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The Scottish Nation

AIDAN, the greatest of all the kings of the Scots of Dalriad, a kingdom which formed what is now Argyleshire, was the son of Gabran, or Gay-ran, and succeeded to the throne in 575, on the death of his cousin, Conal I. He reigned twenty-four years, according to the celebrated Duan, a Gaelic poem supposed to have been written by the court-bard of Malcolm the third; or thirty-four by the old lists. Duncan the son of Conal seems to have contested the kingdom with him, but he was defeated and slain in battle at a place called Loro in Kintyre. Pinkerton thinks that the Duan dates the commencement of his reign from his unction as king, which Columba long deferred, having a preference for Aidan’s brother Eogenan or Eugain. The Duan calls him "Aidan of the extended territories," and he certainly carried the Dalriadic power to a height from which it ever after declined, till Kenneth II. ascended the Pictish throne, in 836, and united the Picts and the Scots.

      In 579 the battle of Onc against Aidan is mentioned in the annals of Ulster, and in 581 the battle of Ma-nan, (O’Flaherty says, the Isle of Mann,) in which he was victor. He also conquered in the battle of Miathorum, or Lethrigh, in 589. In the following year he was at the famous council of Drumkeat in the diocese of Derry in Ulster, consisting of kings, peers, and clergy, summoned by Aid, king of Ireland, in which council Aidan procured the remission of all homage due by the kings of Dalriad to those of Ireland. In 594 Aidan’s brother Eugain died. In 603, Aidan, who is styled by Bede, "the king of the Scots who inhabited Britain," marched against Ethelfrid, king of Northumbria, "with an immense and strong army," but was conquered, and fled with a few. "Forasmuch as," says Bede, "in the most famous place which is called Degsastone, almost all his army was cut to pieces: In which fight also Theobold, brother of Ethelfrid, with all that army which he himself commanded, was killed." The place where this disastrous battle was fought is now unknown, but it is conjectured by Bishop Gibson to have been Dalston near Carlisle, or as Bishop Nicolson supposes, Dawston near Jedburgh. Aidan died in 605, in Kintyre, at an advanced age, and was buried at Kilcheran. where no king was ever buried before. If the date of his death be correct, he reigned just thirty years. He was succeeded by his son Achy, or Achaius, or Eochoid-buidhe (Eochy the yellow) who reigned for seventeen years. Another son, Conan, was drowned in 622. He had several younger sons. His brother Brandubius was king of Leinster—See Pinkerton’s Enquiry, vol. 2. page 113, and Ritson’s Annals of the Caledonians, Picts, and Scots, vol. 2, page 39.

AIDAN, bishop of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, in the seventh century, was originally a monk in the monastery of lona, and is said by some to have been a native of Ireland. By his zeal, a large portion of the northern part of England was converted to Christianity. In 634, when Oswald became king of the Angli of Northumberland, he sent to Scotland for a missionary, to instruct his subjects in the doctrines and duties of Christianity. Aidan was accordingly consecrated a bishop, and sent to the court of Oswald, and by his advice, the episcopal see was removed from York, where it had been fixed by Gregory the Great, to Lindisfarne, a peninsula adjoining the Northumbrian coast, by a narrow isthmus, called also Holy Island, because it was chiefly inhabited by monks. Here Aidan exercised an extensive jurisdiction, and preached the gospel with great success; deriving encouragement and assistance in his labour from the condescending services of the king himself.

      On Oswald being killed in battle, Aidan continued to govern the church of Northumberland under his successors, Oswin and Oswy, who reigned jointly. The following extraordinary instance of the bishop’s liberality to the poor is related. Having received a present from King Os-win of a fine horse and rich housings, he met with a beggar, and dismounting, gave him the horse thus caparisoned. When the king expressed some displeasure at this singular act of humanity, and the slight put upon his favour, Aidan quaintly but forcibly asked, "Which do you value most, the son of a mare, or the son of God?"—the king fell upon his knees and entreated the bishop’s forgiveness. The death of Oswin so much affected him, that he survived him only twelve days, and died in August 1651. He was buried in the church of Lindisfarne.

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