Listing of early rulers of Dál Riata and Scotland and their "accomplishments"
This listing has been compiled from many, often extremely obscure, sources. Historians have their doubts as names, dates and events can not always be verified!
The dates provided underneath are therefore very tentative and at times seem to overlap or completely random. It all has to do with ancient sources, conflicting stories and the fact that history is written by the victors.
I have deliberately used the term 'rulers' as there were undoubtedly not only well-meaning kings among them but also common warlords with a large following using bloody murder and other means of intimidation to boost their inflated ego. Power nearly always corrupts. It still does in spite of a thin veneer of democracy. Some things just never change.
Kings of Dál Riata
1- Fergus Mor Mac Earca c. 498-501
Fergus led the grand exodus from Ireland in order to escape oppression from other tribes, find freedom for his people and help his embattled kin on the fringes of Alba.
2- Domangart mac Fergus 501-507
Son of Fergus. Born around 465 and died at Dunollie Castle in 507. No further details.
3- Comgall mac Domangart 507-538
Son of Domangart. Born 478 and died in 538. No further details.
4- Gabráin mac Domangart 538-558
Son of Domangart and brother to Comgall. For unknown reasons was also called "The Treacherous". Born around 507. Died in battle in 558. Buried at Icolmkill (Isle of Iona). No further details.
5- Conall mac Comgall 558-574
Son of Comgall. It seems he donated Iona to Columba and it is said that his reign was relatively untroubled.
6- Áedán mac Gabráin 574-608
7- Eochaid Buide ‘The Yellow Haired’ 608-629
Son of Áedán mac Gabráin and chosen heir upon the death of his elder brothers. From 627 to 629, he shared power with Connad Cerr, who predeceased him. He died in 630.
Connad Cerr 629
Son of Connall OR Eochaid (not clear). He shared the throne with Eochaid for two years and died at the battle of Fid Eóin in 629.
8- Domnall Brecc ‘The Speckled’ 629-642
9- Ferchar mac Connaid 637-650
Son of Connad. He is the only descendant of Connad Cerr known to have held the kingship of Dál Riata. No further details.
10- Conall Crandomna mac Eochaid 650-660
Son of Eochaid. Succeeded Fergar to a divided kingdom. Shared power with Dúnchad mac Conaing (a cousin) who died in battle against the Picts in 654. Conall died in 660.
11- Domangart mac Domnal 660-673
Son of Domnall Brecc. It seems he finally managed to halt the Pictish incursions, especially around the Isle of Skye.
12- Máel Dúin mac Conaill 673-688
Son of Conall. There is a lot of confusion about this king. Was he a "High King"? Did he rule with his brother Domnall Don? No further details.
13- Domnall Donn 688-695
Son of Conall. Nothing is certain about Domnall. It could be that he ruled together with his brother Máel Dúin mac Conaill or succeeded him in 688. No further details.
14- Ferchar Fota “The Tall” 695-697
Son of Feredach mac Fergusa of Cenél Loairn. Battled all his rivals to obtain the High Kingship but his reign as High King of Dál Riata lasted only two years.
15- Eochaid mac Domangart 697
Son of Domangart. He was killed in 697 by Fiannamail mac Connal.
16- Ainbcellach mac Ferchar 697-698
Son of Ferchar Fota. Exiled to Ireland by Fiannamail mac Conall he reportedly returned to fight his brother Selbach mac Ferchar.
17- Fiannamail mac Conall 698-700
Grandson of Dúnchad mac Conaing (see Conall Crandomna). He exiled Ainbcellach and died shortly afterwards (700) in battle.
18- Selbach mac Ferchar 700-723
Son of Ferchar Fota. He fought battles against rivals and his own brother Ainbcellach. Abdicated in 723, entered a monastery, but was again 'in the field' in 727.
19- Dúngal mac Selbaig 723-726
Son of Selbach. He held the throne for 3 years. Sources claim he kept fighting Eochaid's Cenél nGabráin. Later he fled to Ireland and upon returning in 736 was captured by the Picts.
20- Eochaid mac Echdach 726-733
Son of Eochaid. Not much is known other than his battles with Selbach and Dúngal.
21- Muiredach mac Ainbcellach 733-736
Son of Ainbcellach. Nothing is known for certain as the overall picture is confusing with the different Cenéls and the Picts fighting near endless wars.
22- Eógan mac Muiredach 736-739
Son of Muiredach. Very little is known about this king. During his reign Dál Riata was invaded and conquered by the Picts.
Interrechnum. The Picts rule in Dál Riata
For the next 100 years 'things' got muddled and, looking back through the ages, we get a very 'hazy' view on the different kings, warlords and lines of succession.
23- Aed Find ‘the White’ ??-778
Son of Eochaid. Another king about whom hardly anyything is known. He was the first king after the Pictish conquest so probably Dál Riata was once again "free".
24- Fergus mac Eochaid 778-781
Son of Eochaid. He is mentioned in different sources but still, not much is actually known. Died in 781.
25- Donncoirce (Donn Coirce) 781-792
Nothing is known. He is mentioned but all details are extremely vague.
26- Connall mac Taidg ????
Another rather shadowy king. He seems to have been king of the Picts untill 789 and died in battle in 807. It suggests that Dál Riata was once again dominated (conquered?) by the Picts.
27- Constantin mac Fergusa 789-820
Son of Fergus mac Eochaid, king of the Picts and probably also king of Dál Riata. From here on things get murky as during Viking raids much information was lost.
28- Óengus mac Fergusa 820-834
Son of Fergus mac Eochaid and king of the Picts and Dál Riata.
29- Drust mac Constantine 834-837
Son of Constantin mac Fergusa and therefore nephew of Óengus. It seems that he was king of the Picts and not any longer king of Dál Riata. Who did rule in Dál Riata then?
30- Eóganan mac Óengusa 837-839
Son of Óengus. King of the Picts. Nothing is known other than his final battle against the Vikings in 839.
31- Alpin mac Eochaid 831-834
Probably a son of the sister of Constantin mac Fergusa. Died in 834 in Galloway fighting the Picts.
Kings of Alba / House of Alpin
32- Kenneth I mac Alpin 841-859
Son of Alpin mac Eochaid. Following victory in battle against the marauding Vikings, Kenneth was also accepted as King of the Picts. At a banquet at Scone, Kenneth had the seven Earls of the Scot's kingdom of Dalriada, who might have lead opposition to his claim to be King of Scots and Picts, murdered. That very effectively ended ended the conflict. The murder is popularly known as "MacAlpin's treason".
After a long reign fighting the Angles and Bernicans, Kenneth I died at Forteviot and was buried on the island of Iona.
33- Donald I 859-863
Son of Alpin mac Eochaid. Donald (Domnall MacAlpin) succeeded his brother Kenneth. Killed in battle, against the Vikings at Scone but had no heirs. He was buried on Iona and was succeeded by his nephew Constantine.
34- Constantine I 863-877
Son of Kenneth I mac Alpin and Queen Cinaeth MacDonald. Constantine (Constantín mac Cináeda) was styled as king of the Picts but now is traditionally referred to as king of Scots as many consider Kenneth I to be the first king of Scots. Constantine was faced with repeated attacks from Vikings including the forces of Olaf the White based in Dublin who reportedly took many Albans and Britons as slaves. In 877 Constantine was killed fighting the Vikings at Inverdovat, near Newport-on-Tay, Angus. The throne passed to his brother Aed, as his son was considered too young to be king. He was buried on Iona.
35- Aed ‘Whitefoot’ 877-878
Son of Kenneth I mac Alpin and Queen Cinaeth MacDonald. Aedh (Áed mac Cináeda) was king for barely a year before he was killed by his cousin Giric at Strathallan, North of Stirling. He was buried on Iona.
36- Eochaid joint with Giric 878-889
Grandson of Kenneth MacAlpin, and son of the Strathclyde ruler Rhun whose father had been slain by Constantine. Eochaid ruled jointly with Giric until they were expelled in 889 by Duncan II, ending the influence of Strathclyde which then became a Scottish sub-kingdom. Eochaid was either killed or exiled. Some reports have his burial place as the mound of Cunning hillock near Inverurie.
37- Donald II Dasachtach 889-900
Son of Constantine I. Donald (Domnall mac Causantín) was king of the Picts and the last to be officially named that. He succeeded Eochaid and Giric and annexed Strathclyde, establishing himself as King of the Scots. He had some success against the Vikings in the West, but the North was dominated by Viking Sigurd the Mighty based in Orkney. Donald was killed in 900, possibly murdered, at Dunnottar near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. He was buried on Iona.
38- Constantine II 900-943
Son of Aed. Constantine II was the first official king of Alba and the first Scottish King to hold power south of the Forth, but his reign was dominated by Viking raids and northern conquests of the Wessex Kings Athelstan and Edmund of England. In 904 he defeated Vikings at the Battle of Streathearn.
An alliance of Constantine, Owen of Strathclyde and Olaf the Viking king of Dublin was defeated by Aethelstan at Brunanburh in 937. In 943 Edmund established control over Northumbria and extended his rule into southern Scotland. Having been defeated twice and proclaiming he could not handle the English forces Constantine abdicated and lived out the rest of his life as a monk in the monastery at St. Andrews. Eleven years later he died childless, passing the throne to his 1st cousin.
39- Malcolm I 943-954
Son of Donald II. Malcolm (Máel Coluim mac Domnaill) became king when Constantine abdicated to become monk. He concluded a deal with Edmund of England to retain sovereignty over Strathcylde and Cumbria which Edmund had conquered in return for defending northern England from the Vikings. Malcolm’s battles took him south of Newcastle against Olaf Sihtricsson who was attempting to regain Northumbria and expel Erik Bloodaxe from York. However Malcolm was killed not by Vikings but defending the North of his kingdom by men of Moray at Fetteresso, near Aberdeen. He was succeeded by his cousin Indulf.
40- Indulf 954-962
Son of Constantine II. Indulf (Ildulb mac Causantín) had his name from old Norse Hildulfr, and his sons had Norse names Olaf and Culen. He was sub-king of Strathclyde during Malcolm I’s reign and became king when Malcolm was killed. During his reign the influence of the Scots was extended into Lothian, and he briefly occupied Edinburgh from the Northumbrians.
He was killed in 962 in battle at Invercullen near Aberdeen during Viking challenges for Moray. His legacy is forgotten and does not live on. He is rarely even mentioned now. He is buried in Iona.
41- Dubh 962-967
Son of Malcolm I. Dubh mac Mhaoil Chaluim (Duff) became king when Indulf was slain. His rule was challenged by Indulf’s son Culen in the battle at Duncrub, Perthshire.
Dubh was driven north where legend has him as being kidnapped by supporters of Culen and his murdered body discovered in a ditch at Forres, Kinross on the banks of Loch Leven. His burial place has been lost and no one knows the exact place of his burial although it was most likely in 967 just after his death and in Iona.
42- Culen 967-971
Son of Indulf. About the actual reign of Culen (Cuilén mac Ildulb) little is known. According to various sources, he and his brother, Eochaid, were slain by Britons. Some sources identify Cuilén's killer as Rhydderch ap Dyfnwal, a man whose daughter had been abducted and raped by the king. Rhydderch was evidently a man of eminent standing, and seems to have been a son of Dyfnwal ab Owain, King of Strathclyde, and could have possibly ruled the Cumbrian Kingdom of Strathclyde at the time of Cuilén's death.
43- Kenneth II 971-995
Son of Malcolm I. Kenneth II (Cináed mac Maíl Coluim) became King when Culen was killed, but faced a challenge from Culen’s brother Olaf. The challenge was ended when Kenneth had Olaf killed in 977.
Kenneth submitted to King Edgar of England at Chester in 973 and in return was granted kingship of Lothian. He pushed the borders south into territory previous occupied by the Northumbrians. He was said to be killed near Fettercairn by Fenella, daughter of the Mormar of Angus, in revenge for killing her son.
44- Constantine III 995-997
Son of Culen. Constantine III succeeded to the crown after the murder of his cousin, Kenneth II. He reigned for just 18 months before he was killed at Rathinveramon near Scone by Kenneth III.
45- Kenneth III 997-1005
Son of Dubh. Kenneth and his son Giric were killed in battle at Monzievaird, Perth, in 1005 by his cousin Malcolm II. This rivalry contributed to the feud which resulted in Duncan, grandson of Malcolm, being killed in 1040 by Macbeth who had married Kenneth’s grand daughter Gruoch (Lady Macbeth).
46- Malcolm II Foranach ("The destroyer") 1005-1034
Son of Kenneth II. Malcolm (Máel Coluim mac Cináeda), became king after the battle at Monzievaird. His daughter Bethroc married Crínán, Abbot of Dunkeld, and his daughter Donalda married Finlay MacRory, King of Moray. Malcolm really stands out as a crafty and wily survivor in an age where kings did not stay on their throne very long.
Malcolm’s early raids into Northumbria in 1016 were defeated by Uhtred the Bold at Durham, however he defeated a force of English and Vikings at Carham, and extended Scottish rule into Lothian and Northumbrian lands down to Berwick. In 1032 King Cnut King of England secured the southern part of Northumbria for England settling the border between Scotland and northern England.
Malcolm had no son so he had the grandson of Kenneth III murdered to ensure that his daughter Bethoc’s son Duncan (47) became heir to the throne. Malcolm himself died from battle injuries at Glamis Castle in 1034 and was buried on the isle of Iona.
47- Duncan I 1034-1040
Grandson of Malcolm II. In 1039, Duncan led a large Scots army south to besiege Durham, but the expedition ended in disaster. The following year he led an army north into Moray, Macbeth's domain, apparently on a punitive expedition. There he was killed in action, at Bothnagowan, now Pitgaveny, near Elgin, by the men of Moray led by Macbeth, probably on 14 August 1040. He is thought to have been buried at Elgin before later relocation to the island of Iona.
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