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List of Kings of the Picts

The list of kings of the Picts is based on the Pictish Chronicle king lists. These are late documents and do not record the dates when the kings reigned. The various surviving lists disagree in places as to the names of kings, and the lengths of their reigns. A large portion of the lists, not reproduced here, belongs with the Matter of Britain or Irish mythology. The latter parts of the lists can largely be reconciled with other sources.

Pictish kings

Pictish kings ruled in northern and eastern Scotland. In 843 tradition records the replacement of the Pictish kingdom by the Kingdom of Alba, although the Irish annals continue to use Picts and Fortriu for half a century after 843.

The list opens with Drest son of Erp, a legendary king who supposedly reigned a hundred years and fought a hundred battles. In his reign the king lists supply their first synchronism, stating that in Drest's nineteenth year Saint Patrick came to Ireland. The king lists are thought to have been compiled in the early 8th century, probably by 724, placing them in the reigns of the sons of Der-Ilei, Bridei and Nechtan.

Irish annals (the Annals of Ulster, Annals of Innisfallen) refer to some kings as king of Fortriu or king of Alba. The kings listed are thought to represent overkings of the Picts, at least from the time of Bridei son of Maelchon onwards. In addition to these overkings, many less powerful subject kings existed, of whom only a very few are known from the historical record.

Mythical kings of the Picts are listed in the Lebor Bretnach's account of the origins of the Cruithne. The list begins with Cruithne son of Cing and his sons Fib, Fidach, Foltlaig, Fortrend, Caitt, Ce and Circinn.

The dates given here are drawn from early sources, unless specifically noted otherwise. The relationships between kings are less than certain and rely on modern readings of the sources.

Names

Orthography is problematic. Cinioch, Ciniod and Cináed all represent ancestors of the modern English name Kenneth. Pictish "uu", sometimes printed as "w" corresponds with Gaelic "f", so that Uuredach is the Gaelic Feredach and Uurguist the Gaelic Fergus. As the Dupplin Cross inscription shows, the idea that Irish sources Gaelicised Pictish names may not be entirely accurate.

Kings of the Picts

Colouring indicates groups of kings presumed to be related.

Early kings

The kings before Drest son of Erp are omitted to reduce the length of the lists.

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
unknown Drest Drest son of Erp First king of the Pictish Chronicle lists whose reign includes a synchronism (the coming of Saint Patrick to Ireland; "ruled a hundred years and fought a hundred battles"
unknown Talorc Talorc son of Aniel or Tholarg son of Anile An entry in the king lists; reigned 2 or 4 years
unknown Nechtan Nechtan son of Uuirp (or Erip), Nechtan the Great, Nechtan Celcamoth Possibly a brother of Drest son of Erp The foundation of the monastery at Abernethy is fathered on this king, almost certainly spuriously
unknown Drest Drest Gurthinmoch (or Gocinecht) An entry in the king lists; reigned 30 years
unknown Galan Galan Erilich or Galany An entry in the king lists
unknown Drest Drest son of Uudrost (or Hudrossig) An entry in the king lists
unknown Drest Drest son of Girom (or Gurum) An entry in the king lists
unknown Gartnait Garthnac son of Girom, Ganat son of Gigurum An entry in the king lists
unknown Cailtram Cailtram son of Girom, Kelturan son of Gigurum Brother of the preceding Gartnait An entry in the king lists
unknown Talorc Talorc son of Murtolic, Tolorg son of Mordeleg An entry in the king lists
unknown Drest Drest son of Manath, Drest son of Munait An entry in the king lists

Early historical kings

The first king who appears in multiple early sources is Bridei son of Maelchon, and kings from the later 6th century onwards may be considered historical as their deaths are generally reported in Irish sources.

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
Died c. 580 Galam Galam Cennalath The death of "Cennalaph, king of the Picts" is recorded, may have ruled jointly with Bridei son of Maelchon
Died c. 584 Bridei Bridei son of Maelchon
Brude son of Melcho
His death and other activities are recorded, he is named in Adomnán's Life of Saint Columba; the first Pictish king to be more than a name in a list
Died c. 601 Gartnait Gartnait son of Domelch, Gernard son of Dompneth
Died c. 621 Nechtan Nechtan grandson of Uerb
Nechtan son of Cano
His reign is placed in the time of Pope Boniface IV
Died c. 631x633 Cinioch Cinioch son of Lutrin
Kinet son of Luthren
Gartnait Gartnait son of Uuid Brother of the following two kings
Bridei Bridei son of Uuid or son of Fochle Brother of the preceding and following kings
Died c. 653 Talorc Talorc son of Uuid or son of Foth Brother of the preceding two kings
Died c. 657 Talorgan Talorgan son of Eanfrith Son of Eanfrith of Bernicia
Died c. 663 Gartnait Gartnait son of Donnel or son of Dúngal
Deposed c. 672 Drest Drest son of Donnel or son of Dúngal

Later historical kings

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
Died 693 Bridei Bridei son of Bili Son of Beli I of Alt Clut or grandson of Nechtan II Defeated Ecgfrith of Northumbria at the battle of Dunnichen
c. 692–696 Taran Taran son of Ainftech Possibly a uterine half-brother of Bridei and Nechtan mac Der-Ilei
Died 706 Bridei Bridei son of Der-Ilei Brother of Nechtan Son of Der-Ilei, a Pictish princess, and Dargart mac Finnguine, a member of the Cenél Comgaill of Dál Riata; listed as a guarantor of the Cáin Adomnáin
Abdicated 724 Nechtan Nechtan son of Der-Ilei Brother of Bridei Adopted the Roman dating of Easter c. 712, a noted founder of churches and monasteries
Killed 729 Drest None Perhaps son of a half-brother of Nechtan and Bridei Succeeded Nechtan, imprisoned him in 726, may have been deposed that year by Alpín
Deposed 728 Alpín Alpin son of Crup ? Probably a co-ruler or subking under Drest
Restored 728 or 729, died 732 Nechtan
restored
Nechtan son of Der-Ilei, second reign
732–761 Onuist Óengus son of Fergus Claimed as a kinsman by the Eóganachta
Drowned 739 Talorgan Talorgan son of Drostan A sub-king, king of Atholl; executed by drowning
Killed 750 Talorgan Talorgan son of Fergus Brother of Óengus Perhaps king of Atholl; killed in battle against the Britons of Alt Clut
Died 763 Bridei Bridei son of Fergus Brother of Onuist King of Fortriu
Died 775 Ciniod Ciniod son of Uuredach, Cinadhon Sometimes thought to be a grandson of Selbach mac Ferchair Granted asylum to the deposed King Alhred of Northumbria
Died 780 Alpín Alpin son of Uuroid Death reported as Eilpín, king of the Saxons but this is taken to be an error
Died 782 Talorgan Talorgan son of Onuist, also Dub Tholarg Son of Óengus
Died 782 Dubhtolargg King of Cismontane Picts Death reported in the Ulster Annals
Died 787 Drest Drest son of Talorgan Son of the preceding Talorgan or of Talorgan, brother of Óengus
Possibly deposed 789, died 807 Conall Conall son of Tarla (or of Tadg) Perhaps rather a king in Dál Riata
Died 820 Caustantín Caustantín son of Fergus A grandson or grandnephew of Onuist or perhaps a son of Fergus mac Echdach His son Domnall may have been king of Dál Riata
Died 834 Óengus Óengus son of Fergus Brother of Caustantín
Unknown Drest Drest son of Caustantín Son of Caustantín
Died 839 Eógan Eógan son of Óengus Son of Óengus Killed in 839 with his brother Bran in battle against the Vikings; this led to a decade of conflict

Kings of the Picts 839–848 (not successively)

The deaths of Eógan and Bran appears to have led to a large number of competitors for the throne of Pictland.

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
Unknown Uurad Uurad son of Bargoit Unknown Said to have reigned for three years, probably named on the Drosten Stone
Unknown Bridei Bridei son of Uurad Possibly the son of the previous king Said to have reigned one year
Unknown Ciniod Ciniod son of Uurad Possibly the brother of the previous king Said to have reigned one year in some lists
Unknown Bridei Bridei son of Uuthoil Unknown Said to have reigned two years in some lists
Unknown Drest Drest son of Uurad As previous sons of Uurad Said to have reigned three years in some lists; the myth of MacAlpin's Treason calls the Pictish king Drest
Died 13 February, 858 Cináed Cináed mac Ailpín
Kenneth MacAlpine
Unknown, but his descendants made him a member of the Cenél nGabráin of Dál Riata

Kings of the Picts traditionally counted as King of Scots

Cináed mac Ailpín defeated the rival kings, winning out by around 845–848. He is traditionally considered first "King of Scots", or of "Picts and Scots", but appears to have been a Pictish king no different from those who preceded him.

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
Died 13 February, 858 Cináed Cináed mac Ailpín
Kenneth MacAlpine
Unknown, but his descendants made him a member of the Cenél nGabráin of Dál Riata
Died 862 Domnall Domnall mac Ailpín Brother of Cináed
Died 877 Causantín Causantín mac Cináeda Son of Cináed
Died 878 Áed Áed mac Cináeda Son of Cináed
Deposed 889 ? Giric Giric mac Dúngail Cináed's daughter's son ? Associated, probably incorrectly, with Eochaid
Died 900 Domnall Domnall mac Causantín Son of Causantín mac Cináeda Last to be called "king of the Picts"

King of Alba

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
Abdicated 943, died 952 Causantín Causantín mac Áeda Son of Áed mac Cináeda First king of Alba, the Gaelic kingdom of Scotland.

Notes

References

For primary sources, see External links below

  • Adomnán, Life of St Columba, tr. & ed. Richard Sharpe. Penguin, London, 1995. ISBN 0-14-044462-9
  • Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History A.D 500–1286, volume 1. Reprinted with corrections. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
  • Bannerman, John, Studies in the History of Dalriada. Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, 1974. ISBN 0-7011-2040-1
  • Bannerman, John. "The Scottish Takeover of Pictland and the relics of Columba" in Dauvit Broun and Thomas Owen Clancy (eds.) Spes Scotorum: Saint Columba, Iona and Scotland. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1999 ISBN 0-567-08682-8
  • Broun, Dauvit, "Dunkeld and the origin of Scottish identity" in Broun & Clancy (1999).
  • Broun, Dauvit, "Pictish Kings 761–839: Integration with Dál Riata or Separate Development" in Sally M. Foster (ed.), The St Andrews Sarcophagus: A Pictish masterpiece and its international connections. Four Courts, Dublin, 1998. ISBN 1-85182-414-6
  • Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Caustantín son of Fergus (Uurgust)" in M. Lynch (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Scottish History. Oxford & New York: Oxford UP, 2002. ISBN 0-19-211696-7
  • Herbert, Máire, "Ri Éirenn, Ri Alban: kingship and identity in the ninth and tenth centuries" in Simon Taylor (ed.), Kings, clerics and chronicles in Scotland 500–1297. Fourt Courts, Dublin, 2000. ISBN 1-85182-516-9
  • Smyth, Alfred P. Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000. Reprinted, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1998. ISBN 0-7486-0100-7
  • Woolf, Alex, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered" in The Innes Review, Volume XLIV, Number 2 (Autumn 1998). ISSN 0020-157X
  • Woolf, Alex, "Ungus (Onuist), son of Uurgust" in M. Lynch (2002).

External links

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