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General History of the Highlands
Consolidation of Power through to 952


The consolidation of the Scottish and Pictish power under one supreme chief, enabled these nations not only to repel foreign aggression, but afterwards to enlarge their territories beyond the Forth, which had hitherto formed, for many ages, the Pictish boundary on the south.

Although the power of the tribes to the north of the Forth was greatly augmented by the union which had taken place, yet all the genius and warlike energy of Kenneth were necessary to protect him and his people from insult. Ragnor Lodbrog (i.e. Ragnor of the Shaggy Bones), with his fierce Danes infested the country round the Tay on the one side, and the Strathclyde Britons on the other, wasted the adjoining territories, and burnt Dunblane. Yet Kenneth overcame these embarrassments, and made frequent incursions into the Saxon territories in Lothian, and caused his foes to tremble. After a brilliant and successful reign, Kenneth died at Forteviot, the Pictish capital, 7 miles S.W. of Perth, on the 6th of February, 859, after a reign of twenty three years. Kenneth, it is said, removed the famous stone which now sustains the coronation chair at Westminster Abbey (now returned to Scotland), from the ancient seat of the Scottish monarchy in Argyle, to Scone. Kenneth (but according to some Constantine, the Pictish king, in 820), built a church at Dunkeld, to which, in 850, he removed the relics of St. Columba from Iona, which at this time was frequently subjected to the ravages of the Norsemen. He is celebrated also as a legislator, but no authentic traces of his laws now appear, the Macalpine laws attributed to the son of Alpin being clearly apocryphal.

The sceptre was assumed by Donald III, son of Alpin. He died in the year 863, after a short reign of four years. It is said he restored the laws of Aodh-fin, the son of Eocha III. They were probably similar to the ancient Brehon laws of Ireland.

Constantine, the son of Kenneth, succeeded his uncle Donald, and soon found himself involved in a dreadful conflict with the Danish pirates. Having, after a contest which lasted half a century, established themselves in Ireland, and obtained secure possession of Dublin, the Vikingr directed their views towards the western coasts of Scotland, which they laid waste. These ravages were afterwards extended to the whole of the eastern coast, and particularly to the shores of the Frith of Forth; but although the invaders were often repulsed, they never ceased to renew their attacks. In the 881, Constantine, in repelling an attack of the pirates, was slain at a place called Merdo-fatha, or Werdo, probably the present Perth, according to Maclauchlan.

Aodh or Hugh, the fair-haired, succeeded his brother Constantine. His reign was unfortunate, short and troublesome. Grig, who was Maormor, or chief, of the country between the Dee and the Spey, having become a competitor for the crown, Aodh endeavoured to put him down, but did not succeed; and having been wounded in a battle fought at Strathallan, (or possibly Strathdon), he was carried to Inverurie, where he died, after lingering two months, having held the sceptre only one year.

Grig now assumed the crown, and, either to secure his possession, or from some other motive, he associated with him in the government Eocha, son of Ku, the British king of Strathclyde, and the grandson, by a daughter, of Kenneth Macalpine. After a reign of eleven years, both Eocha and Grig were forced to abdicate and gace way to Donald IV, who succeeded them in 893.

During his reign the kingdom was infested by the piratical incursions of the Danes. Although they were defeated by Donald in a bloody action at Collin, said to be on the Tay, near Scone, they returned under Ivar O'Ivar, from Ireland, in the year 904, but were gallantly repulsed, and their leader killed in a threatended attack on Forteviot, by Donald, who unfortunately also perished, after a reign of eleven years. In his reign the kings of Scotland are no longer called reges Pictorum by the Irish Annalists, but Ri Alban, or kings of Alban; and in the Pictish Chronicle Pictavia gives place to Albania.

Constantine III, the son of Aodh, a prince of a warlike and enterprising character, next followed. He had to sustain, during an unusually long reign, the repeated attacks of the Danes. In one invansion they plundered Dunkeld, and in 908, they attempted to obtain the grand object of their designs, the possession of Forteviot in Strathearn, the Pictish capital; but in this design they were again defeated, and forced to abandon the countrty. The Danes remained quiet for a few years, but in 918 their fleet entered the Clyde, from Ireland, under the command of Reginald, where they were attacked by the Scots in conjunction with the Northern Saxons, whom the ties of common safety had now united for mutual defence. Reginald is said to have drawn up his Danes in four divisions; the first headed by Godfrey O'Ivar; the secondf by Earis; the third by Chieftains; and the fourth by Reginald himself, as a reserve. The Scots, with Constantine at their head, made a furious attack on the first three divisions, which they forced to retire. Reginald's reserve not being available to turn the scale of victory against the Scots, the Danes retreated during the night, and embarked on board their fleet.

After this defeat of the Danes, Constantine enjoyed many years' repose. A long grudge had existed between him and AEthelstane, son of Edward, the elder, which at last came to an open rupture. Having formed an alliance with several princes, and particularly with Anlaf, king of Dublin as well as of Northumberland, and son-in-law of Constantine, the latter collected a large fleet in the year 937, with which he entered the Humber. The hope of plunder had attracted many of the Vikingr to Constantine's standard, and the sceptre of AEthelstane seemed now to tremble in his hand. But that monarch was fully prepared for the dangers with which he was threatened, and resolved to meet his enemies in battle. After a long, bloody, and obstinate contest at Brunanburg, near the southern shore of the Humber, victory declared for AEthelstane. Prodigies of valour were displayed on both sides, especially by Turketel, the Chancellor of England; by Anlaf, and by the son of Constantine, who lost his life. The confederates, after sustaining a heavy loss, sought for safety in their ships. This, and after misfortunes, possibly disgusted Constantine with the vanities of this world, for, in the fortieth year of his reign, he put into practice a resolution which he had formed of resigning his crown and embracing a monastic life. He became Abbot of the Monastry of St. Andrews in 943, and thus ended a long and chequered, but vigorous, and, on the whole, successful reign in a cloister, like Charles V. Towards the end of this reign the term Scotland was applied to this kingdom by the Saxons, a term which before had been given by them to Ireland. Constantine died in 952.


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