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The Kingdom of Dalriada

From at least the 5th century the Kingdom of Dalriada was on both sides of the Straits of Moyle, and included the area in Northern Ireland which is called County Antrim today, and parts of the Inner Isles and Argyll.

Gaels from Antrim in Ulster established the kingdom of Dalriada in Argyll. Recorded evidence tells how Fergus the Great, King of Dalriada in Ulster moved across to Scotland about 500AD.

He brought Gaelic to Scotland, he set up a new capital town, Dunadd, and he gave up his claim to land in Ulster.

Keeping control of two kingdoms

The same family, who were descended from Fergus the Great, were in control of land on both sides of the Straits of Moyle until the 7th or 8th century. There were three kindred groups or clans, who had separate districts, who came from three brothers – Fergus the Great, Loarn and Angus.

They were the sons of Eric, King of Dalriada. Each clan had a king and land, and they kept control of their part of Scotland until after 800.

But it became more difficult for the kings of Dalriada to keep control in Ulster.


The Gaels and the Picts

The Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada was small compared to the large Pictish kingdom.

The borders of the Picts were to the north and to the east of the borders of the Gaels.

The centre of their power was in the region of Angus to the east and in the region of Ross to the north.

The two peoples were often fighting one another, but there was no attack on the land of the Gaels in Argyll and Kintyre until the 9th century.

In 811 however, Custantin son of Forcussa, the king of the Picts, became ruler of the kingdom of the Gaels for a while.

The Vikings came about 800AD and the question of rule over the Gaels was again connected to fighting forces.

Shortly after that, about 843AD, the two peoples, the Gaels and the Picts, came together under the rule of Kenneth MacAlpin.

Kenneth became ruler of the Gaels and gained control of the Pictish kingdom about 834.

Kenneth I was the last king of Dalriada.

He joined the two kingdoms as one united kingdom, Alba.

They were both now standing against another enemy – the Vikings.

The Viking Impact

The Viking attacks caused great upheavals in the 9th century and the two kingdoms separated.

Because of the the Viking plundering, the Kingdom of Alba moved its capital from Dun Add to Scone, near Perth.


The Roman Influence

It was the Romans, who were in Britain for about four hundred years, who gave the Latin name Scoti to the people who lived in Ireland.

Fergus was one of the Scoti and it was from this word that the names Scot and Scotland came.