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Picts and Scots

T. M. Charles-Edwards
The Innes Review, Volume 59, Number 2, Autumn 2008, pp. 168-188 (Review)

Published by Edinburgh University Press

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The Innes Review vol. 59 no. 2 (Autumn 2008) 168188 DOI: 10.3366/E0020157X08000279

Review article
T. M. Charles-Edwards

Picts and Scots

A review of Alex Woolf, From Pictland to Alba 78910701
Of all the periods of Scottish history, 7891070 is the most obscure as it is one of the most formative; for that very reason Alex Woolfs success in distilling an intelligible and credible narrative makes this book a triumph. The poverty of evidence, so often a handicap, is for him an opportunity: it makes it possible to take the reader into his condence as he seeks to weigh up the value of each witness. In evaluating his sources, he is willing to see, and to encourage his reader to see, the merits of rival interpretations; and at the same time he has the capacity to perceive how, if one only looked at some piece of evidence in a new way, the whole historical landscape would change, often for the better.2 The book is primarily a political narrative of North Britain. Modern Scotland embraces not just what, from c. 900, contemporaries called Scotland or Alba but also part of the English kingdom of Northumbria, the British kingdom of Cumbria or Strathclyde (earlier Dumbarton), and the Western and Northern Isles controlled for most of the period by Vikings. In Woolfs hands, this transforms what might otherwise have been the tyranny of the modern political map into an opportunity to rise above the history of one nation. In this way he exploits the peculiar interest of what would eventually become Scotland: the interplay between the ve peoples of North Britain. The scope of the book covering Picts, Gaels, English, Britons and Scandinavians is such that Woolf needs to set North Britain in the context of the whole of Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. This is particularly true of Britain, since the relationship between North Britain and the new West Saxon kingdom of the English forms another important thread in the narrative. The discussion of the Scandinavian background to the Viking presence in North Britain is also exceedingly helpful. Most histories of Britain in the early medieval period have placed the southern English in the foreground, with the peoples of North Britain relegated to a hazy distance. Woolfs book can be enthusiastically recommended as a corrective.

1 The New Edinburgh History of Scotland, vol. 2, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2I

2007. am very grateful to Arkady Hodge and Fiona Edmonds for reading a draft and saving me from errors of substance and of expression.



One central issue is raised by the title: why was it that a Pictland ourishing in the eighth century gave way to an increasingly Gaelic Alba by the tenth? The importance of the issue is evident: of the four peoples that Bede described as inhabiting Britain in his day Picts, English, Britons, and Gaels only one, the Picts, failed to survive into the relatively well-documented twelfth century. The traditional answer, promoted since the eleventh century, at least, is that the change was initiated by a conquest ascribed to Kenneth mac Alpin, Cined mac Alpn. He founded a new dynasty, called Clann Chineda meic Alpn in a medieval Irish collection of pedigrees. In essence, Woolf rejects most of this narrative; instead, he follows A. A. M. Duncan in suggesting that the crucial change occurred a generation later, with Giric mac Dngaile and Giric was not a member of Clann Chineda.3 Part of the problem arises from the different perspectives inherent in distinct genres of text, part also from the plain fact that, while contemporaries may not appreciate the signicance of change, later sources are often guided by the preoccupations of their own time and so distort the meaning of earlier events. In this case, the later sources derive from a period after the lands north of Forth and east of Druim Alban had been given a new Gaelic identity; and one element of that change was a distortion of history by which a Gaelic Alba was projected back into a distant past. The Synchronisms of Irish Kings present a single sequence of kings of Alba from the legendary origins of Gaelic kingship in North Britain onwards to the kings of Clann Chineda.4 The contemporary sources, however, were generally external to North Britain and thus may not have comprehended local conditions. It has recently been written of the evidence available for the period covered by From Pictland to Alba that For a source to pass the basic test of acceptability as a witness . . . there needs to be good cause to regard it as written by someone in Scotland or with links to Scotland at or near the time the recorded events occurred.5 Fortunately, Woolf has not limited himself to material sanctioned by such a draconian pronouncement. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or the Chronicle of Ireland would not pass the test of Scottishness; and even if the latter was written at Armagh in the ninth century which is questionable links between Armagh and
A. M. Duncan, The Kingship of the Scots, 8421292. Succession and Independence (Edinburgh, 2002), 15. 4 Rudolf Thurneysen, Die Synchronismen der irischen Knige, Zeitschrift fr celtische Philologie 19 (1933), 8199. 5 Dauvit Broun, Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot, in Exile and Homecoming. Papers from the Fifth Australian Conference of Celtic Studies, ed. Pamela ONeill (Sydney, 2005), 23475, at 237; also idem, Alba as Britain after 900 and the Pictish antecedents of the kingdom of the Scots, in his Scottish Independence and the Idea of Britain. From the Picts to Alexander III (Edinburgh, 2007), 71 97, at 72.
3 A.


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Scotland can rarely be specied;6 and, while one may give reason to think that much of the Scottish Chronicle was derived from texts close to the events, the nature of the textual transmission can only be surmised. And, moreover, what is the Scotland intended? If it is the modern country, it is unacceptably anachronistic. If it is just what came to be called Alba, is it really so clear that a witness from, say, Govan should be ruled out of court if we cannot document precise connections with Alba? The truth is that outsiders may sometimes be better witnesses than those directly involved. Woolfs readiness to write about North Britain as a whole and his liberation from a narrowly Scottish approach helps to give this book its high quality. Irish and English sources are united in implying a change in the identity of what had been the kingdom of the Picts c. 900. In the A version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle this is marked by a shift in the meaning of Scots, Scottas: in 891, Old English Scottas was still a name for the Irish; but in 920 the king of the Scottas and the people of the Scottas are said to have chosen Edward the Elder as father and lord. It is evident from the other peoples named in this same entry that the Scottas in question were inhabitants of what had been Pictland and, hence, that the kingdom of the Scots had replaced the kingdom of the Picts. The people had been the Peohtas, Picts, in 875, but from 920 they were the Scots; the link between the Scottas of 891 and the Scottas of 920 was an inherited Gaelic identity. In the Chronicle of Ireland the change appears in a different form: there Cined mac Alpn and his sons were described as kings of the Picts. With the rst obit of one of his grandsons, in 900, that has changed to king of Alba; and Alba, previously Britain, remains the name of the kingdom in Irish sources from that date, while its people are named Albanaig or Fir Alban the men of Alba. Hence, the Irish source ceases to call the kings kings of the Picts at very much the same date as the English source starts calling them kings of the Scots. Moreover, the Scottish Chronicle indicates a similar change: the kingdom ruled by Cined and his sons is called Pictavia; it is still Pictavia near the beginning of the reign of his grandson, Domnall mac Constantn, but in the third year of his successor, Constantn mac eda, it has become Albania. The agreement of the Scottish Chronicle with Irish and, though in a different form, English sources indicates that it was using some contemporary material for this period.
6 The

link from Dunkeld through Mel Brigte mac Tornin to the Chronicle of Ireland, crucial for Professor Brouns argument on Alba, Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot?, 262, Alba as Britain, 856, is a reasonable speculation about what might have been, but it has not established good cause to specify a link between the Chronicle of Ireland and Alba. Still less does it explain the general Irish use of Alba, from c. 900, for what had been Pictland.



It has recently been argued, however, that the change from king of the Picts to king of Alba signied little because Alba may have meant, as well as Britain, Pictland.7 Essential to this claim has been, rst, an argument that the Chronicle of Ireland adopted the new term because Dunkeld (the likely source at this point for the Scottish Chronicle) adopted it, and this preference was conveyed through Mel Brigte mac Tornin, heir of both Patrick and Columba; and, secondly, a decision to discuss the evidence of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle only later and without making any connection. The rst is, as we have seen, conceivable within its own narrow terms but no more, while it leaves unexplained the general adoption of the new terminology across all Irish sources. It is hard to see how the second could be defended. The change in the names of the people and kingdom occurred even though Clann Chineda ruled before the change and after it. Although the name Clann Chineda occurs in a revised version of a collection of pedigrees itself ascribed by Woolf to the early eleventh century (p. 226), it nonetheless reects accurately the nature of dynastic succession from the second half of the ninth to the end of the tenth century. The alternation between two branches of the kindred descended from Cined, one stemming from a son called Custantn or Constantn, the other from a son called ed, is helpfully displayed by Woolf on pp. 2234. Clann Chineda was thus what the Irish genealogists and lawyers called the rgrad, the royals. The genealogical collections found in manuscripts from the twelfth century onwards regard Clann Chineda as an offshoot of Cenl nGabrin, namely what had been the principal ruling kindred of Dl Riata, the Gaelic kingdom that had spanned the North Channel, uniting the north-eastern corner of Ireland with the lands now included in Argyll.8 There is serious doubt concerning the exact connection between Clann Chineda and Cenl nGabrin proposed by the genealogies (which are not always in agreement), but there is corroboration for the notion that there was such a link.9 First, a marginal verse in the Annals of Ulster describes ed mac Cineda (who died as king of the Picts in 878) as ed from the lands of Kintyre, namely from the heartland of Cenl
7 Broun,

Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot?, 2613, Alba as Britain, 857; compare Woolf, From Pictland to Alba, 1256. 8 Dauvit Broun, The Irish Identity of the Kingdom of the Scots in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (Woodbridge, 1999), 17493. 9 Much may depend on whether one can emend the pedigree dating from the time of Causantn mac Culuin (d. 997), John Bannerman, Studies in the History of Dalriada (Edinburgh, 1974), 65, on the basis of the version of the pedigree in the Poppleton MS and an entry in the Annals of Tigernach, T. M. Charles-Edwards, The Chronicle of Ireland, 2 vols (Liverpool, 2006), s.a. 733.5. For different views, see ibid., i, 19; M. O. Anderson, Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland (Edinburgh, 1973), 35, 189.


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nGabrin.10 As noted by Woolf (pp. 11617) the origin of the verse is likely to be the monastery of Moville in Ulster. Secondly, part of the Notulae in the Book of Armagh, written for Torbach, abbot of Armagh between 807 and 808, runs as follows:11
The twelve sons of Erc. Fergus Mr. Mac Nisse.

The signicance of these three notes emerges, as is usual for the Notulae, from a comparison with the somewhat later Tripartite Life (the Notulae offer sequences of highly abbreviated references to a full version of the Life of St Patrick very similar to, but not identical with, the Tripartite Life). There we have in succession brief passages on (a) Mac Nisse, the patron saint of Connor (in Dl nAraidi), who is said to have learnt his psalms when in the company of Patrick, (b) a statement that Patrick was welcomed (in Dl Riata) by the twelve sons of Erc, and (c) a conversation between Patrick and one of the twelve sons, namely Fergus Mr (ancestor of two royal kindreds in Dl Riata, Cenl nGabrin and Cenl Comgaill). In the Tripartite Life, therefore, Mac Nisse seems to have been transposed from after the story of Patrick and Fergus Mr to before the welcome given by the twelve sons of Erc, but otherwise it is unlikely that the narrative behind the brief indications given in the Notulae has been changed signicantly in the Tripartite Life.12 This is because there is enough to indicate that the whole conforms to one of the standard patterns of Patrician hagiography: the saint meets a group of brothers from the ruling kindred, is favourably treated (or especially favourably treated) by one of them, and promises that he will be the ancestor of the later kings, the rgrad of the genealogists. Since, however, Fergus Mr was the ancestor of Cenl nGabrin and Cenl Comgaill, and since the story was an addition to the late seventh-century narrative found in Trechn, the note in the Book of Armagh implies that either Cenl nGabrin or Cenl Comgaill was the rgrad in the early ninth century (or conceivably
10 The Annals of Ulster (to 1131), ed. and trans. Sen Mac Airt and Gearid Mac Niocaill (Dublin, 1983), 3323; the aicill rhyme in the rst stanza between atha and Macha(e) is characteristic of Middle Irish and would not, in the ninth century, be acceptable in strict verse, but such rhymes were allowed in a less formal style, as in The Scholar and His Cat, in a manuscript of the second half of the ninth century. On the signicance of these two quatrains, compare Patrick Sims-Williams, Heroic need and literary narrative: a caveat from ninth-century Wales, Welsh History Review 17 (19945), 1120. 11 Notulae, no. 10, Bethu Phtraic. The Tripartite Life of Patrick, ed. Kathleen Mulchrone (Dublin, 1939), 97; that sons is understood after twelve emerges from the Tripartite Life; Ludwig Bielers edition, The Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh (Dublin, 1979), 180, has m(acc) Nise, perhaps not appreciating that mac was part of the name of the patron saint and founder of Connor. 12 Mac Nisse in the Notulae was not the alternative name for Fergus Mr found in Senchas Fer nrenn: Bannerman, Studies in the History of Dalriada, 41, line 11.



it might have embraced both kindreds, but this is much less likely). In its historical context, the reference is very likely to have been to Cenl nGabrin. The date of the Book of Armagh lies in the middle of what is, in our other sources, the most obscure period in the history of what had been Dl Riata; indeed, the name Dl Riata does not occur in the Irish annals between 792 and 986.13 As Woolf notes (p. 62), it looks as if a later editor had to ll out this section of the Dl Riatan list from the Pictish list. Whether this is correct or not, the evidence of the Book of Armagh indicates that this problem arose from the state of the regnal list available to later generations rather than from the disappearance or collapse of Cenl nGabrin itself. The latter remained important enough to deserve special attention from the apostle of the Gaels both in the Notulae and the Tripartite Life. To the question posed by Woolf (p. 96), Is it possible that Cined was a Pict?, the answer has to be Not unless the surviving evidence, both ninth-century and later, is wholly misleading.14 What Patrick is made to say in the Tripartite Life reects a situation that cannot be much later than 808. It is part of a short dialogue between the saint and Fergus mac Eirc:15
Fergus Mr mac Eirc said to Patrick: If my brothers were to count me in when dividing their land, I would make an offering to you; and Patrick offered that share to Bishop Olcn, namely Airther Maige [the main episcopal church of the Irish portion of Dl Riata]. Patrick said to Fergus: Although your brothers do not think you important today, it is you who will be king; it will be from you that kings will be descended till Doomsday in this land and (ruling) over Fortriu. And that was accomplished in the person of edn mac Gabrin who took Albu by force.

One should distinguish here between what Patrick is made to say and the statement about the fullment of his prophecy. That the future glory of Ferguss descendants lay across the North Channel in Britain is very likely to be reected in the Notulae, since it was known that Dl Riata in Ireland was subject to serious invasion from Dl nAraidi from the mid-seventh century.16 The presupposition behind what Patrick promises
evidence of the Notulae and Tripartite Life is also signicant for assessing the case put forward by Dauvit Broun, Pictish kings 761839: integration with Dl Riata or separate development?, in The St Andrews Sarcophagus. A Pictish Masterpiece and its International Connections, ed. Sally M. Foster (Dublin, 1998), 7183. 14 The proposal to make Cined a Pict derives from Professor D. N. Dumville, The Churches of North Britain in the First Viking-Age, Fifth Whithorn Lecture 1996 (Whithorn, 1997), 356, and has been maintained by Broun, Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot?, 2648. 15 Bethu Phtraic, ed. Mulchrone, 97. 16 Bethu Phtraic, ed. Mulchrone, 99.
13 The


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to Fergus Mr is, however, that Fortriu was still the dominant power in North Britain, a situation which, as we shall see, is unlikely to have endured beyond the Viking defeat of the men of Fortriu in 839.17 On the other hand, the reference to edn mac Gabrin may have entered the text later. Moreover, we cannot be sure whether Albu in this sentence referred to what had been Pictland or, more probably, to something more like the North Britain over which engus mac Forgusso had enjoyed an hegemony from at least 741 to 750.18 One of the striking features of the period up to the defeat of Fortriu by the Vikings in 839 is that the regnal succession practices in the kingdom of the Picts had changed to the extent that a son could succeed a father.19 Scholars of an earlier generation, and also Benjamin Hudson in this, were inclined to associate this change with growing Gaelic inuence on the kingdom of the Picts and even with a change of dynasty.20 Both they and Woolf thus reject the testimony of what is the most important source from within Alba, a source which claims that Cined mac Alpn conquered Pictland. This is the chronicle which has been called The Scottish Chronicle. Woolf, however, adopts the name proposed by Professor Dumville, The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, even though one reason why it is objectionable is noted.21 One of the
17 F. J. Byrne and Padraig Francis, Two Lives of Saint Patrick, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 124 (1994), 5117, at 7, detect a major chronological horizon in the Tripartite Life in the rst half of the ninth century, when the main substance of the text assumed its nal form, although there was subsequent minor updating and, probably, further translation from Latin into Irish. Broun, Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot?, 2645, treats the evidence of the Tripartite Life as coming from the later tenth century, but without attending to the Notulae, to the argument of Byrne and Francis, or to the signicance of the use of Fortriu. 18 T. M. Charles-Edwards, The Continuation of Bede, s.a. 750: high-kings, kings of Tara and Bretwaldas, in Seanchas: Studies in Early and Medieval Irish Archaeology, History and Literature in Honour of Francis J. Byrne, ed. Alfred P. Smyth (Dublin, 1999), 13745. 19 On this, see now Nicholas Evans, Royal succession and kingship among the Picts, IR 59 (2008), 148, at 438. 20 H. M. Chadwick, Early Scotland. The Picts, the Scots and the Welsh of Southern Scotland (Cambridge, 1949), 12732; Anderson, Kings and Kingship, 18895, and Dalriada and the creation of the kingdom of the Scots, in Ireland in Early Mediaeval Europe. Studies in Memory of Kathleen Hughes, ed. Dorothy Whitelock, Rosamond McKitterick and David Dumville (Cambridge, 1982), 10632; John Bannerman, The Scottish takeover of Pictland and the relics of Columba, IR 48 (1997), 2744, reprinted in Spes Scotorum, Hope of Scots. Saint Columba, Iona and Scotland, ed. Dauvit Broun and Thomas Owen Clancy (Edinburgh, 1999), 7194; M. Miller, The last century of Pictish succession, Scottish Studies 23 (1979), 3967; Benjamin T. Hudson, Kings of Celtic Scotland (Westport, CT, 1994), 2933. 21 Dumville, The Churches of North Britain, 36; idem, The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, in Kings, Clerics and Chronicles in Scotland, 5001297, ed. Simon Taylor (Dublin, 2000), 7386. For the objection, Woolf, From Pictland to Alba, 912.



characteristics of this text, as we have seen, is that it regards the kingdom as Pictauia, Pictland, until the earlier part of the reign of Domnall mac Causantn, who died in 900, but adopts the name Albania, Alba, very early in the reign of his successor. Even though the text as it was copied in the fourteenth century is an explicit adherent of the claim that Cined mac Alpn gained power at the expense of the Picts, it does not use the later name of the kingdom until much the same date as our two external and contemporary sources made their changes. The two titles of the chronicle, old and new, are thus both subject to the same objection, namely that they pass over this change c. 900 as if it never happened; but the new title is worse than the old in that it makes an unjustied claim to a superior accuracy. The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba is also open to objection on another front: the term Albania is only used once in the entire text as we have it. The term Scotti, on the other hand, is used ten times, and moreover in the rst reign as in the last. The older title, The Scottish Chronicle, is thus on two counts a more accurate indication of the scope of the text. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the new title was used in this book, and Scottish historians would do well to abandon it. The unity of the chronicle is, rst, that it uses as a frame a list of kings from Cined mac Alpn (d. 858) to Cined mac Mal Cholaim (d. 995) and, secondly, that its contents are markedly more king-centred than most contemporary Irish chronicles. It is, therefore, fair to call it a chronicle of kings, but it is as Woolf notes (p. 119) with one exception, a chronicle of the kings from a particular dynasty, Clann Chineda, providing one includes not just Cined himself but also his brother, Domnall; and the dynasty is treated as Scottish even though the kingdom was rst Pictavia and later Alba. One of the merits of Woolfs treatment of the period is that he uses the Scottish Chronicle but does so with discrimination. The problem is that we only have the text in a fourteenth-century copy and it is likely to have been edited between its late tenth-century end-point and the date of the manuscript. The Scottish Chronicle has the form of a plateful of twelve sandwiches, some little, some larger. The two pieces of bread are, rst, a statement of the form, Cined son of Alpn reigned for sixteen years, and, secondly, there is usually, but not always, a concluding sentence about the kings death; for example, He died in the palace of Cinnbelathoir on the Ides of April. The combination of the name of the king, the length of his reign, and a brief record of his death, is a feature sometimes found in Irish and Scottish regnal lists: some contain only the name, some the name and the length of the reign, but others include a third element, the death of the king, and even a fourth, the place of his burial.22 The sandwich shape is, then, the norm in the Scottish
22 Compare Do Fhlaithesaib Hrend iar Cretem (The Book of Leinster, ed. O. J. Bergin, R. I. Best, M. A. OBrien and A. OSullivan, 6 vols (Dublin, 195483), i, 949) where


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Chronicle sufciently so, indeed, as to justify the inference that the text was built up on the basis of just such an extended regnal list: the pieces of bread were to hand and then the lling was inserted. However, that does not mean that the lling was, in itself, any later than the bread. We can see as much from a comparison with a similar regnal chronicle, Do Fhlaithesaib Hrend iar Cretem in the Book of Leinster. There, the frame was a regnal list of Tara (also found in other places), but the lling was derived from a set of annals belonging to the Clonmacnois version of the Chronicle of Ireland. Although that version incorporated some later interpolations, the great bulk of the material comprised annal entries recorded close to the date of the event. Moreover, the regnal list of Tara the frame was derived from a secondary version incorporating a signicant error.23 Woolf is thus wrong to claim (p. 91) that As soon as we recognise that the basic chronological structure was a regnal list then we should immediately become aware of the fact that all the material other than the kings names, patronymics (where supplied) and reign lengths are secondary and are not the result of contemporary annalistic recording. The frame is just as much derived from something else (a normal regnal list) as is the lling.24 On the other hand, Woolf rightly notes that a feature of the Scottish Chronicle is that it uses for the Vikings a Latinised form Danari, itself derived from the Irish Danair; yet that name is never used in the contemporary Irish annals until the late tenth century.25 The intended readership of the Scottish Chronicle appears to be pan-Gaelic and scholarly: this is strongly suggested by the way it sometimes anchors its chronology by means of well-known Irish events: the deaths of Mel Sechnaill mac Mele Ruanaid, ed Findliath, and Cormac mac Cuilennin. It is thus signicant that the term used for the Vikings differs from contemporary practice in Ireland. Yet it is also signicant that the deaths of ed Findliath, Niall Glndub, and Flann Sinna are recorded in
the chronological frame comes rst and the events within the frame second, for example (p. 95), Mael Coba [reigned] for three years until he fell in the battle of Sliab Toad at the hands of Subne Mend. The battle of Odba in which Conall Leg Breg fell . . . 23 T. M. Charles-Edwards, Early Christian Ireland (Cambridge, 2000), 485. 24 The opposite line, that the lling came rst, only later being inserted into the frame, was taken by Hudson in his edition, The Scottish Chronicle, Scottish Historical Review [SHR] 77 (1998), 12961, at 1337, who started with annals, which he attributed to Dunkeld up to the mid-tenth century and subsequently further east, probably St Andrews. Dauvit Brouns statement (Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot?, 237 n. 10, Alba as Britain, 89 n. 4; similarly Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot?, 263 n. 96, Alba as Britain, 96 n. 89) that Hudson failed to distinguish between the existing text and its sources, is unfair. 25 The Annals of Ulster (to AD 1131), ed. Sen Mac Airt and Gearid Mac Niocaill (Dublin, 1983) [hereafter AU] 986. 2, 3; 987. 1, 3; 990. 1. On these Danari, see Woolf, From Pictland to Alba, 94, 21718.



the way contemporary Irish annals recorded them, not in the way Middle Irish historians usually did so. In Ireland, compilers of regnal lists of Tara were faced with a superuity of kings bearing the same names. Cenl nogain posed particular problems, since its kings tended to be called either ed mac Nill or Niall mac eda. Hence epithets were widely used: Niall Frossach was distinguished from Niall Caille and from Niall Glndub; ed Alln was distinguished from ed Oirdnide and from ed Findliath. These were retrospective names: Niall Caille acquired his epithet from the River Calann in which he was drowned. The Irish annals in their original state, however, called both Niall Caille and Niall Glndub simply Niall mac eda, and similarly both ed Oirdnide and ed Findliath were called ed mac Nill. The Scottish Chronicle agrees with the annals against the Middle Irish regnal lists: in the reigns of Constantn mac Cineda and Eochaid son of Rhun ed Findliath is Aed lius Niel; in that of Constantn mac eda Niall Glndub is Niall lius Ede and likewise Flann Sinna is Flann lius Mael Sechnaill (MS: Sethnaill). It may even be possible to defend the use of Danari. Woolf notes the use of Dene by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle but argues that, if English naming practices were inuencing the Scottish Chronicle, one would expect Dani rather than Danari. Yet, if the Scottish Chronicle were also inuenced by being composed by clerics who were Gaelic in speech, as seems very likely, Danari would be the natural Latin form to choose. Woolfs preferred period when the kingship became denitely Gaelic in political stance is, as we have noted, the reign of Giric mac Dngaile. The main basis for this suggestion is supplied by two sources. The rst is a sentence in the Scottish Chronicles account of the reign of Domnall mac Alpn, 858 862:26
In his time the Goedeli together with their king established the rights and laws of ed son of Eochaid at Forteviot.

The second is the entry on Giric mac Dngaile (878?889?) in a family of regnal lists:27
ed mac Cineda was killed in battle in Strathalun by Girig son of Dngal and he was buried on the island of Iona. Girig mac Dngaile reigned for twelve years and died at Dn Duirn and was buried on the island of Iona. He subjugated to himself the whole of Ireland and almost the whole of Anglia; and he was the rst who granted liberty to the Scottish Church, which was under servitude up to that time in accordance with the custom and habits of the Picts.
The Scottish Chronicle, 148 (text), 153 (translation); Anderson, Kings and Kingship, 250. 27 Anderson, Kings and Kingship, 267 and cf. 4950.
26 Hudson,


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Woolf sees the rst item as evidence for a separate Gaelic people with their own king within the kingdom of the Picts: Domnall mac Alpn might have been of Gaelic descent, but his kingship was Pictish; he was not king of the Gaels. ed mac Echdach, however, is likely to be the king of Dl Riata who died in 778, ed Finn mac Echdach. One theory about what may have happened is that an edict (rechtge, cin) enacted by ed was re-enacted about a century later, no longer in Dl Riata but in Forteviot in Strathearn, a royal palace in the heart of Pictavia.28 Woolfs suggestion is that while Cined mac Alpn may well have been king of Dl Riata as well as king of the Picts there is no reason to assume that Domnall would have succeeded to both kingships (p. 105). Furthermore, he also suggests that the rights and laws of ed mac Echdach were the conditions on which Dl Riata accepted submission to the king of the Picts. If this were so, the subjection would be being renewed by the Gaels and their king, but with this difference, that the submission was made in Southern Pictland, at Forteviot, that is, at Domnalls own palace. It would refer to some such text as those that survive for the Airgialla and the Munster kingdoms in Ireland. The real meaning of the sentence would be then very different from how, given the context, it must have been understood by the readers of the Scottish Chronicle once that had attained something like its present form. For them, a Gaelic political and military dominance was already securely in place in Pictavia, so that it would be inconceivable that they would take it as representing the subjection of the Gaels to the Picts. Yet, since the Scottish Chronicle may embody a Gaelicising edition of material that was, in origin, less partisan, it is permissible to suggest meanings for particular passages incompatible with their present contexts. With this idea of a Gaelic subjection to a king of the Picts in mind, however, we can consider Girig mac Dngaile: he is said by the regnal lists to have killed his predecessor, another ed, ed mac Cineda; and there is no evidence that Girig belonged to Clann Chineda, so that his reign appears to have been an intermission in their long period of power. In the Scottish Chronicle he is not deemed king but only fosterson to Eochaid son of Rhun (of the royal kindred of Dumbarton and Strathclyde) and his king-maker.29 One attraction of thinking that the kingdom might have been transformed into Alba by Girig could be his relationship to Eochaid son of Rhun: as Professor Broun has shown, Alba was of uctuating territorial extent even after its fundamental
28 T. M. Charles-Edwards, The Early Medieval Gaelic Lawyer, Quiggin Pamphlets on the Sources of Mediaeval Gaelic History 4 (Cambridge, 1999), 59. 29 Ordinator (Hudson, The Scottish Chronicle, 149; Anderson, Kings and Kingship, 251) for which cf. oirdnithir in Crth Gablach, ed. D. A. Binchy (Dublin, 1941), line 494, and the role ascribed to Maine mac Nill, Bethu Phtraic, ed. Mulchrone, lines 9612.



meaning had shifted from Britain, perhaps via North Britain, to Scotia.30 Again, one might appeal to work by Professor Herbert, according to which territorial terms such as riu and Albu (later Alba) gained favour in the ninth century because, in the Viking era, it was necessary for major kings to appeal to the loyalty of more than one ethnic group.31 Alba thus had the potential to include the Britons of the new Strathclyde created after the siege of Dumbarton in 870 as well as the Picts and Gaels of the former Pictavia; and, if that were the case, Eochaid son of Rhun might even have been the overlord for a time of this new Alba, even though his base remained Strathclyde. So the ruler of what would become Scotia would have been Girig, even though he, as ordinator, elevated Eochaid to his new status as overlord of Alba. The apparently fanciful statement in the regnal list, He (Girig) subjugated to himself the whole of Ireland and almost the whole of Anglia; and he was the rst who granted liberty to the Scottish Church, which was under servitude up to that time in accordance with the custom and habits of the Picts, might be based on this concept of an Alba that could include Gaels, Picts, English (from the northern parts of Northumbria), and Britons of Strathclyde. The idea of such a grouping together of northern peoples might have been a response, overambitious no doubt, to two critical events, the battle in 867 in which the Vikings defeated the Northumbrian kings at York and the siege in which the Viking kings, Amlab and mar, took Dumbarton in 870, and returned to Dublin in 871 with a vast train of captives, English and Britons and Picts.32 The territorial extent of Girigs power, according to the regnal list, would then reect what, in reality, was not a series of conquests, but a series of alliances against the Vikings. While the two persons, Eochaid and Girig, who, perhaps, created this aspirational political construction perished together, their ambition lived on in the very name Alba, a term for North Britain that harked back to the days when Unust son of Wurgust shared an overlordship over all Britain with his southern ally, thelbald, king of Mercia. Woolf, it must be emphasised, does not go this far; and, indeed, there are weaknesses in this speculation that render it dubious. First, it is far from clear that the Gaels with their king is to be understood as
30 Dauvit Broun, The origin of Scottish identity, in Nations, Nationalism and Patriotism

in the European Past, ed. Claus Bjrn, Alexander Grant and Keith J. Stringer (Copenhagen, 1994), 3555, esp. 467. Similarly, T. F. ORahilly, Early Irish History and Mythology (Dublin, 1946), 387. 31 Mire Herbert, Sea-divided Gaels? Constructing relationships between Irish and Scots c. 8001169, in Britain and Ireland 9001300, ed. Brendan Smith (Cambridge, 1999), 8797; eadem, R irenn, R Alban: kingship and identity in the ninth and tenth centuries, in Kings, Clerics and Chronicles, ed. Taylor, 6272. 32 AU 867, 870, 871.


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referring to a king other than Domnall mac Alpn. A natural response to this sentence in its context would be to take it as another example of those descriptions of law-making that emphasise a consensus between king and people in the making of law, a law that is, very often, not the law of all the kings subjects but of the dominant ethnic group: the Franks in Gaul or the Lombards in the Lombard kingdom or the West Saxons in Ines kingdom. Some descriptions highlight the role of the king, some give more weight to that of the people, as in the prologue to the law of Wihtred, king of Kent. Yet others put them together, as in the edicts of Childebert II, king of the Franks, where the one edict is both a royal decree and an agreement between the king and his leudes.33 As we have seen above, some such understanding of the sentence must be what it meant in its present context: there, the Gaels were already understood to be the dominant group in the kingdom of the Picts, just as the Franks had been dominant in a kingdom that comprised both Francia and Romania. Secondly, an uncomfortable feature of the theory is that, on the one hand, it envisages an attempt to form an alliance among the old peoples of North Britain, northern Alba, against the Vikings but also a suppression of the power of one such old people, the Picts, within what had been Pictavia. Again, an appeal to a common Christianity against the heathens might well involve a liberation of the Church from oppressive dues, but that should not have been portrayed as being directed against just one peoples sins, a Pictish oppression of their own Church.34 Thirdly, the notion that Cined was ruler both of the Picts and of the Gaels but was succeeded by two rulers, his brother Domnall for the Picts and an unnamed person for the Gaels, needs to be interrogated further. It would be easier to accept if the territories were distinct, as Edgar became king of Mercia while his brother, Eadwig, remained as king of Wessex. Yet, as we shall see, there is reason to think that Gaels were settled in Pictland by this date. It would also be easier if, as in the English example, the two rulers were kinsmen; yet there is nothing to suggest that a member of Domnalls kindred ruled the Gaels. Finally, the Scottish Chronicle uses the term Pictauia in the next reign, that of Domnall mac Custantn. As has been noted, the change of name seems to have occurred during rather than before Domnalls reign.35
33 Pactus Legis Salicae, ed. Karl August Eckhardt, MGH, Legum Sectio I, iv. 1 (Hanover,

1962), 267, Postea uero in sequenti conuenit una cum leudis nostris: Decreuimus, ut . . . 34 Compare Alcuins use of Gildas, Dorothy Whitelock, English Historical Documents, c. 5001042, 2nd edn (London, 1979), no. 193 = Stephen Allott, Alcuin of York, c. AD 732 to 804 His Life and Letters (York, 1974), no. 12 = Epistolae Karolini Aevi, ii, ed. E. Dmmler, MGH Epistolae, iv (Berlin, 1895), no. 16. 35 Dumville, The Churches of North Britain, 36 n. 106; Dauvit Broun, Dunkeld and the origin of Scottish identity, in Spes Scotorum, ed. Broun and Clancy, 95111, at 103 n. 35.



One of Woolfs major contributions to the early history of Scotland has been a convincing argument that the name Fortriu was used of Pictland north of the Mounth.36 The Mounth seems to be what the English called the Wertermoras, the Moors of Fortriu, a name taken from the people living to the north.37 This becomes important for the present book when he is discussing the division between two branches of Clann Chineda, descended respectively from his two sons, Constantn and ed. The kingship alternated between these two branches in a manner well known from some Irish kingdoms, such as Leinster.38 Woolf argues (pp. 2235) that the branch of Clann Chineda descended from ed was based in Fortriu, whereas that descended from Constantn was based to the south of the Mounth. The problem with this theory is that it would produce two mists: rst, between the dynasty and the scope of the regnal chronicle, which, as we have seen, is a chronicle of Clann Chineda as a whole and yet concentrates on the area south of the Mounth; and secondly between the dynasty and the royal circuit as represented by Woolfs Map 5.1 (p. 200). The royal circuit, like the Chronicle, presents a dynasty whose base, irrespective of which branch was currently in power, was south of the Mounth. If one were to take the view that both branches were based in what had been southern Pictland, the change from Pictland to Alba would assume a different aspect. When Constantn son of Fergus died in 820, after a long reign, he was entitled by the Annals of Ulster king of Fortriu; and the same title was given to his brother engus in his obit in 834. Even more importantly, the devastating defeat inicted by the Vikings in 839 was specically at the expense of the men of Fortriu; and their leaders killed in the battle included someone with a Gaelic name, ed mac Boantai who was included among the kings of Alba in the Synchronisms of Irish Kings.39 Constantns power, although based in Fortriu, had extended over southern Pictland, as demonstrated by the inscription on the Dupplin Cross naming the king; the cross was
36 Alex Woolf, Dn Nechtain, Fortriu and the geography of the Picts, SHR 85 (2006), 182201. 37 Crucial is Anglo-Saxon Chronicle E 565 one wrteres be norum morum together with Simeon of Durhams Wertermorum. 38 It is not true to claim that the alternation between Cenl nogain and Cland Cholmin was the only well-established case of a regular alternation of lines in the kingship as claimed by Woolf, The Moray Question and the kingship of Alba in the tenth and eleventh centuries, SHR 79 (2000), 14564, at 152. A classic case, as shown by Mac Neill, is that of the branches of Sl mBrain, U Muiredaig, U Fhelin, and U Dnchada, in Leinster between the eighth and the eleventh centuries. 39 Since the name Boantae was derived from Boand, the name of the River Boyne, it is Gaelic rather than merely Gaelicised, as were the majority of Pictish names in the Irish annals; Thurneysen, Synchronismen, 91.


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apparently placed to mark the boundary of land attached to the royal palace of Forteviot in Strathearn. His power thus exemplied, in the late eighth and early ninth centuries what Woolf has called the Verturian hegemony. As Woolf notes, the inscription on the Dupplin Cross uses a form of Gaelic orthography, but fails to give the kings father the proper Gaelic genitive: it was not composed by a Gaelic speaker even though it betrays strong Gaelic inuence.40 From the time of Cined mac Alpn, however, Forteviot was a major centre of his dynastys power, part of the royal circuit in southern Pictland, later southern Alba. There is an argument, therefore, for seeing the change from Pictland to Alba as being from a Verturian hegemony to one based to the south of the Mounth. It was also a shift from a Pictish dynasty strongly inuenced by Gaelic culture to one that claimed a Gaelic origin in Kintyre, the former homeland of Cenl nGabrin. If the rgrad, the royals, claimed an origin in Kintyre, others did likewise. Woolf (pp. 2268) uses a genealogical text that, following Broun, he ascribes to the reign of Mel Coluim mac Cineda, 100534, supplemented by other evidence, to set out the origins then claimed by the men of Alba: the men of Fife were said to derive from Conall Cerr, a son of Eochaid Buide (king of Dl Riata, died c. 629), and the Gabrnaig, probably referring to the men of Gowrie, from another son, Fergus Goll.41 Similarly, the men of Strathearn claimed descent from another of the four kindreds of Dl Riata, Cenl Comgaill;42 and the name of the province of Angus, engus, may well stem from a third kindred of Dl Riata, Cenl nengusa. What is critical here is not the genetic truth of these claims but their signicance in the tenth and eleventh centuries. What they assert is that the elite in several provinces of Alba south of the Mounth descended
40 Katherine Forsyth, The inscription on the Dupplin Cross, in From the Isles of the North. Early Medieval Art in Ireland and Britain, ed. Cormac Bourke (Belfast, 1995), 23744. 41 The Book of Lecan, ed. Kathleen Mulchrone (Dublin, 1937), 109 vb 34110 rb 13, The Book of Ballymote, ed. Robert Atkinson (Dublin, 1887), 148 c 41149 b 3. Brouns argument, Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot?, 266, that the use of Gabrnaig implies that Clann Chineda was held not to belong to Cenl nGabrin neglects such Irish parallels as the emergence of the U Chonchobair as the rgrad of the province of Connaught from within Sl Muiredaig, and the latter from within U Bruin, leaving the possibility of kings of Sl Muiredaig and of U Bruin alongside Ua Conchobair kings of the Connachta (e.g. Chronicum Scotorum, ed. W. M. Hennessy (London, 1866), s.aa. 992, 1114; The Annals of Tigernach, ed. Whitley Stokes (repr. Felinfach, 1993), 1034, 1092, 1100; Diarmuid Murchadha, The Annals of Tigernach: Index of Names, Irish Texts Society, Subsidiary Series 6 (London, 1997), 180, 190). 42 Cf. Cuillennros hi Sraith Erenn i nComgellaibh eter Sliabh nOc[h]el ocus Mur nGiudan, Culross in Strathearn among the Comgaill between the Ochils and the Firth of Forth: Corpus Genealogiarum Sanctorum Hiberniae, ed. Padraig Riain (Dublin, 1985), 722. 106.



from cadet branches of the ruling dynasty of Dl Riata that had been excluded from the kingship: Clann Chineda was the rgrad, but they, by virtue of their kinship with the kings, were the noble kindreds of Alba. One reason why Woolf prefers to situate the branch of Clann Chineda descended from ed mac Cineda (Clann eda) in Moray was that, by doing so, he makes the problem of Moray easier.43 In the twelfthcentury genealogies in Rawlinson B 502 and the Book of Leinster, the rulers of Moray in the eleventh century are traced back to Cenl Loairn, yet another of the four kindreds of Dl Riata. As Woolf has shown, the pedigree these Irish collections supply leaps with utter disregard of chronology from the eleventh century to two distinct lines of descent ending in the rst half of the eighth century.44 Woolfs explanation is that the fall of the kindred of ed mac Cineda, rulers of Moray in the tenth century, allowed a new local dynasty to emerge; and that this local dynasty, perhaps through a female link, inherited Clann edas claims to the kingship of Alba. At the beginning of the eleventh century, as we have seen, major provincial families in Alba south of the Mounth were claiming descent from branches of Dl Riata. The new rulers of Moray did likewise, choosing the kindred that had held the kingship of Dl Riata for much of the early eighth century, before, in 741, engus mac Forgusso submerged Dl Riata in his northern imperium. Woolf offers evidence that relations between the kindred of Constantine mac Cineda and Moray were often hostile, whereas there is no such evidence for the kindred of ed. Yet, negative evidence counts for little: Clann Chustantn may have been hostile to the men of Moray, but that does not show that Clann eda was based there. There is also evidence for Clann edas interest in the lands south of the Mounth: not only does Custantn mac eda appear to have become a monk at St Andrews, but his son, Ildulb, and his grandson, Culn, may have been buried there.45 Among those killed when Dub defeated Culn were an abbot of Dunkeld and a satrap of Atholl;46 if the usual convention in the Irish annals were being used here, the two named among the dead would have been on the side of the defeated. That would then be evidence for Clann edas presence south of the Mounth. Another response would be to allow that there may be some connection between Cenl Loairn and the eleventh-century rulers of
43 A

fuller discussion is in Woolf, The Moray Question and the kingship of Alba, 14564. 44 Ibid., 1489. The problem was already seen by Chadwick, Early Scotland, 36. 45 The Prophecy of Berchn, ed. and trans. Benjamin T. Hudson (Westport, CT, 1996), 87 (stanza 156), 88 (stanzas 163, 168). Cf. Broun, Dunkeld and the origin of Scottish identity, 109. 46 Hudson, Scottish Chronicle, 151; Anderson, Kings and Kingship, 252.


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Moray, even though the pedigree only succeeds in revealing that the precise genealogical link was unknown. The portion of Dl Riata most immediately open to attack and domination from Fortriu through the Great Glen was the north, namely Lorne, the home territory of Cenl Loairn.47 Moreover, Thomas Clancy has noted that Walahfrid Strabos poem on the martyrdom of Blathmac regards Iona as being part of Pictland, though at an earlier date the neighbouring island of Mull very probably belonged to Cenl Loairn.48 If, then, Iona was reckoned to lie within Pictland in the early ninth century, the modern Lorne was very probably subsumed into Fortriu, then the dominant Pictish kingdom. Some annal entries help to conrm the accuracy of Walahfrid Strabos placing of Iona in Pictland; indeed, they suggest that the Dl Riatan territories incorporated into Pictland may even have stretched as far as Kintyre, the homeland of Cenl nGabrin. According to the Annals of Ulster, the battle between Conall mac Taidg and Constantn in 789 was inter Pictos, between two groups of Picts. Conall would be killed in Kintyre in 807, while Constantn would die as king of Fortriu in 820; yet Conall is probably one of the two Conalls recorded in the Synchronisms of Irish Kings.49 If, then, Conall belonged to the old ruling kindred of Kintyre, it would seem as if the great men of Dl Riata could be considered to be Picts, presumably as an effect of the Pictish domination of their kingdom. Yet Conall may have been a Pict who rst took refuge, and later gained power, in Kintyre. Indeed, he may be the Canaul lius Tang of one version of the Pictish regnal list, so that he would rst have ruled in Pictland and later in Dl Riata.50 The incorporation of Dl Riata within Fortriu had been inaugurated by the hammering of the Dl Riatai by engus son of Forggus recorded in the Chronicle of Ireland for 741 and had endured for much of the subsequent century. When, in 839, the Vikings slew the leading men of Fortriu in battle, the three named in the Annals of Ulster were ugann son of engus, Bran son of engus, and ed son of Boantae. The rst corresponds to Uuen lius Unuist of the Pictish Regnal Lists, while ed son of Boantae, as we have seen, is included among the kings of Alba in the Synchronisms of Irish
Kings of Celtic Scotland, 128. Owen Clancy, Iona in the kingdom of the Picts: a note, IR 55 (2004), 736; Bannerman, Studies on the History of Dalriada, 11216. For a suggestion as to who might have been Walahfrid Strabos informant, see Clancy, Diarmait sapientissimus: the career of Diarmait, dalta Daigre, abbot of Iona, Peritia 1718 (20034), 2289; WattenbachLevison, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter: Vorzeit und Karolinger, rev. by Heinz Lwe, vi (Weimar, 1990), 7823. 49 Thurneysen, Synchronismen, 901. 50 Anderson, Kings and Kingship, 263. 8; cf. Lebor Bretnach, ed. A. G. Van Hamel, 86, 52. The Poppleton version, ibid., 249. 6, has Tarla for Tang; for Marjorie Andersons comments, see Kings and Kingship, 191, 192.
48 Thomas 47 Hudson,



Kings.51 It appears as if ed mac Boantai may have been both a king in Dl Riata and a great man among the Men of Fortriu. Fortriu, by that period, was, through its own expansion, a mixed kingdom, both Pictish and Gaelic. With this background in the second half of the eighth century and the rst half of the ninth, it is then hardly surprising that Cined and his sons should have been at once a Gaelic dynasty from Kintyre and kings of the Picts. Even earlier there had been, as Chadwick and others have noted, Gaelic settlement in Pictland.52 The text known as Conall Corc and the Corco Logde was composed, very probably, c. 700 at the monastery of Cloyne (East Co. Cork).53 It was opposed to the claims of the oganacht Locha Lin, whom it calls the U Choirpri Lchra. It also knows, however, of a branch of the U Choirpri in Pictland. This evidence is especially signicant because it is early, can be ascribed to a particular monastery, and has no interest in advancing the claims of the dynasty in question indeed, quite the reverse. The associations between Gaelic settlement in Pictland and West Munster thus go back before engus mac Forggusso, who was later said to have belonged to the oganacht Maige Gerginn, a branch of the Munster oganachta related to oganacht Locha Lin (alias U Choirpri Lchra) but settled in eastern Pictland long before the days of Cined mac Alpn.54 In the history of medieval Scotland before the Wars of Independence, the relationship between kingdom, ethnicity and culture seems to have varied widely. The bewildering relationship between Cumbria and Galloway in the eleventh and twelfth centuries is an extreme case. On the one hand there is the division of dioceses: a large twelfth-century diocese of Glasgow that encompassed a land of several nations and languages alongside a smaller diocese of Whithorn. On the other hand, David I (who had been prince of Cumbria) made a grant, addressed to both

Kings and Kingship, 193, 249; Thurneysen, Synchronismen, 91. Early Scotland, 96. 53 Conall Corc and the Corco Luigde, ed. Kuno Meyer, in O. J. Bergin et al., Anecdota from Irish Manuscripts 3 (Halle, 1910), 5763, at 59. 12; trans. Vernam Hull, Proceedings of the Modern Language Association of America 62 (1947), 887909, at 897. For the probability that Bruide (d. 706) and Nechtan (defeated 729), sons of Der Ilei, were of Cenl Comgaill on their fathers side, but with a Pictish mother, namely Der Ilei, see Thomas Owen Clancy, Philosopher-king: Nechtan mac Der-Ilei, SHR 82 (2004), 12549, at 1303. 54 Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae, ed. M. A. OBrien (Dublin, 1962), 196; discussed by Broun, Alba: Pictish homeland or Irish offshoot, 2713, developing ideas in Katherine Forsyth, The Ogham Inscriptions of Scotland: An Edited Corpus (Harvard University, unpublished PhD thesis, 1996), 4850, but without reference to the earlier text, Conall Corc and the Corco Logde. For the signicance of denying the title oganacht, see Charles-Edwards, Early Christian Ireland, 5367.
52 Chadwick,

51 Anderson,


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Gawenses and Englishmen and Scots, giving to God and to the church of St Kentigern of Glasgow all the tithe of my cin, in cattle and pigs, from Strathgriff and Cunningham, and from Kyle and from Carrick, each year except when I myself shall come there making my circuit and eating my cin there.55 The grant is witnessed by, among others, Fergus of Galloway. Signicant here is the address to the Gawenses, presumably for Galwenses Galwegians: it is probably put rst because the lands in question were considered to be within Galloway; yet almost all this territory belonged to the diocese of Glasgow.56 Some kingdoms in North Britain were relatively uniform in language; and that must suggest, as a minimum, that the elites of those kingdoms had come to consider use of a particular language as a prerequisite of high status. Others were multilingual and allowed people of different ethnic afliation to gain entry into the ruling elite. Pictland in the eighth and ninth centuries appears to have been like Galloway and Cumbria in the twelfth, but Alba from the tenth century was more like, say, Northumbria in the eighth. Without such an assumption that Gaelic became a prerequisite for entry into the elite of Alba it is not easy to explain why Pictish should have died. Woolf has an admittedly speculative account of linguistic relationships in North Britain (pp. 32240). It was noticed by Heinrich Wagner among others that some features of modern Scots Gaelic resemble Welsh rather than Irish: an example would be the use of the synthetic present tense as a future.57 On the basis of such observations Woolf concludes that the Gaelic and British dialects of Albania probably inuenced each other enormously during the course of the tenth century and probably began to converge into a single Albanian language (p. 340). This Albanian language is held to have coexisted with purer forms of Gaelic. Albanian was spoken by the mass of the population in Eastern Scotland but the purer Gaelic was the language of cultural prestige and was also reinforced from the west and from Ireland. A fundamental difculty here is to know whether what is envisaged is a language hitherto unknown to history, Albanian in the sense of the language most widely spoken in Alba in the tenth century and surviving into the twelfth, a fusion of two earlier languages, or simply an impure form of Gaelic, most of whose impurities are to be ascribed to Pictish inuence. With the second one need not, in general, quarrel; indeed, as is well known, Old Irish was a standard language behind which may lie concealed local dialects. Across its full geographical range, Irish is likely to have had, at various dates,
Charters of David I, ed. G. W. S. Barrow (Woodbridge, 1999), no. 57. the distinction between the smaller and larger Galloway, see G. W. S. Barrow, Regesta Regum Scottorum i The Acts of Malcolm IV (Edinburgh, 1960), 389. 57 Heinrich Wagner, Das Verbum in den Sprachen der britischen Inseln: ein Beitrge zur geographischen Typologie des Verbums (Tbingen, 1959), 838.
56 For 55 The



other substratum inuences than those provided by Pictish.58 If we only knew everything about the history of Gaelic (Irish) that we might wish, the Gaelic of Alba might well not seem outstandingly impure. Talk of an Albanian language distinct from Gaelic, therefore, goes far beyond the evidence. The change from a North Britain beyond Forth and Loch Lomond divided between a Pictish east and north and a Gaelic west to a Gaelic Alba is most unlikely to have been accomplished in one go. Six stages may be distinguished: (1) Before the triumph of the Pictish king, Unust or engus, over Dl Riata in 741 there was already elite Gaelic settlement within Pictland, as indicated by the example of the sons of Der Ilei,59 by epigraphic evidence, and by the mention, c. 700, of an U Choirpri among the Pictish people. (2) The triumph of Unust led to the incorporation of Dl Riata into Pictland one of the developments that led to Unust becoming, as ally of thelbald of Mercia, joint-king of Britain, Albu. For geographical reasons as well as the power of Fortriu, the latter was the Pictish kingdom of which Dl Riata was normally a part. This situation probably continued, though perhaps with gaps, until the Viking defeat of Fortriu in 839. Crucially, the elite of Fortriu accommodated Gaelic alongside Pictish. (3) The reign of Cined mac Alpn (84258) saw a change of dynasty but not of the identity of the kingdom as Pictish. On the evidence of the Pictish regnal lists, the change from Bred to Cined mac Alpn also marked a change from Pictish to Gaelic in the recording of the names of the kings who ruled the Picts. Moreover, Clann Chineda traced its origins back to Kintyre, the homeland of Cenl nGabrin. It is likely that the main base of Clann Chineda was south of the Mounth, not in Fortriu. Cineds accession was thus much more signicant than recent scholarship has claimed. (4) About AD 900 the name of the kingdom changed. This was marked by internal and external sources at much the same time: Scottish Chronicle: from Pictavia to Alba Chronicle of Ireland: from Picts to Alba Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: from Peohtas to Scottas and Scotland.
Schrijver, Varia V: Non-Indo-European surviving in Ireland in the rst millennium, riu 51 (2000), 1959; idem, Varia I: More on Non-Indo-European surviving in Ireland in the rst millennium, riu 55 (2005), 13744. 59 See above n. 53.
58 Peter


T. M. Charles-Edwards

In all three cases the movement was away from Pictland or Picts; the evidence of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle suggests that Alba was, in its elite, predominantly Scottish, namely Gaelic. (5) By about AD 1000 local elites in the provinces of Alba, such as the Men of Fife, were claiming an origin in seventh-century Dl Riata. To judge by (6) this suggests that Gaelic had become an entrance requirement for inclusion in the elite. (6) By the twelfth century Pictish had apparently died out; and the inherited language of government in Alba, when it was not Latin, was Gaelic, several fundamental concepts, such as cin, coinnmed, sluagad, being shared with contemporary Irish kingdoms. But by this stage the elite was again being recruited both from those who did not speak Gaelic and from those who did. The relationship of the kingdom to ethnicity now more closely resembled that of Pictland in the eighth and early ninth centuries, or Cumbria in the tenth and eleventh, than it did Alba from c. 900 to c. 1100. Of these six stages, (1) and (6) lie outside the chronological range of Woolfs From Pictland to Alba; as for (2) to (5) the interpretation just given largely agrees with that proposed by Woolf, except that both branches of Clann Chineda are here thought to have been based south of the Mounth, Giric mac Dngaile is not given so prominent a role, the reign of Cined mac Alpn has much of its traditional signicance, and the likely linguistic history is understood quite differently. None of these differences, whether it is a contrast of emphasis or of major substance, detracts in the slightest from ones admiration for Woolfs achievement. The balance of his approach is matched by the quality of his prose: it has an easy pace, a clarity of structure and the tone of civilised conversation. It is hard to think of how such a survey could be better done, given the difculties of the evidence and the complexity of the changes in North Britain from the eighth to the eleventh century. T. M. CHARLES-EDWARDS IS JESUS PROFESSOR OF CELTIC AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.