[History of the Scottish Highlands Contents]
The Norse Invasions – Kenneth – Constantine – Aodh – Grig and Eocha – Donald IV. – Constantine III. – Danes – Battle of Brunanburg – Malcolm I. – Indulph – Duff – Culen – Kenneth Ill. – Battle of Luncarty – Malcolm II. – Danes – Duncan – Thorfinn, Jarl of Orkney – Macbeth – Battle with Siward – Lulach – Malcolm III. (Ceanmore) – Queen Margaret – Effect of Norwegian Conquest – Donal-bane – Edgar – Norsemen – Influx of Anglo-Saxons – Isolation of Highlands – Table of Kings.
FOR about two centuries after the union of the two kingdoms, the principal facts to be recorded are the extension of the Scottish dominion southwards beyond the Forth and Clyde, towards the present border, and northwards beyond Inverness, and the fierce contests that took place with the “hardy Norsemen” of Scandinavia and Denmark, who during this period continued not only to pour down upon the coasts and islands of Scotland, but to sway the destinies of the whole of Europe. During this time the history of the Highlands is still to a great extent the history of Scotland, and it was not till about the 12th century that the Highlanders became, strictly speaking, a peculiar people, confined to the territory whose boundaries were indicated in the first chapter, having for their neighbours on the east and south a population of undoubtedly Teutonic origin. The Norse invasions not only kept Scotland in continual commotion at the time, but must have exercised an important influence on its whole history, and contributed a new and vigorous element to its population. These Vikingr, about the end of the 9th century, became so powerful as to be able to establish a separate and independent kingdom in Orkney and the Western Islands, which proved formidable not only to the king of Scotland, but also to the powerful king of Norway. “It is difficult to give them distinctness without risk of error, and it is even hard to decide how far the mark left by these visitors is, on the one hand, the brand of the devastating conqueror; or, on the other hand, the planting among the people then inhabiting Scotland of a high-conditioned race – a race uniting freedom and honesty in spirit with a strong and healthy physical organization. It was in the north that the inroad preserved its most distinctive character, probably from its weight, as most completely overwhelming the original population, whatever they might be; and though, in the histories, the king of Scots appears to rule the northern end of Britain, the territory beyond Inverness and Fort-William had aggregated in some way round a local magnate, who afterwards appears as a Maormor. He was not a viceroy of the king of Norway: and if he was in any way at the order of the King of Scotland, he was not an obedient subordinate.1
Up to the time of Macbeda or Macbeth, the principle of hereditary succession to the throne, father to son, appears not to have been recognised; the only principle, except force, which seems to have been acted upon being that of collateral succession, brother succeeding to brother, and nephew to uncle. After the of Macbeth, however, the hereditary principle appears to have come into full force, to have been recognised as that by which alone succession to the throne was to be regulated.
The consolidation of the Scottish and Pictish power under one supreme chief, enabled these nations not only to repel foreign aggression, but afterwards to enlarge their territories beyond the Forth, which had hitherto formed, for many ages, the Pictish boundary on the south.
Although the power of the tribes to the north of the Forth was greatly augmented by the union which had taken place, yet all the genius and warlike energy of Kenneth were necessary to protect him and his people from insult. Ragnor Lodbrog (i.e., Ragnor of the Shaggy Bones,) with his fierce Danes infested the country round the Tay on the one side, and the Strathclyde Britons on the other, wasted the adjoining territories, and burnt Dunblane. Yet Kenneth overcame these embarrassments, and made frequent incursions into the Saxon territories in Lothian, and caused his foes to tremble. After a brilliant and successful reign, Kenneth died at Forteviot, the Pictish capital, 7 miles S.W. of Perth, on the 6th of February, 859, after a reign of twenty-three years. Kenneth, it is said, removed the famous stone which now sustains the coronation chair at Westminster Abbey, from the ancient seat of the Scottish monarchy in Argyle, to Scone. Kenneth (but according to some Constantine, the Pictish king, in 820), built a church at Dunkeld, to which, in 850, he removed the relics of St. Columba from Iona, which at this time was frequently subjected to the ravages of the Norsemen. He is celebrated also as a legislator, but no authentic traces of his laws now appear, the Macalpine laws attributed to the son of Alpin being clearly apocryphal.
The sceptre was assumed by Donald III., son of Alpin. He died in the year 863, after a short reign of four years. It is said he restored the laws of Aodh-fin, the son of Eocha III. They were probably similar to the ancient Brehon laws of Ireland.
Constantine, the son of Kenneth, succeeded his uncle Donald, and soon found himself involved in a dreadful conflict with the Danish pirates. Having, after a contest which lasted half a century, established themselves in Ireland, and obtained secure possession of Dublin, the Viking directed their views towards the western coasts of Scotland, which they laid waste. These ravages were afterwards extended to the whole of the eastern coast, and particularly to the shores of the Frith of Forth; but although the invaders were often repulsed, they never ceased to renew their attacks. In the year 881, Constantine, in repelling an attack of the pirates, was slain at a place called Merdo-fatha, or Werdo, probably the present Perth, according to Maclauchlan.
Aodh or Hugh, the fair-haired, succeeded his brother Constantine. His reign was unfortunate, short, and troublesome. Grig, who was Maormor, or chief, of the country between the Dee and the Spey, having become a competitor for the crown, Aodh endeavoured to put him down, but did not succeed; and having been wounded in a battle fought at Strathallan, (or possibly Strathdon,) he was carried to Inverurie, where he died, after lingering two months, having held the sceptre only one year.
Grig now assumed the crown, and, either to secure his possession, or from some other motive, he associated with him in the government Eocha, son of Ku, the British king of Strathclyde, and the grandson, by a daughter, of Kenneth Macalpin. After a reign of eleven years, both Eocha and Grig were forced to abdicate, and gave way to
Donald IV., who succeeded them in 893. During his reign the kingdom was infested by the piratical incursions of the Danes. Although they were defeated by Donald in a bloody action at Collin, said to be on the Tay, near Scone, they returned under Ivar O’Ivar, from Ireland, in the year 904, but were gallantly repulsed, and their leader killed in a threatened attack on Forteviot, by Donald, who unfortunately also perished, after a reign of eleven years. In his reign the kings of present Scotland are no longer called reges Pictorum by the Irish Annalists, but Ri Alban, or kings of Alban; and in the Pictish Chronicle Pictavia gives place to Albania.
Constantine III., the son of Aodh, a prince of a warlike and enterprising character, next followed. He had to sustain, during an unusually long reign, the repeated attacks of the Danes. In one invasion they plundered Dunkeld, and in 908, they attempted to obtain the grand object of their designs, the possession of Forteviot in Strathearn, the Pictish capital; but in this design they were again defeated, and forced to abandon the country. The Danes quiet for a few years, but in 918 their fleet entered the Clyde, from Ireland, under the command of Reginald, where they were attacked by the Scots in conjunction with the Northern Saxons, whom the ties of common safety had now united for mutual defence. Reginald is said to have drawn up his Danes in four divisions; the first headed by Godfrey O’Ivar; the second by Earis; the third by Chieftains; and the fourth by Reginald himself, as a reserve. The Scots, with Constantine at their head, made a furious attack on the first three divisions, which they forced to retire. Reginald’s reserve not being available to turn the scale of victory against the Scots, the Danes retreated during the night, and embarked onboard their fleet.
After this defeat of the Danes, Constantine enjoyed many years’ repose. A long grudge had existed between him and Æthelstane, son of Edward, the elder, which at last came to an open rupture. Having formed an alliance with several princes, and particularly with Anlaf, king of Dublin as well as of Northumberland, and son-in-law of Constantine, the latter collected a large fleet in the year 937, with which he entered the Humber. The hope of plunder had attracted many of the Vikingr to Constantine’s standard, and the sceptre of Æthelstane seemed now to tremble in his hand. But that monarch was fully prepared for the dangers with which he was threatened, and resolved to meet his enemies in battle. After a long, bloody, and obstinate contest at Brunanburg, near the southern shore of the Humber, victory declared for Æthelstane. Prodigies of valour were displayed on both sides, especially by Turketel, the Chancellor of England; by Anlaf, and by the son of Constantine, who lost his life. The confederates, after sustaining a heavy loss, sought for safety in their ships. This, and after misfortunes, possibly disgusted Constantine with the vanities of this world, for, in the fortieth year of his reign, he put into practice a resolution which he had formed of resigning his crown and embracing a monastic life. He became Abbot of the Monastery of St. Andrews in 943, and thus ended a long and chequered, but vigorous, and, on the whole, successful reign in a cloister, like Charles V. Towards the end of this reign the term Scotland was applied to this kingdom by the Saxons, a term which before had been given by them to Ireland. Constantine died in 952.
Malcolm I., the son of Donald IV., obtained the abdicated throne. He was a prince of great abilities and prudence, and Edmund of England courted his alliance by ceding Cumbria, then consisting of Cumberland and part of Westmoreland, to him, in the year 945, on condition that he would defend that northern county, and become the ally of Edmund. Edred, the brother and successor of Edmund, accordingly applied for, and obtained the aid of Malcolm against Anlaf, king of Northumberland, whose country, according to the barbarous practice of the times, he wasted, and carried off the people with their cattle. Malcolm, after putting down an insurrection of the Moray-men under Cellach, their Maormor, or chief, whom he slew, was sometime thereafter slain, as is supposed, at Ulurn or Auldearn in Moray, by one of these men, in revenge for the death of his chief.
Indulph, the son of Constantine III., succeeded the murdered monarch in the year 953. He sustained many severe conflicts with the Danes, and ultimately lost his life in 961, after a reign of eight years, in a successful action with these pirates, on the moor which lies to the westward of Cullen.
Duff, the son of Malcolm I., now mounted the throne; but Culen, the son of Indulph, laid claim to the sceptre which his father had wielded. The parties met at Drum Crup (probably Crieff), and, after a doubtful struggle, in which Doncha, the Abbot of Dunkeld, and Dubdou, the Maormor of Athole, the partisans of Culen, lost their lives, victory declared for Duff. But this triumph was of short duration, for Duff was afterwards obliged to retreat from Forteviot into the north, and was assassinated at Forres in the year 965, after a brief and unhappy reign of four years and a half.
Culen, the son of Indulph, succeeded, as a matter of course, to the crown of Duff, which he stained by his vices. He and his brother Eocha were slain in Lothian, in an action with the Britons of Strathclyde in 970, after an inglorious reign of four years and a half. During his reign Ednburgh was captured from the English, this being the first known step in the progress of the gradual extension of the Scottish kingdom between the Forth and the Tweed.2
Kenneth III., son of Malcolm I., and brother of Duff, succeeded Culen the same year. He waged a successful war against the Britons of Strathclyde, and annexed their territories to his kingdom. During his reign the Danes meditated an attack upon Forteviot, or Dunkeld, for the purposes of plunder, and, with this view, they sailed up the Tay with a numerous fleet. Kenneth does not appear to have been fully prepared, being probably not aware of the intentions of the enemy; but collecting as many of his chiefs and their followers as the spur of the occasion would allow, he met the Danes at Luncarty, in the vicinity of Perth. Malcolm, the Tanist, prince of Cumberland, it is said, commanded the right wing of the Scottish army; Duncan, the Maormor of Athole, had the charge of the left; and Kenneth, the king, commanded the centre. The Danes with their battle-axes made dreadful havoc, and compelled the Scottish army to give way; but the latter was rallied by the famous Hay, the traditional ancestor of the Kinnoul family, and finally repulsed the Danes, who, as usual, fled to their ships. Burton thinks the battle of Luncarty “a recent invention.”
The defeat of the Danes enabled Kenneth to turn his attention to the domestic concerns of his kingdom. He appears to have directed his thoughts to bring about a complete change in the mode of succession to the crown, in order to perpetuate in and confine the crown to his own descendants. This alteration could not be well accomplished as long as Malcolm, the son of Duff, the Tanist of the kingdom, and prince of Cumberland, stood in the way; and, accordingly, it has been said that Kenneth was the cause of the untimely death of prince Malcolm, who is stated to have been poisoned. It is said that Kenneth got an act passed, that in future the son, or nearest male heir, of the king, should always succeed to the throne; and that in case that son or heir were not of age at the time of the king’s demise, that a person of rank should be chosen Regent of the kingdom, until the minor attained his fourteenth year, when he should assume the reins of government; but whether such a law was really passed on the moot-hill of Scone or not, of which we have no evidence, certain it is that two other princes succeeded to the crown before Malcolm the son of Kenneth. Kenneth, after a reign of twenty-four years, was, it is said, in 994 assassinated at Fettercairn by Finella,3 the wife of the Maormor of the Mearns, and the daughter of Cunechat, the Maormor of Angus, in revenge for having put her only son to death. It has been thought that till this time the Maormorship of Angus was in some measure independent of the Scottish crown, never having thoroughly yielded to its supremacy, that the death of the young chief took place in course of an effort on the part of Kenneth for its reduction, and that Kenneth himself was on a visit to the quarter at the time of his death, for exacting the usual royal privileges of cain and cuairt, or a certain tax and certain provision for the king and his followers when on a journey, due by the chiefs or landholders of the kingdom.4
Constantine IV., son of Culen, succeeded; but his right was disputed by Kenneth, the Grim, i.e. strong, son of Duff. The dispute was decided at Rathveramon, i.e. the castle at the mouth of the Almond, near Perth, where Constantine lost his life in the year 995.
Kenneth IV., the son of Duff, now obtained the sceptre which he had coveted; but he was disturbed in the possession thereof by Malcolm, the son of Kenneth III., heir presumptive to the crown. Malcolm took the field in 1003, and decided his claim to the crown in a bloody battle at Monivaird, in Strathearn, in which Kenneth, after a noble resistance, received a mortal wound.
Malcolm II. now ascended the vacant throne, but was not destined to enjoy repose. At the very beginning of his reign he was defeated at Durham by the army of the Earl of Northumberland, under his son Uchtred, who ordered selection of good-looking Scotch heads to be stuck on the walls of Durham.
The Danes, who had now obtained a firm footing in England, directed their attention in an especial manner to Scotland, which they were in hopes of subduing. Sigurd, the Earl of Orkney, carried on a harassing and predatory warfare on the shores of the Moray Frith, which he continued even after a matrimonial alliance he formed with Malcolm, by marrying his daughter; but this was no singular trait in the character of a Vikingr, who plundered friends and foes with equal pleasure. The scene of Sigurd’s operations was chosen by his brother northmen for making a descent, which they effected near Speymouth. They carried fire and sword through Moray, and laid siege to the fortress of Nairn, one of the strongest in the north. The Danes were forced to raise the siege for a time, by Malcolm, who encamped his army in a plain near Kilflos or Kinloss. In this position he was attacked by the invaders, and, after a severe action, was forced to retreat, after being seriously wounded.
Malcolm, in 1010, marched north with his army, and encamped at Mortlach. The Danes advanced to meet the Scots, and a dreadful and fierce conflict ensued, the result of which was long dubious. At length the northmen gave way and victory declared for Malcolm. Had the Danes succeeded they would in all probability have obtained as permanent a footing in North Britain as they did in England; but the Scottish kings were determined, at all hazards, never to suffer them to pollute the soil of Scotland by allowing them even the smallest settlement in their dominions. In gratitude to God for his victory, Malcolm endowed a religious house at Mortlach, with its church erected near the scene of action. Maclauchlan, however, maintains that this church was planted by Malcolm Ceanmore.
Many other conflicts are narrated with minute detail by the later chroniclers as having taken place between Malcolm and the Danes, but it is very doubtful how far these are worthy of credit. That Malcolm had enough to do to prevent the Danes from overrunning Scotland and subduing the inhabitants can readily be believed; but as we have few authentic particulars concerning the conflicts which took place, it would serve no purpose to give the imaginary details invented by comparatively recent historians.
Some time after this Malcolm was engaged in a war with the Northumbrians, and, having led his army, in 1018, to Carham, near Werk, on the southern bank of the Tweed, where he was met by Uchtred, the Earl of Northumberland, a desperate battle took place, which was contested with great valour on both sides.5 The success was doubtful on either side, though Uchtred claimed a victory; but he did not enjoy the fruits of it, as he was soon thereafter assassinated when on his road to pay obeisance to the great Canute. Endulf, the brother and successor of Uchtred, justly dreading the power of the Scots, was induced to cede Lothian to Malcolm for ever, who, on this occasion, gave oblations to the churches and gifts to the clergy, and they in return transmitted his name to posterity. He was designed, par excellence, by the Latin chroniclers, rex victoriosissimus, by St. Berchan, the Forranach or destroyer.
The last struggle with which Malcolm was threatened, was with the celebrated Canute, who, for some cause or other not properly explained, entered Scotland in the year 1031; but these powerful parties appear not to have come to action. Canute’s expedition appears, from what followed, to have been fitted out to compel Malcolm to do homage for Cumberland, for it is certain that Malcolm engaged to fulfil the conditions on which his predecessors had held that country, and that Canute thereafter returned to England.
But the reign of Malcolm was not only distinguished by foreign wars, but by civil contests between rival chiefs. Finlegh, the Maormor of Ross, and the father of Macbeth, was assassinated in 1020, and about twelve years thereafter, Maolbride, the Maormor of Moray, grandfather of Lulach, was, in revenge for Finlegh’s murder, burnt within his castle, with fifty of his men.
At length, after a splendid reign of thirty years, Malcolm slept with his fathers, and his body was transferred to Iona, and interred with due solemnity among the remains of his predecessors. By some authorities he is said to have been assassinated at Glammis.
Malcolm was undoubtedly a prince of great acquirements. He made many changes and some improvements in the internal policy of his kingdom, and in him religion always found a guardian and protector. But although Malcolm is justly entitled to this praise, he by no means came up to the standard of perfection assigned him by fiction. In his reign Scotland appears to have reached its present boundary on the south, the Tweed, and Strathclyde was incorporated with the rest of the kingdom. Malcolm was the first who was called Rex Scotiæ, and might justly claim to be so designated, seeing that he was the first to hold sway over nearly the whole of present Scotland, – the only portions where his authority appears to have been seriously disputed being those in which the Danes had established themselves.
Duncan, son of Bethoc or Beatrice, daughter of Malcolm II., succeeded his grandfather in the year 1033. “In the extreme north, dominions more extensive than any Jarl of the Orkneys had hitherto acquired, were united under the rule of Thorfinn, Sigurd’s son, whose character and appearance have been thus described:- ‘He was stout and strong, but very ugly, severe and cruel, but a very clever man.’ The extensive districts then dependant upon the Moray Maormors were in the possession of the celebrated Macbeth.”6 Duncan in 1033, desiring to extend his dominions southwards, attacked Durham, but was forced to retire with considerable loss. His principal struggles, however, were with his powerful kinsman, Thorfinn, whose success was so great that he extended his conquests as far as the Tay. “His men spread over the whole conquered country,” says the Orkneyinga Saga,7 “and burnt every hamlet and farm, so that not a cot remained. Every man that they found they slew; but the old men and women fled to the deserts and woods, and filled the country with lamentation. Some were driven before the Norwegians and made slaves. After this Earl Thorfinn returned to his ships, subjugating the country everywhere in his progress.” Duncan’s last battle, in which he was defeated, was in the neighbourhood of Burghead, near the Moray Frith; and shortly after this, on the 14th August, 1040, he was assassinated in Bothgowanan, – which, in Gaelic, is said to mean “the smith’s hut,” – by his kinsman the Maormor Macbeda or Macbeth. Duncan had reigned only five years when he was assassinated by Macbeth, leaving two infant sons, Malcolm and Donal, by a sister of Siward, the Earl of Northumberland. The former fled to Cumberland, and the latter took refuge in the Hebrides, on the death of their father.
Macbeth, “snorting with the indigested fumes of the blood of his sovereign,” immediately seized the gory sceptre. As several fictions have been propagated concerning the history and genealogy of Macbeth, we may mention that, according to the most authentic authorities, he was by birth Thane of Ross, and by his marriage with the Lady Gruoch, – who had a claim to the throne, as granddaughter of Kenneth, – became also Thane of Moray, during the minority of Lulach, the infant son of that lady, by her former marriage with Gilcomgain, the Maormor or Thane of Moray. Lady Gruoch was the daughter of Boedhe, son of Kenneth IV.; and thus Macbeth united in his own person many powerful interests which enabled him to take quiet possession of the throne of the murdered sovereign. He, of course, found no difficulty in getting himself inaugurated at Scone, under the protection of the clans of Moray and Ross, and the aid of those who favoured the pretensions of the descendants of Kenneth IV.
Various attempts were made on the part of the partisans of Malcolm, son of Duncan, to dispossess Macbeth of the throne. The most formidable was that of Siward, the powerful Earl of Northumberland, and the relation of Malcolm, who, at the instigation or command of Edward the Confessor, led a numerous army into Scotland in the year 1054. They marched as far north as Dunsinnan, where they were met by Macbeth, who commanded his troops in person. A furious battle ensued, but Macbeth fled from the field after many displays of courage. The Scots lost 3,000 men, and the Saxons 1,500, including Osbert, the son of Siward. Macbeth retired to his fastnesses in the north, and Siward returned to Northumberland; but Malcolm continued the war till the death of Macbeth, who was slain by Macduff, Thane of Fife, in revenge for the cruelties he had inflicted on his family, at Lumphanan, in Aberdeenshire, in the year 1056, although, according to Skene (Chronicles), it was in August, 1057.
Macbeth was unquestionably a man of great vigour, and well fitted to govern in the age in which he lived; and had it not been for the indelible character bestowed upon him by Shakespere (who probably followed the chronicle of Holinshed), his character might have stood well with posterity. “The deeds which raised Macbeth and his wife to power were not in appearance much worse than others of their day done for similar ends. However he may have gained his power, he exercised it with good repute, according to the reports nearest to his time.”8 Macbeth, “in a manner sacred to splendid infamy,” is the first king of Scotland whose name appears in the ecclesiastical records as a benefactor of the church, and, it would appear, the first who offered his services to the Bishop of Rome. According to the records of St. Andrews, he made a gift of certain lands to the monastery of Lochleven, and certainly sent money to the poor of Rome, if, indeed, he did not himself make a pilgrimage to the holy city.
After the reign of Macbeth, the former irregular and confusing mode of succession ceased, and the hereditary principle was adopted and acted upon.
Lulach, the great-grandson of Kenneth IV., being supported by the powerful influence of his own family, and that of the deceased monarch, ascended the throne at the age of twenty-five or twenty-six; but his reign lasted only a few months, he having fallen in battle at Essie, in Strathbogie, in defending his crown against Malcolm. The body of Lulach was interred along with that of Macbeth, in Iona, the common sepulchre, for many centuries, of the Scottish kings.
Malcolm III., better known in history by the name of Malcolm Ceanmore, or great head, vindicated his claim to the vacant throne, and was crowned at Scone, 25th April, 1057. His first care was to recompense those who had assisted him in obtaining the sovereignty, and it is said that he created new titles of honour, by substituting earls for thanes; but this has been disputed, and there are really no data from which a certain conclusion can be drawn.
In the year 1059 Malcolm paid a visit to Edward the Confessor, during whose reign he lived on amicable terms with the English; but after the death of that monarch he made a hostile incursion into Northumberland, and wasted the country. He even violated the peace of St. Cuthbert in Holy Island.
William, Duke of Normandy, having overcome Harold in the battle of Hastings, on the 14th October, 1066, Edgar Ætheling saw no hopes of obtaining the crown, and left England along with his mother and sisters, and sought refuge in Scotland. Malcolm, on hearing of the distress of the illustrious strangers, left his royal palace at Dunfermline to meet them, and invited them to Dunfermline, where they were hospitably entertained. Margaret, one of Edgar’s sisters, was a princess of great virtues and accomplishments; and she at once won the heart of Malcolm.
The offer of his hand was accepted, and their nuptials were celebrated with great solemnity and splendour. This queen was a blessing to the king and to the nation, and appears to have well merited the appellation of Saint. There are few females in history who can be compared with Queen Margaret.
It is quite unnecessary, and apart from the object of the present work, to enter into any details of the wars between Malcolm and William the Conqueror, and Wiliam Rufus. Suffice it to say that both Malcolm and his eldest son Edward were slain in a battle on the Alne, on the 13th November, 1093, after a reign of thirty-six years. Queen Margaret, who was on her death-bed when this catastrophe occurred, died shortly after she received the intelligence with great composure and resignation to the will of God. Malcolm had six sons, viz., Edward, who was killed along with his father, Edmund, Edgar, Ethelred, Alexander, and David, and two daughters, Maud, who was married to Henry I. of England, and Mary, who married Eustache, Count of Boulogne. Of the sons, Edgar, Alexander, and David, successively came to the crown.
Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, died in 1064, and his extensive possessions in Scotland did not revert to his descendants, but to the native chiefs, who had had the original right to possess them. These chiefs appear to have been independent of the Scottish sovereign, and to have caused him no small amount of trouble. A considerable part of Malcolm’s reign was spent in endeavouring to bring them into subjection, and before his death he had the satisfaction of seeing the whole of Scotland, with perhaps the exception of Orkney, acknowledging him as sole monarch. The Norwegian conquest appears to have effected a most important change in the character of the population and language of the eastern lowlands of the north of Scotland. The original population must in some way have given way to a Norwegian one, and, whatever may have been the original language, we find after this one of a decidedly Teutonic character prevailing in this district, probably introduced along with the Norse population. “In the more mountainous and Highland districts, however, we are warranted in concluding that the effect must have been very different, and that the possession of the country by the Norwegians for thirty years could have exercised as little permanent influence on the population itself, as we are assured by the Saga it did upon the race of their chiefs.
“Previously to this conquest the northern Gaelic race possessed the whole of the north of Scotland, from the western to the eastern sea, and the general change produced by the conquest must have been, that the Gael were for the first time confined within those limits which they have never since exceeded, and that the eastern districts became inhabited by that Gothic race, who have also ever since possessed them.”9
On the demise of Malcolm, Donal-bane his brother assumed the government; but Duncan, the son of Malcolm, who had lived many years in England, and held a high military rank under William Rufus, invaded Scotland with a large army of English and Normans, and forced Donal to retire for safety to the Hebrides. Duncan, whom some writers suppose to have been a bastard, and others a legitimate son of Malcolm by a former wife, enjoyed the crown only six months, having been assassinated by Maolpeder, the Maormor of the Mearns, at Menteith, at the instigation, it is believed, of Donal. Duncan left, by his wife Ethreda, daughter of Gospatrick, a son, William, sometimes surnamed Fitz-Duncan.
Donal-bane again seized the sceptre, but he survived Duncan only two years. Edgar Ætheling having assembled an army in England, entered Scotland, and made Donal prisoner in an action which took place in September 1097. He was imprisoned by orders of Edgar, and died at Roscobie in Forfarshire, after having been deprived of his eyesight, according to the usual practice of the age. The series of the pure Scoto-Irish kings may be said to have ended with Donal-bane.
The reign of Edgar, who appears to have been of a gentle and peaceful disposition, is almost devoid of incident, the principal events being the marriage of his sister Matilda to the English Henry, and the wasting and conquest of the Western Islands by Magnus Olaveson and his Norwegians. This last event had but little effect on Scotland proper, as these Islands at that time can hardly be said to have belonged it. These Norsemen appear to have settled among and mixed with the native inhabitants, and thus to have formed a population, spoken of by the Irish Annalists under the name of Gallgael, “a horde of pirates, plundering on their own account, and under their own leaders, when they were not following the banner of any of the greater sea-kings, whose fleets were powerful enough to sweep the western seas, and exact tribute from the lesser island chieftains.”10 Edgar died in 1107, and was succeeded by his brother Alexander, whom he enjoined to bestow upon his younger brother David the district of Cumbria.
We have now arrived at an era in our history, when the line of demarcation between the inhabitants of the Lowlands and Highlands of Scotland begins to appear, and when, by the influx of a Gothic race into the former, the language of that part of North Britain is completely revolutionized, when a new dynasty or race of sovereigns ascends the throne, and when a great change takes places in the laws and constitution of the kingdom.
Although the Anglo-Saxon colonization of the Lowlands of Scotland does not come exactly within the design of the present work; yet, as forming an important feature in the history of the Lowlands of Scotland, as contradistinguished from the Highlands, a slight notice of it may not be uninteresting.
Shortly after the Roman abdication of North Britain in the year 446, which was soon succeeded by the final departure of the Romans from the British shores, the Saxons, a people of Gothic origin, established themselves upon the Tweed, and afterwards extended their settlements to the Frith of Forth, and to the banks of the Solway and the Clyde. About the beginning of the sixth century the Dalriads, as we have seen, landed in Kintyre and Argyle from the opposite coast of Ireland, and colonized these districts, whence, in the course of little more than two centuries, they overspread the Highlands and western islands, which their descendants have ever since continued to possess. Towards the end of the eighth century, a fresh colony of Scots from Ireland settled in Galloway among the Britons and Saxons, and having overspread the whole of that country, were afterwards joined by detachments of the Scots of Kintyre and Argyle, in connection with whom they peopled that peninsula. Besides these three races, who made permanent settlements in Scotland, the Scandinavians colonized the Orkney and Shetland islands, and also established themselves on the coasts of Caithness and Sutherland, and in the eastern part of the country north of the Firth of Tay.
But notwithstanding these early settlements the Gothic race, the era of the Saxon colonization of the Lowlands of Scotland is, with more propriety, placed in the reign of Malcolm Ceanmore, who, by his marriage with a Saxon princess, and the protection he gave to the Anglo-Saxon fugitives who sought an asylum in his dominions from the persecutions of William the Conqueror and his Normans, laid the foundations of those great changes which took place in the reigns of his successors. Malcolm, in his warlike incursions into Northumberland and Durham, carried off immense numbers of young men and women, who were to be seen in the reign of David I. in almost every village and house in Scotland. The Gaelic population were quite averse to the settlement of these strangers among them, and it is said that the extravagant mode of living introduced by the Saxon followers of Queen Margaret, was one of the reasons which led to their expulsion from Scotland, in the reign of Donal-bane, who rendered himself popular with his people by this unfriendly act.
This expulsion was, however, soon rendered nugatory, for on the accession of Edgar, the first sovereign of the Scoto-Saxon dynasty, many distinguished Saxon families with their followers settled in Scotland, to the heads of which families the king made grants of land of considerable extent. Few of these foreigners appear to have come into Scotland during the reign of Alexander I., the brother and successor of Edgar; but vast numbers of Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Normans, and Flemings, established themselves in Scotland in the reign of David I. That prince had received his education at the court of Henry I., and had married Maud or Matilda, the only child of Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon, by Judith, niece to William the Conqueror on the mother’s side. This lady had many vassals, and when David came to the throne, in the year 1124, he was followed by a thousand Anglo-Normans, to whom he distributed lands, on which they and their followers settled. Many of the illustrious families in Scotland originated from this source.
Malcolm Ceanmore had, before his accession to the throne, resided for some time in England as a fugitive, under the protection of Edward the Confessor, where he acquired a knowledge of the Saxon language; which language, after his marriage with the princess Margaret, became that of the Scottish court. This circumstance made that language fashionable among the Scottish nobility, in consequence of which and of the Anglo-Saxon colonization under David I., the Gaelic language was altogether superseded in the Lowlands of Scotland in little more than two centuries after the death of Malcolm. A topographical line of demarcation was then fixed as the boundary between the two languages, which has ever since been kept up, and presents one of the most singular phenomena ever observed in the history of philology.
The change of the seat of government by Kenneth, on ascending the Pictish throne, to Abernethy, also followed by the removal of the marble chair, the emblem of sovereignty, from Dunstaffnage to Scone, appears to have occasioned no detriment to the Gaelic population of the Highlands; but when Malcolm Ceanmore transferred his court, about the year 1066, to Dunfermline, – which also became, in place of Iona, the sepulchre of the Scottish kings, – the rays of royal bounty, which had hitherto diffused their protecting and benign influence over the inhabitants of the Highlands, were withdrawn, and left them a prey to anarchy and poverty. “The people,” says General David Stewart, “now beyond the reach of the laws, became turbulent and fierce, revenging in person those wrongs for which the administrators of the laws were too distant and too feeble to afford redress. Thence arose the institution of chiefs, who naturally became the judges and arbiters in the quarrels of their clansmen and followers, and who were surrounded by men devoted to the defence of their rights, their property, and their power; and accordingly the chiefs established within their own territories a jurisdiction almost wholly independent of their liege lord.”
The connection which Malcolm and his successors maintained with England, estranged still farther the Highlanders from the dominion of the sovereign and the laws; and their history, after the population of the Lowlands had merged into and adopted the language of the Anglo-Saxons, presents, with the exception of the wars between rival clans which will be noticed afterwards, nothing remarkable till their first appearance on the military theatre of our national history in the campaigns of Montrose, Dundee, and others.
On the accession of Alexander I., then, Scotland was divided between the Celt and the Saxon, or more strictly speaking, Teuton, pretty much as it is at the present day, the Gaelic population having become gradually confined very nearly to the limits indicated in the first chapter. They never appear, at least until quite recently, to have taken kindly to Teutonic customs and the Teutonic tongue, and resented much the defection of their king in court, in submitting to Saxon innovations. Previous to this the history of the Highlands has been, to a very great extent, the history of Scotland, and even for a considerable time after this, Scotia was applied strictly to the country north of the Forth and Clyde, the district south of that being known by various other names. During and after Edgar’s time, the whole of the country north of the Tweed became more and more a counterpart of England, with its thanes, its earls, and its sheriffs; and even the Highland maormors assumed the title of earl, in deference to the new customs. The Highlanders, however, it is well known, for centuries warred against these Saxon innovations, becoming more and more a peculiar people, being, up till the end of the last [18th] century, a perpetual thorn in the flesh of their Saxon rulers and their Saxon fellow-subjects. They have a history of their own, which we deem worthy of narration.11
CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE SCOTTISH KINGS, FROM 843 TO 1097,
ADJUSTED FROM THE BEST AUTHORITIES.
|Names of the Kings.||Date of Accession.||Duration of Reign.||Death.|
|KENNETH MACALPINE over the Scots and Picts,||843||16 years.||859|
|DONAL MACALPIN,||859||4 …||863|
|CONSTANTINE II., son of Kenneth,||863||18 …||881|
|AODH, or HUGH, the son of Kenneth,||881||1 …||882|
|EOCHA, or ACHY, or GRIG, jointly,||882||11 …||893|
|DONAL IV., the son of Constantine,||893||11 …||904|
|CONSTANTINE III., the son of Aodh,||904||40 …||94412|
|MALCOLM I., son of Donal IV.,||944||9 …||953|
|INDULF, the son of Constantine III.,||953||8 …||961|
|DUF, the son of Malcolm I.,||961||4½ …||965|
|CULEN, the son of Indulf,||965||4½ …||970|
|KENNETH III., son of Malcolm I.,||970||24 …||994|
|CONSTANTINE IV., son of Culen,||994||1½ …||995|
|KENNETH IV., son of Duf,||995||8 …||1003|
|MALCOLM II., son of Kenneth III.,||1003||30 …||1033|
|DUNCAN, grandson of Malcolm II.,||1033||6 …||1039|
|MACBETH, son of Finlegh,||1039||17 …||1056|
|LULACH, son of Gruoch and Gilcomgain,||1056||4½ …||1057|
|MALCOLM III., Ceanmore, son of Duncan,||1057||36½ …||1093|
|DONALD BANE, son of Duncan,||1093||½ …||1094|
|DUNCAN II., son of Malcolm III.,||1094||½ …||1094|
|DONALD BANE again,||1094||3 …||1097|
|EDGAR, son of Malcolm III.,||1097||9 …||1106|
1 Burton’s Scotland, vol. i. p. 354.
2 Robertson’s Early Kings, vol. i. p. 76.
3 According to Skene, Finella is a corruption of Finuele or Finole Cunchar, Earl of Angus. – Akene’s Annals of the Picts and Scots, p. cxliv.
4 Maclauchlan’s Early Scottish Church, p. 306. Robertson’s Scot. under her Early Kings, vol. i. p. 88.
5 The last we hear of any king or ruler of Strathclyde was one that fought on Malcolm’s side in this battle; and presently afterwards the attenuated state is found, without any conflict, absorbed in the Scots king’s dominions. – Burton, vol. i. p. 367.
6 Robertson’s Early Kings, vol. i. p. 113.
7 As quoted by Skene, Highlanders, vol. i. p. 112.
8 Burton’s Scotland, vol. i. p. 372.
9 Skene’s Highlanders, vol. i. p. 123.
10 Early Kings, vol. i. p. 160.
11 Since the above was written, the Book of Deer has been published; what further information is to be gained from it will be found at the end of this volume.
12 Abdicated; died 952.
One thought on “Chapter IV. – A.D. 843-1107, pp.48-58.”