conquerers.
The Scoto-Irish after their arrival in Argyle did not long continue under the separate authority of the three brothers, Lorn, Fergus, and Angus. They were said to have been very far advanced in life before leaving Ireland, and the Irish chroniclers assert that St. Patrick gave them his benediction before his death, in year 493. The statement as to their advanced age derives some support from their speedy demise after they had laid the foundations of their settlements, and of a new dynasty of kings destined to rule over the kingdom of Scotland. Angus was the first who died, leaving a son, Muredach, who succeeded him in the small government of Ila. After the death of Lorn the eldest brother, Fergus, the last survivor, became sole monarch of the Scoto-Irish; but he did not long enjoy the sovereignty, for he died in 506.
Fergus was succeeded by his son Domangart, or Dongardus, who died in 511, after a short but troubled reign of about five years. His two sons Comgal and Gabhran or Gauran, successively enjoyed his authority. Comgal had a peaceful reign of four and twenty years, during which he extended his settlements. He left a son named Conal, but Gauran his brother, notwithstanding, ascended the throne in the year 535 without opposition. Gauran reigned two and twenty years, and, as we have already observed, was slain in a battle with the Picts under Bridei their king.
Conal, the son of Comgal, then succeeded in 557, and closed a reign of fourteen years in 571. It was during his reign that Columba’s mission to the Picts took place. A civil war ensued between Aodhan or Aidan, the son of Gauran, and Duncha or Duncan, the son of Conal, for the vacant crown, the claim to which was decided on the bloody field of Loro or Loco in Kintyre in 575, where Duncha was slain. Aidan, the son of Gauran, had been formally inaugurated by St. Columba in Iona, in 574. In the time of Aidan there were frequent wars between the Dalriads and the English Saxons. Many battles were fought in which the Scots were generally defeated, the principal being that of Degsastan or Dalston near Carlisle, in 603, in which nearly the whole of the Scottish army was defeated. The wars with the Saxons weakened the power of the Dalriads very considerably, and it was not till after a long period of time that they again ventured to meet the Saxons in the field.
During a short season of repose, Aidan attended by St. Columba, went to the celebrated council of Drum-keat in Ulster, in the year 590. In this council he claimed the principality of Dalriada, the land of his fathers, and obtained an exemption from doing homage to the kings of Ireland, which his ancestors, it would appear, had been accustomed to pay. Aidan died in 605 or 608, at the advanced age of eighty, and was buried in the church of Kil-keran, the ruins of which are still to be seen in the midst of Campbelton.
Aidan was succeeded in the throne by his son Eocha-bui, or the “yellow,” who reigned sixteen years. He carried on war with the Cruithne of Ulster. After him came his brother Kenneth-Cear, or the “left-handed,” who was followed by Ferchar, son of Eogan, of the race of Lorn.
Donal, surnamed breac or freckled, the son Eocha’-bui, of the race of Gauran, succeeded Ferchar about 637. He was a warlike prince and had distinguished himself in the wars against the Cruithne of Ireland. Congal-Claon, the son of Scanlan, the king of the Cruithne in Ulster, having slain Suibne-Mean, a powerful king of Ireland, was attacked by Domnal II., supreme king of Ireland, who succeeded Suibne, and was defeated in the battle of Duncetheren, in 629. Congal sought refuge in Cantyre, and having persuaded Donal-breac, the kinsman of Domnal, to join him in a war against the latter, they invaded Ireland with a heterogeneous mass of Scoto-Irish, Picts, Britons, and Saxons, commanded by Donal and his brothers. Cealach, the son of Maelcomh, the nephew of the reigning king, and as tanist or heir-apparent, the leader of his army, attacked Donal-breac in the plain of Magh Rath or Moyra in Down, in 637, and completely defeated him after an obstinate and bloody engagement. Congal, the murderer of his sovereign, met his merited fate, and Donal-breac was obliged to secure his own and his army’s safety by a speedy return to Cantyre. St. Columba had always endeavoured to preserve an amicable understanding between the Cruithne of Ulster and the Scoto-Irish, and his injunctions were, that they should live in constant peace; but Donal disregarded the wise advice of the saint, and paid dearly for so doing. He was not more successful in an enterprise against the Picts, having been defeated by them in the battle of Glinne Mairison, Glenmairison, or Glenmoreson, probably in West Lothian,21 during the year 638. He ended his days at Straith-cairmaic or Strathcarron, possibly in the neighbourhood of Falkirk, by the sword of Hoan or Owen, one of the reguli of Strathcluyd, in the year 642. His son Cathasuidh fell by the same hand in 649.
Conal II., the grandson of Conal I., who was also of the Fergusian race of Congal, next ruled over the tribes of Cantyre and Argyle; but Dungal, of the race of Lorn, having obtained the government of the tribe of Lorn, questioned the right of Conal. He did not, however, carry his pretensions far, for Conal died, in undisturbed possession of his dominions, in 652, after a reign of ten years. To Donal-duin, or the brown, son of Conal, who reigned thirteen years, succeeded Maolduin, his brother, in 665. The family feuds which had long existed between the Fergusian races of Comgal and Tauran, existed in their bitterest state during the reign of Maolduin. Domangart, the son of Donal-breac, was murdered in 672, and Conal, the son of Maolduin, was assassinated in 675.
Ferchar-fada, or the tall, apparently of the race of Lorn, and either the son or grandson of Ferchar, who died in 637, seized the reins of government upon the death of Maolduin. On the death of Ferchar, in 702, the sceptre passed again to the Fergusian race in the person of Eocha’-rineval, remarkable for his Roman nose, the son of Domangart. The reign of this prince was short and unfortunate. His sceptre was seized by Ainbhcealach, the son of Ferchar-fada, who succeeded Eocha’ in 705. He was of an excellent disposition, but after reigning one year, was dethroned by his brother, Selvach, and obliged, in 706, to take refuge in Ireland. Selvach attacked the Britons of Strathcluyd, and gained two successive victories over them, the one at Longecoleth in 710, and the other at the rock of Mionuirc in 716. At the end of twelve years, Ainbhcealach returned from Ireland, to regain a sceptre which his brother had by his cruelties shown himself unworthy to wield, but he perished in the battle of Finglein, perhaps Glen Fyne at the head of Loch Fyne, in 719. Selvach met a more formidable rival in Duncha-beg, who was descended from Fergus, by the line of Congal; he assumed the government of Cantyre and Argail, and confined Selvach to his family settlement of Lorn. These two princes appear to have been fairly matched in disposition and valour, and both exerted themselves for the destruction of one another, thus bringing many miseries upon their tribes. In an attempt which they made to invade the territories of each other in 719 by means of currachs, a naval combat ensued off Airdeanesbi, (probably Ardaness on the coast of Argyle,) in which Selvach was overcome by Duncha; but Selvach was not subdued. The death of Duncha in 721 put an end to his designs; but Eocha’ III., the son of Eocha’-rineval, the successor of Duncha, being as bent on the overthrow of Selvach as his predecessor, continued the war. The rival chiefs met at Irroisfoichne in 727, where a battle was fought, which produced nothing but irritation and distress. This lamentable state of things was put an end to by the death of Selvach in 729. This event enabled Eocha to assume the government of Lorn, and thus the Dalriadan kingdom which had been alternately ruled by chiefs of the houses of Fergus and Lorn became again united under Eocha. He died in 733, after a reign of thirteen years, during nine of which he ruled over Cantyre and Argyle, and four over all the Dalriadic tribes.
Eocha was succeeded in the kingdom by Muredach, the son of Ainbhceallach, of the race of Lorn. His reign was short and unfortunate. In revenge for an act of perfidy committed by Dungal, the son of Selvach, who had carried off Forai or Torai, the daughter of Brude, and the niece of Ungus, the great Pictish king, the latter, in the year 736, led his army from Strathearn, through the passes of the mountains into Lorn, which he wasted with fire and sword. He seized Dunad, in Mid-Lorn, and burned Creic, another fortress in the Ross of Mull, taking Dungal and Feradach, the two sons of Selvach, prisoners. Muredach went in pursuit of his enemy, and having overtaken him at Knock Cairpre, at Calatros, on the shores of the Linnhe,22 a battle ensued, in which the Scots were repulsed with great slaughter. Talorgan, the brother of Ungus, commanded the Picts on this occasion, and pursued the flying Scots. In this pursuit Muredach is supposed to have perished, after a reign of three years.
Eogban or Ewan, the son of Muredach, took up the fallen succession in 736, and died in 739, in which year the Dalriadic sceptre was assumed by Aodh-fin, the son of Eocha’ III., and grandson of Eocha’-rineval, descended from the Fergusian race of Gauran. In 740 he measured his strength with the celebrated Ungus; but victory declared for neither, and during the remainder of Ungus’ reign, he did not attempt to renew hostilities. After the death of Ungus, in 761, Aodh-fin declared war against the Picts, whose territories he entered from Upper Lorn, penetrating through the passes of Glenorchy and Breadalbane. In 767 he reached Forteviot, the Pictish capital in Strathearn, where he fought a doubtful battle with Ciniod the Pictish king. Aodh-fin died in 769, after a splendid reign of thirty years.23
Fergus II., son of Aodh-fin, succeeded to the sceptre on the demise of his father, and died after an unimportant reign of three years. Selvach II., the son of Eogan, assumed the government in 772. His reign, which lasted twenty-four years, presents nothing very remarkable in history.
A new sovereign of a different lineage, now mounted the throne of the Scots in 796, in the person of Eocha or Auchy, the son of Aodh-fin of the Gauran race. Eocha’ IV. is known also by the latinized appellation of Achaius. The story of the alliance between Achaius and Charlemagne has been shown to be a fable; although it is by no means improbable that he entered into an important treaty with the Picts, by marrying Urgusia, the daughter of Urguis, an alliance which, it is said, enabled his grandson Kenneth afterwards to claim and acquire the Pictish sceptre, in right of Urgusia his grandmother. Eocha died in 826, after a happy and prosperous reign of thirty years. He was succeeded by Dungal, the son of Selvach II., of the race of Lorn, being the last of that powerful family who swayed the Dalriadic sceptre. After a feeble but stormy reign of seven years, he died in 833.
Alpin, the last of the Scoto-Irish kings, and the son of Eocha IV. and of Urgusia, now mounted the throne. He was killed in 836, near the site of Laicht castle, on the ridge which separates Kyle from Galloway. The fiction that Alpin fell in a battle with the Picts, when asserting his right to the Pictish throne, has long been exploded.
In 836 Kenneth, the son of Alpin, succeeded his father. He was a prince of a warlike disposition, and of great vigour of mind and body. He avenged the death of his father by frequent inroads among the people dwelling to the south of the Clyde; but the great glory of his reign consists in his achievements against the Picts, which secured for him and his posterity the Pictish sceptre. The Pictish power had, previous to the period of Kenneth’s accession, been greatly enfeebled by the inroads of the Danish Vikingr; but it was not till after the death of Uven, the Pictish king, in 839, after distracted reign of three years, that Kenneth made any serious attempt to seize the Pictish diadem. On the accession of Wred, Kenneth, in accordance with the principle of succession said by Bede to have prevailed among the Picts, claimed the Pictish throne in right of Urgusia, his grandmother; Wred died in 842, after an arduous struggle, Kenneth wrested the sceptre from Bred, his successor, in 843, after he had reigned over the Scots seven years.
Burton24 thinks there can be no doubt that the two countries were prepared for a fusion whenever a proper opportunity offered, but that this was on account of a matrimonial alliance between the two royal houses cannot with certainty be ascertained.25 As we have said already, it is extremely improbable that Kenneth gained his supremacy by extermination. The Picts certainly appear to have suffered severe defeat, but the likelihood is that after Kenneth succeeded to the throne, a gradual fusion of the two people took place, so that in course of time they became essentially one speaking one language, obeying the same laws, and following the same manners and customs. If we knew for certain to what race the Picts belonged, and what language they spoke, it might help us not a little to understand the nature and extent of the amalgamation; but as we know so little about these, and as the chroniclers, in speaking of this event, are so enigmatical and meagre, we are left almost entirely to conjecture. We are certain, at any rate, that from some cause or other, the kings of the Dalriadic Scots, about the middle of the 9th century, obtained supremacy over at least the Southern Picts, who from that time forward ceased to be a separate nation.26
The history of the Scoto-Irish kings affords few materials either amusing or instructive; but it was impossible, from the connexion between that history and the events that will follow in detail, to pass it over in silence. Scoto-Irish tribes appear to have adopted much the same form of government as existed in Ireland at the time of their departure from that kingdom; the sovereignty of which, though nominally under one head, was in reality a pentarchy, which allowed four provincial kings to dispute the monarchy of the fifth. This system was the prolific source of anarchy, assassinations, and civil wars. The Dalriads were constantly kept in a state of intestine commotion and mutual hostility by the pretensions of their rival chiefs, or princes of the three races, who contended with the common sovereign for pre-eminence or exemption. The dlighe-tanaiste, or law of tanistry, which appears to have been generally followed as in Ireland, as well in the succession of kings as in that of chieftains, rather increased than mitigated these disorders; for the claim to rule not being regulated by any fixed law of hereditary succession, but depending upon the capricious will of the tribe, rivals were not found wanting to dispute the rights so conferred. There was always, both in Ireland and in Argyle, an heir presumptive to the Crown chosen, under the name of tanist, who commanded the army during the life of the reigning sovereign, and who succeeded to him after his demise. Budgets, and committees of supply, and taxes, were wholly unknown in those times among the Scots, and the monarch was obliged to support his dignity by voluntary contributions of clothes, cattle, furniture, and other necessaries.
There is reason to believe that tradition supplied the place of written records for many ages after the extinction of the Druidical superstition. Hence among the Scots, traditionary usages and local customs long supplied the place of positive or written laws. It is a mistake to suppose, as some writers have done, that the law consisted in the mere will of the Brehon or judge. The office of Breitheamhuin or Brehon was hereditary, and it is quite natural to infer, that under such a system of jurisprudence, the dictum of the judge might not always comport with what was understood to be the common law or practice; but from thence, to argue that the will of the judge was to be regarded as the law itself, is absurd, and contrary to every idea of justice. As the principle of the rude jurisprudence of the Celtic tribes had for its object the reparation, rather than the prevention of crimes, almost every crime, even of the blackest kind, was commuted by a mulct or payment. Tacitus observes in allusion to this practice, that it was “a temper wholesome to the commonwealth, that homicide and lighter transgressions were settled by the payment of horses or cattle, part to the king or community, part to him or his friends who had been wronged.” The law of Scotland long recognised this system of compensation. The fine was termed, under the Brehon law, eric, which not only signifies a reparation, but also a fine, a ransom, a forfeit. Among the Albanian Scots it was called cro, a term preserved in the Regiam Majestatem, which has a whole chapter showing “the cro of ilk man, now mikil it is.”27 This law of reparation, according to O’Connor, was first promulgated in Ireland, in the year 164.28 According to the Regiam Majestatem, the cro of a villain was sixteen cows; of an earl’s son or thane, one hundred; of an earl, one hundred and forty; and that of the king of Scots, one thousand cows, or three thousand oras, that is to say, three oras for every cow.
Besides a share of the fines imposed, the Brehon or judge obtained a piece of arable land for his support. When he administered justice, he used to sit sometimes on the top of a hillock or heap of stones, sometimes on turf, and sometimes even on the middle of a bridge, surrounded by the suitors, who, of course, pleaded their own cause. We have already seen that, under the system of the Druids, the offices of religion, the instruction of youth, and the administration of the laws, were conducted in the open air; and hence the prevalence of the practice alluded to. But this practice was not peculiar to the Druids; for all nations, in the early stages of society, have followed a similar custom. The Tings of the Scandinavians, which consisted of circular enclosures of stone, without any covering, and within which both the judicial and legislative powers were exercised, afford a striking instance of this. According to Pliny,29 even the Roman Senate first met in the open air, and the sittings of the Court of the Areopagus, at Athens, were so held. The present custom of holding courts of justice in halls is not of very remote antiquity in Scotland, and among the Scoto-Irish, the baron bailie long continued to dispense justice to the baron’s vassals from a moothill or eminence, which was generally on the bank of a river, and near to a religious edifice.
Of the various customs and peculiarities which distinguished the ancient Irish, as well as the Scoto-Irish, none has given rise to greater speculation than that of fosterage; which consisted in the mutual exchange, by different families, of their children for the purpose of being nursed and bred. Even the son of the chief was so entrusted during pupilarity with an inferior member of the clan. An adequate reward was either given or accepted in every case, and the lower orders, to whom the trust was committed, regarded it as an honour rather than a service. “Five hundred kyne and better,” says Campion, “were sometimes given by the Irish to procure the nursing of a great man’s child.” A firm and indissoluble attachment always took place among foster-brothers, and it continues in consequence to be a saying among Highlanders, that “affectionate to a man is a friend, but a foster-brother is as the life-blood of his heart.” Camden observes, that no love in the world is comparable by many degrees to that of foster-brethren in Ireland.30 The close connexion which the practice of fosterage created between families, while it frequently prevented civil feuds, often led to them. But the strong attachment thus created was not confined to foster-brothers, it also extended to their parents. Spenser relates of the foster-mother to Murrough O’Brien, that, at his execution, she sucked the blood from his head, and bathed her face and breast with it, saying that it was too precious to fall to the earth.
It is unnecessary, at this stage of our labours, to enter upon the subject of clanship; we mean to reserve our observations thereon till we come to the history of the clans, when we shall also notice some peculiarities or traits of the Highlanders not hitherto mentioned. We shall conclude this chapter by giving lists of the Pictish and Scoto-Irish Kings, which are generally regarded as authentic. A great many other names are given by the ancient chroniclers previous to the points at which the following lists commence, but as these are considered as totally untrustworthy, we shall omit them.
A CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE PICTISH KINGS,
CHIEFLY ACCORDING TO THE PICTISH CHRONICLE.
|Series.||Names and Fillations.||Date of Accession.||Duration of Reigns.||Date of Death.|
|1||DRUST, the son of Erp,||451|
|2||TALORC, the son of Aniel,||451||4 years.||455|
|3||NECTON MORBET, the son of Erp,||455||25 …||480|
|4||DREST Gurthinmoch,||480||30 …||510|
|5||GALANAU ETELICH, or GALANAN ERELECH,||510||12 …||522|
|7||DREST, the son of Girom,||523||1 …||524|
|DREST, the son of Wdrest, with the former,||524||5 …||529|
|DREST, the son of Girom, alone,||529||5 …||534|
|8||GARTNACH, the son of Girom,||534||7 …||541|
|9||GEALTRAIM, or CAILTRAIM, the son of Girom,||541||1 …||542|
|10||TALORG, the son of Muircholaich,||542||11 …||553|
|11||DREST, the son of Munait,||553||1 …||554|
|12||GALAM, with Aleph,||554||1 …||555|
|GALAM, with Bridei,||555||1 …||556|
|13||BRIDEI, the son of Maileon,||556||30 …||586|
|14||GARTNAICH, the son of Domelch, or Donald,||586||11 …||597|
|15||NECTU, or NECHTAN, the nephew of Verb,||597||20 …||617|
|16||CINEOCH, or Kenneth, the son of Luthrin,||617||19 …||636|
|17||GARNARD, the son of Wid,||636||4 …||640|
|18||BRIDEI, the son of Wid,||640||5 …||645|
|19||TALORC, their brother,||645||12 …||657|
|20||TALLORCAN, the son of Enfret,||657||4 …||661|
|21||GARTNAIT, the son of Donnel,||661||6½ …||667|
|22||DREST, his brother,||667||7 …||674|
|23||BRIDEI, the son of Bili,||674||21 …||695|
|24||TARAN, the son of Entfidich,||695||4 …||699|
|25||BRIDEI, the son of Dereli,||699||11 …||710|
|26||NECHTON, the son of Dereli,||710||15 …||725|
|27||DREST, and Elpin,||725||5 …||730|
|28||UNGUS, or ONNUST, the son of Urguist,||730||31 …||761|
|29||BRIDEI, the son of Wirguist,||761||2 …||763|
|30||CINIOCH, or KENNETH, the son of Wredech,||763||12 …||775|
|31||ELPIN, the son of Wroid,||775||3½ …||779|
|32||DREST, the son of Talorgan,||779||5 …||784|
|33||TALORGAN, the son of Ungus or Angus,||784||2½ …||786|
|34||CANAUL, the son of Tarla,||786||5 …||791|
|35||CONSTANTINE, the son of Urguist,||791||30 …||821|
|36||UNGUS, the son of Urguist,||821||12 …||833|
|37||DREST, the son of Constantine, and Talorgan, the son of Wthoil,||833||3 …||836|
|38||UUEN, or UVEN, the son of Ungus,||836||3 …||839|
|39||WRAD, the son of Bargoit,||839||3 …||842|
|40||BRED, or BRIUDI,||842||1 …||843|
A CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE SCOTO-IRISH KINGS,
FROM THE YEAR 503 TO 843.
|Series.||Names and Fillations.||Date of Accession.||Duration of Reigns.||Date of Death.|
|1||FERGUS, the son of Erc,||503||3 years.||506|
|2||DOMANGART, the son of Fergus,||506||5 …||511|
|3||COMGAL, the son of Domangart,||511||24 …||535|
|4||GAVRAN, the son of Domangart,||535||22 …||557|
|5||CONAL, the son of Comgal,||557||14 …||571|
|6||AIDAN, the son of Gavran,||571||34 …||605|
|7||EOACHA’-Bui, the son of Aidan,||605||16 …||621|
|8||KENNETH-Cear, the son of Eoacha’-Bui,||621||¼ …||621|
|9||FERCHAR, the son of Eogan, the first of the race of Lorn,||621||16 …||637|
|10||DONAL-BREAC, the son of Eoacha’-Bui,||637||5 …||642|
|11||CONAL II., the grandson of Conal I.,||642||10 …||652|
|12||DUNGAL reigned some years with Conal,||…||…||…|
|13||DONAL-Duin, the son of Conal,||652||13 …||665|
|14||MAOL-Duin, the son of Conal,||665||16 …||681|
|15||FERCHAR-Fada, the grandson of Ferchar I.,||681||21 …||702|
|16||EOACHA’-Rinevel, the son of Domangart, and the grandson of Donal-breac,||702||3 …||705|
|17||AINBHCEALACH, the son of Ferchar-fada,||705||1 …||706|
|18||SELVACH, the son of Ferchar-fada, reigned over Lorn from 706 to 729,||…||…||…|
|19||DUNCHA BEG reigned over Cantyre and Argaill till 720,||706||27 …||733|
|20||EOCHA’ III., the son of Eoacha-rinevel, ovre Cantyre and Argaill, from 720 to 729; and also over Lorn from 729 to 733,||…||…||…|
|21||MUREDACH, the son of Ainbhcealach,||733||3 …||736|
|22||Eogan, the son of Muredach,||736||3 …||739|
|23||AODH-Fin, the son of Eoacha’ III.,||739||30 …||769|
|24||FERGUS, the son of Eogan,||769||3 …||772|
|25||SELVACH II., the son of Eogan,||772||24 …||796|
|26||EOACHA’-Annuine IV., the son of Aodh-fin,||796||30 …||826|
|27||DUNGAL, the son of Selvach II.,||826||7 …||833|
|28||ALPIN, the son of Eoacha’-Annuine IV.,||833||3 …||836|
|29||KENNETH, the son of Alpin,||836||7 …||843|
It is right to mention that the Albanic Duan omits the names between Ainbhcealach and Dungal (17-27), most of which, however, are contained in the St. Andrews’ list.
1 See Innes’s Essay, vol. i.
2 This is the date commonly given, although Mr. E. W. Robertson makes it 502 on the authority of Tighernach, while O’Donovan (Annals of the Four Masters, vol. i. p. 160) makes it 506.
3 Vol. i. p. 212.
4 Early Kings, vol. i. p. 5.
5 Early Kings, vol. ii. p. 305.
6 At this time, and up at least to the 11th century, present Scotland was known as Albania, Alban, or Alba, the term Scotland or Scotia being generally applied to Ireland, unless where there is some qualifying term, as Nova. Burton thinks it not safe to consider that the word Scot must mean a native of present Scotland, when the period dealt with is earlier than the middle of the 12th century.
7 Skene in his Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, p. cx., makes the date to be about 495 or 498.
8 Skene’s Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, p. cxiii.
9 More recently the invaluable labours of E. W. Robertson, Burton, Forbes-Leslie, Joseph Robertson, Grub, Skene, and Maclauchlan, have been the means of putting the history of this period on its proper footing.
10 Vol. i. ch. vi.
11 Dr. Maclauchlan’s Eary Scottish Church, pp. 32, 33.
12 Druid is said to be derived from a word meaning ‘oak,’ common to many of the Indo-European tongues.
13 Eccles. Hist., vol. i. p. 49.
14 Grub’s Ecc. Hist., vol. i. p. 51.
15 Book of Deer, Preface. Further details concerning the early Scottish church will be given at the end of this volume.
16 There is some confusion here: Dr. Maclauchlan places this conflict in the reign of Brude son of Derile, who, according to our list, did not succeed till 699.
17 Book V. c. 24.
18 See the Ulster Annals, where an account is given of all these conflicts.
19 Highlanders, vol. i. p. 65.
20 Early Kings, vol. i. p. 39.
21 Skene’s Chron. of Pits and Scots, p. cxv.
22 Dr. Reeves supposes this to be Culross in Perthshire. – Maclauchlan.
23 Dr. Skene, in his preface to the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots, endeavours to prove, by very plausible reasoning, and by comparison of various lists of kings, that for a century previous to the accession of Kenneth to the Pictish throne, Dalriada was under subjection to the Anglian monarchy, and was ruled by Pictish sovereigns. In an able paper, however, read recently by Dr. Archibald Smith before the Antiquarian Society of Scotland, he shows that Argyleshire was invaded but not subdued by Ungus, king of the Picts, in 736 and 741. Dr. Smith supported his conclusion by reference to passages in the annals of Tigernach, of Ulster, and the Albanic Duan, which seemed to him to give an intelligible and continuous account of regal succession in Dalriada, but afforded no countenance to theory of Pinkerton of the entire conquest of the Scots in Britain by Ungus, nor to the conclusion Dr. Skene has come to, viz., the complete supremacy of the Picts in the Scottish Dalriada, and the extinction of Dalriada as a Scottish nation from the year 741 to the era of a new Scottish kingdom founded by Kenneth Macalpin in the year 843. On the contrary, he was convinced that Aodh-fionn was the restorer of its full liberty to the crushed section of Lorn, and that he was, at the close of his career, the independent ruler of Dalriada as a Scottish nation.
24 Scotland, vol. i. p. 329.
25 See Skene’s preface to Chronicle of Picts and Scots, p. xcviii. et seq., for some curious and ingenious speculation on this point.
26 We shall take the liberty of quoting here an extract from an able and ingenious paper read by Dr. Skene before the Soc. of Ant., in June 1861, and quoted in Dr. Gordon’s Scotichronicon, p. 83. It will help, we think, to throw a little light on this dark subject, and assist the reader somewhat to understand the nature and extent of the so-called Scottish conquest. “The next legend which bears upon the history of St. Andrews is that of St. Adrian, at 4th March. The best edition of this legend is in the Aberdeen Breviary, and it is as follows:- Adrian was a native of Hungary, and after preaching there for some time, was seized with a desire to preach to other people; and having gathered together a company, he set out ‘ad orientales Scotiæ partes que tunc a Pictis occupabantur,’ i.e., ‘to the eastern parts of Scotland, which were then occupied by the Picts,’ – and landed there with 6,606 confessors, clergy, and people, among whom were Glodianus, Gayus, Minanus, Scobrandus, and others, chief priests. These men with their bishop, Adrian, ‘deleto regno Pictorum,’ i.e., ‘the Pictish kingdom being destroyed,’ – did many signs, but afterwards desired to have a residence on the Isle of May. The Danes, who then devastated the whole of Britain, came to the Island, and there slew them. Their martyrdom is said to have taken place in the year 875. It will be observed that they are here said to have settled in the east part of Scotland, opposite the Isle of May, that is in Fife, while the Picts still occupied it: that the Pictish kingdom is then said to have been destroyed; and that their martyrdom took place in 875, thirty years after the Scottish conquest under Kenneth McAlpin. Their arrival was therefore almost coincident with the Scottish conquest; and the large number said to have come, not the modest twenty-one who arrived with Regulus, but 6,606 confessors, clergy, and people, shows that the traditionary history was really one of an invasion, and leads to the suspicion at once that it was in reality a part of the Scottish occupation of the Pictish kingdom. This suspicion is much strengthened by two corroborative circumstances; 1st, the year 875, when they are said to have been slain by the Danes, falls in the reign of Constantine, the son of Kenneth Macalpin, in his fourteenth year, and in this year the Pictish chronicle records a battle between the Danes and the Scots, and adds, that after it, ‘occasi sunt Scotti in Coachcochlum,’ which seems to refer to this very slaughter. 2d. Hector Boëce preserves a different tradition regarding their origin. He says – ‘Non desunt qui scribant sanctissimos Christi martyros Hungaros fuisse. Alii ex Scotis Anglisque gregarie collectos,’ – i.e., ‘Some write that the most holy martyrs of Christ were Hungarians. Others (say) that they were collected from the Scots and English.’ There was therefore a tradition that the clergy slain were not Hungarians, but a body composed of Scotti and Angli. But Hadrian was a Bishop; he landed in the east of Fife, within the parochia of S. Regulus, and he is placed at the head of some of the lists of bishops of St. Andrews as first bishop. It was therefore the Church of St. Andrews that then consisted of clergy collected from among the Scotti and the Angli. The Angli probably represented the Church of Acca, and the Scotti those brought in by Adrian. The real signification of this occupation of St. Andrews by Scottish clergy will be apparent when we recollect that the Columban clergy, who had formerly possessed the chief ecclesiastical seats among the Picts, had been expelled in 717, and Anglic clergy introduced – the cause of quarrel being the difference of their usages. Now, the Pictish chronicle states as the main cause of the overthrow of the Pictish kingdom, a century and a half later, this very cause. It says – ‘Deus enim eos pro merito suæ malitiæ alienos ac otiosos hæreditate dignatus est facere, quia illi non solum Deum, missam, ac præceptum spreverunt sed et in jure æqualitatis aliis aequi pariter noluerunt.’ I.e., ‘For God, on account of their wickedness, deemed them worthy to be made hereditary strangers and idlers; because they contemned not only God, the mass, and the precept (of the Church), but besides refused to be regarded as on the same equality with others.’ ‘They were overthrown not only because they despised ‘Deum missam et præceptum,’ but because they would not tolerate the other party. And this great grievance was removed, when St. Andrews appears at the head of the Scottish Church, in a solemn Concordat with king Constantine, when, as the Pictish Chronicle tells us, ‘Constantinus Rex et Cellachus Episcopus leges disciplinasque fidei atque jura ecclesiarum evangeliorum que pariter cum Scottis devoverunt custodiri.’ I.e., ‘King Constantine and Bishop Kellach vowed to preserve the laws and discipline of the faith and the rights of the churches and gospels, equally with the Scots.’ Observe the parallel language of the two passages. In the one, the ‘Picti in jure æqualitatis aliis,’ that is, the Scottish clergy, ‘aequi pariter noluerunt,’ and in the other the King and the Bishop of St. Andrews ‘vowed to preserve the laws and discipline of the faith’ ‘pariter cum Scottis,’ the thing the Picts would not do. It seems plain, therefore, that the ecclesiastical element entered largely into the Scottish conquest; and a main cause and feature of it was a determination on the part of the Scottish clergy to recover the benefices they had been deprived of. The exact coincidence of this great clerical invasion of the parochia of St. Andrews by ecclesiastics, said by one tradition to have been Scots, and the subsequent position of St. Andrews as the head of the Scottish Church, points strongly to this as the true historic basis of the legend of S. Adrian.”
27 Lib. iv. c. xxiv.
28 O’Connor’s Dissert.
29 Lib. viii. c. 45.
30 Holland’s Camden, Ireland, p. 116.
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