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The Highlanders of Scotland
Part I - Chapter II


The State of the Scottish Tribes in the year 731 – Their Territories – Internal Condition – Principles of Succession – Government.

      THE Scottish conquest (as it is generally termed), in the ninth century, is certainly at the same time the most obscure, and the most important event in the early annals of Scotland. That some great revolution took place at that period, which had the effect of uniting the various independent tribes in Scotland under the rule of one monarch, cannot be doubted; but there are perhaps few points in Scottish history, the nature of which has been more misrepresented and more misunderstood than that important revolution; while no attempt whatever has been made to assign the peculiar causes which led to so remarkable an event, or to ascertain the effects which it produced upon the internal state and condition of the tribes of Scotland, and the extent of its influence in the country. Our earlier writers in general have attributed to Kenneth, the complete conquest and extermination of the whole Pictish nation; but although many attempts were made by their followers to bring this account within the bounds of probability, an examination into the more genuine authorities for Scottish history, and the total silence of contemporary writers in other countries (a silence unaccountable upon the supposition of a revolution of such magnitude having taken place), soon shewed the absurdity of this fable, and led to various, although unsuccessful endeavours on the part of later historians to ascertain the true history of that period; some having even gone so far as to deny the truth of the story altogether, and to maintain that the Picts were the conquerors in the struggle, and that they had subjected the neighbouring Scots.

      Unsatisfactory as the accounts given of this event in the old Scottish chronicles and the theories of the more modern writers are, we can nevertheless distinctly perceive the traces of some remarkable revolution in the state of the country, and in the relative position of the various tribes at that time inhabiting it; and we shall now endeavour, as shortly as possible, to ascertain the real character of this change, and the probable causes which led to it.

      The principal events in the history of Scotland from the departure of the Romans to the middle of the eighth century, can be sufficiently discovered from the works of Gildas, Nennius, the Welsh bards, the Irish annals, and in particular from the venerable Bede. The most remarkable occurrences during this period were the arrival of the Scots from Ireland in the year 503, and the conversion of the northern Picts to Christianity about sixty years later by the preaching of Columba; the rest of the history apparently consists entirely of the petty battles of the Picts with the Dalriads and among themselves, with occasional incursions of the Angli into the Pictish territories, none of which produced any lasting change. Bede, however, finishes his history in the year 731, and with that year commences a period of great obscurity and confusion, during which we have no certain guide until the middle of the ninth century, when we find the numerous tribes of Scotland united under the government of Kenneth. Before entering upon this enquiry, it will therefore be necessary for us to ascertain the exact situation in which these nations were placed at the time when Bede finishes his history, the relations which they bore to each other, and the peculiar laws which governed the succession of their monarchs.

      Bede closes his history in the year 731 with a sketch of the state of the inhabitants of Britain, and his words relating to the nations at that time inhabiting the northern part of the island, are “Pictorum quoque natio tempore hoc et foedus pacis cum gente habet Anglorum et catholicae pacis et veritatis cum universali ecclesia particeps existere gaudet. Scoti qui Brittaniam incolunt suis contenti finibus, nihil contra gentem Anglorum insidiarum moliuntur aut fradium. Britones quamvis et maxima ex parte domestico sibi odio gentem Anglorum et totius catholicae ecclesiae statutum Pascha, minus recte moribusque improbis impugnent, tamen et divina sibi et humana prorsus resistente virtute in neutro cupitum possunt obtinere propositum.” [Bede, b. 5, c. ult.] From this passage it would appear that when Bede finished his history the inhabitants of North Britain consisted of four races, Picti, Angli, Scoti qui Britanniam incolunt, and Britones, and from the general tone of the passage, as well as from the phrase “suis contenti finibus,” it would seem that these different nations had probably for some time previous possessed the same territories, and that their mutual boundaries had not experienced much alteration.

      The southern boundary of the Picts, which was also the northern boundary of the Angli, appears from Bede to have been the Firth of Forth. For, in describing the result of the unsuccessful expedition of the Angli under Ecfrith, into the territory of the Picts, in the year 684, he has the following passage: “Ex quo tempore spes coepit et virtus regni Anglorum fluere, et retro sublapsa referri. Nam et Picti terram possessionis suae quam tenuerunt Angli et Scoti qui erant in Britannia et Britonum quoque pars nonnulla libertatem receperunt, quam et hactenus habent per annos circiter quadraginta et sex.” [Bede, b. 4, c. 26] Now the southern boundary of the Picts was at that time the Firth of Forth, for he adds immediately after, that the monastery of Abercorn was “in vicinia freti quod Anglorum terras Pictorumque disterminat;” and his expression “quam et hactenus habent per annos circiter quadraginta et sex,” shows that no change had taken place, but that it had continued to be the southern boundary of the Picts till the year 731, which is just forty-six years after the event he was narrating.

      The German ocean, and the Pentland Firth, were at that time the eastern and northern boundaries of the Picts. The Welsh Triads describe them as extending along the sea of Lochlin, or the German ocean. Adomnan mentions Lochness and the River Ness as being “in Provincia Pictorum,” near which also he places the palace of the Pictish king converted by St. Columba. That they possessed the extreme north of Britain is also clear from Nennius, who in describing Britain says, “Tertia insula sita est in extremo limite orgis Britanniae ultra Pictos et vocatur Orcania insula;” [Nennius, c. 2] and that they still possessed these territories as late as the eighth century is proved from the life of St. Findan, written in the ninth century, where the author relates that the saint was carried away captive from Ireland by the Norwegian pirates in the end of the eighth century, and adds “ad quasdam venire insulas juxta Pictorum gentem quas Orcades vocant.” [Goldasti Aleman. rerum Script. Vita Findani, p. 318]

      The western boundary of the Picts appears at all times to have been, partly a ridge of hills, termed Drumalban, which separated them from the Scots, as the southern part of their boundary, and as the northern part the sea from the Linne Loch to Capt Wrath. Thus the Scottish chronicles invariable mention that Fergus the First, King of the Scots, ruled over the districts extending from Drumalban to Innisgall, or the Hebrides. Adomnan, who wrote in the beginning of the seventh century, mentions the Pictorum plebe et Scotorum Britanniae “quos utrosque dorsi montes Britannici disterminant;” and in talking of the Picts, he invariably describes them as being “ultra dorsum Britanniae.” The phrase dorsum Brittanniae [sic] used by him is plainly a mere Latin translation of the Gaelic word Drumalban.

      Tighernac implies that the same mountain-ridge was their mutual boundary in the year 717, in which year he mentions the expulsion of the Monks of Iona by King Nectan, “trans dorsum Britanniae.” The Chronicon Rythmicum mentions the Scots as having inhabited “ultra Drumalban” till the reign of Kenneth. It thus appears that Drumalban, or the dorsum Britanniae was the invariable boundary of the Picts and Scots, south of the Linne Loch, from the year 503 down to the eighth century. There is no range of hills now bearing this name, but we find it frequently mentioned in older writers. The earliest description of Scotland which contains any allusion to its mountain ranges is entitled, “De situ Albaniae quae in se figuram hominis habet,” and is supposed to have been written by Giraldus Cambrensis, about the year 1180. This work describes Scotland (which name at that period was applied only to the country north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde) as resembling in form that of a man. The head of the figure lay in Arregathel, the mountains of which he says resemble the head and neck of a man; the body consisted of that chain which is called Mound, and which he describes as reaching from the western sea to the eastern; the arms were those mountains “qui dividunt Scotiam ab Arregaithen;” the legs, the two rivers Tay and Spey. After this description he adds, “inter crura hujus hominis sunt Enegus et Moerne citra montem, et ultra montem aliae terrae inter Spe et montem.” From this description it would seem that he considered that there were but two remarkable chains in Scotland, “mons qui Mound vocatur,” and “montes qui dividunt Scotiam ab Arregaithen.” The locality of the first of these chains is perfectly distinct from his description, for he tells us that part of it formed the northern boundary of “Enegus et Moerne,” a range which to the present day bears the name of “The Mounth.” The other part extended to the western sea, and must therefore be the western part of the same chain which divides the county of Inverness from the counties of Perth and Argyll, and which is now termed Drumuachdar. The other chain, viz. the “montes qui dividunt Scotiam ab Arregaithel,” are described as forming the arms of the figure, and must therefore have consisted of two ridges, the one branching from the Mounth, on the south, and the other on the north. As it appears, however, in describing the seven parts into which Scotland was of old divided, that Athol is named as one of them, it is plain that the western boundary of the southern part of Argyll was at that time the same as it is now, and therefore the southern branch of the “montes qui dividunt Scotiam ab Aregaithel” must be the same with that chain of hills which runs from Benauler on the north-west corner of Perthshire to the head of Loch Long, and which to this day separates the county of Argyll from the district of Atholl and the counties of Perth and Dumbarton. But this very chain is called by the same author Bruinalban, for in afterwards describing these seven parts of Scotland, of which he had formerly given the names (though with some variation), he mentions that division which corresponds with Atholl and Gouerin, as extending “a Spe usque ad Montem Bruinalban.” The Bruinalban of this writer appears, from the following circumstances, to have been synonymous with the Drumalban of others; for while Giraldus concludes his description with the words, “Fergus filius Erc ipse fuit primus qui de semine Chonare suscepit regnum Albaniae a monte Bruinalban usque ad mare Hiberniae et ad Inche Gall,” [Innes, App. No. 1] the same passage is found in other chronicles in the following words: “Fergus filius Eric fuit primus qui de semine Chonare suscepit regnum Albaniae; i.e., a monte Drumalban usque ad mare Hiberniae et ad Inche Gall;” [Innes, App. No. 4] and “Fergus filius Erth primus in Scotia regnavit tribus annis ultra Drumalban usque Sluaghmuner et ad Inche Gall.” [Chron. San. Andrew]

      The name of Drumalban was known even at a much later period than this, for it occurs in the Regiam Magistatem; and also in the history of the Bishops of Dunkeld, in both of which it appear as certainly applied to the same chain. The passage in the Regiam Magistatem as translated by Sir John Skene is as follows: –“2. And gif he quha is accused of the cattell, or anie other thing thifteously stolen or reft, alledges anie man for his warant dwelling betwixt Forth and Drumalbane, he quha is challenged sall have fifteen days to produce his warant before the sheref; whilk warant dwells within the said bounds. – 3. And gif anie dwell beyond thir places or bounds in Murray, Ross, Caithness, Argyll, or in Kintyre, he sall have all the fifteen days, and also ane moneth to bring and produce all his warants.”

      He thus divides Scotland, which is afterwards defined as “the partes of the realme benorth the water of Forth,” into two parts, the one extending from the Forth to Drumalbane, and the other lying beyond “thir bounds;” and containing Murray, Ross, Caithness, and Argyll. His Drumalbane, therefore, can refer only to that chain of hills which forms the present eastern boundary of Argyllshire. The history of the Bishops of Dunkeld evidently places Drumalbane in the same place, for Atholl and Drumalbane are mentioned as forming one of the decanatu of that bishopric. Since, then, the name of Drumalbane existed, and was known as applied to a particular range of hills at so late a period, we may conclude with safety, that the descriptions of it given by Buchanan, Monypenny and others, applied to a range of hills well known at the time under that name, and were not merely speculations as to the locality of a name which had ceased to be used. The great distinguishing feature applied to Drumalbane by these authorities is, that it divides the rivers flowing into the western sea from those flowing into the eastern, – a peculiarity which belongs only to a long range of hills commencing at Loch Long, and running up the centre of the island until it is lost among the mountains of Caithness, and of which that chain already alluded to as separating the counties of Perth and Argyll forms the southern part. As an additional corroboration of this, Buchanan mentions that the River Earn takes its rise from it, and that in fact it was merely the highest part of Breadalbane.

      The southern part of the western boundary of the Picts was therefore evidently the same with the present western boundary of Perthshire and Inverness-shire. The remaining and northern part of their western boundary appears to have been the sea from the Linne Loch to Cape Wrath, and this is a part of the boundary which it is of considerable importance for us to determine, as it involves the question of the possession of those districts which extend from Caithness to the Linne Loch, and comprise the western parts of the counties of Sutherland, Ross, and Inverness, and the northern part of the county of Argyll.

      From all the notices which I have been able to collect, it appears that these districts, at all times, belonged to the Picts. In the first place it may be inferred from the ancient chronicles, that Dalriada did not originally extend beyond the Linne Loch, for they divide Dalriada among the three brothers who are said to have conducted the Scot from Ireland. The eldest obtained Lorn; the second, Argyll Proper and Kintyre; while the youngest obtained Isla. And this division is fully corroborated by the Irish Annalists, who mention the descendants of these brothers frequently, and always in the same districts as they are placed by the Scottish Chronicles. In the second place, independently even of this argument, we have the direct testimony of Bede, that these districts were possessed by the Picts from the time of St. Columba to the year 731, when he finishes his history. He mentions that Oswald, the King of the Angli of Northumberland, wishing to Christianize his subjects, sent to the Scots requesting them to supply him with a Monk for that purpose; and that in consequence of this request, Aidan, a Monk of the monastery of Hy or Iona left that island and went to him. After which, he adds the following passage – “Quae videlicet insula ad jus quidem Britanniae perinet non magno ab ea freto discreta, sed donatione Pictorum qui illas Britanniae plagas incolunt jamdudum Monachis Scotorum tradita, eo quod illis predicantibus fidem Christi perceperunt.” [Bede, b. 3, c. 3] Thus shewing not only that Iona was in the Pictish territories in the days of St. Columba, but that they actually possessed and inhabited the neighbouring districts of Britain in his own time, that is, in the eighth century. A testimony so direct and positive as this to the existence of a fact in his own lifetime, and at the very time he is writing, it is impossible by any reasoning or criticism to overcome. But Bede is not the only one who asserts this fact; Walafred Strabo, in his life of St. Blaithmac, asserts the same, although at a period some years later. He opens his poem with these words: –

“Insula Pictorum quaedam monstratur in oris
Fluctivago suspensa salo cognomine Eo.”

      But if the Picts thus possessed the districts extending to the western sea opposite Iona, and since we have distinct evidence of their inhabiting the northern shore of Scotland, it would seem incredible to suppose that they did not also possess the intervening districts. We can hardly imagine that the Scottish nation were thus as it were divided into two by the Pictish tribes, or that a small portion of them could exist unmolested in the very heart of their powerful enemies, and completely cut off from the rest of the Scots in Britain, as well as from the Irish. We must therefore conclude, that the Picts inhabited the whole of the districts lying to the north of the Linne Loch, a circumstance corroborated by the language of Bede, who mentions the Picts in general terms as inhabiting the “Septentrionales plagas Britanniae.”

      We have thus shewn by an incontrovertible chain of authorities, that in the year 731, the period at which Bede closes his history, the territories of the Pictish nation consisted of the present counties of Kinross, Fife, Perth, Forfar, Kincardine, Aberdeen, Moray, Inverness, Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, and the northern part of Argyll; in fact, the whole of Scotland north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde, with the exception of Southern Argyll.

      The Firth of Clyde is universally allowed to have been the boundary which separated the Dalriads from the Strathclyde Britons, and consequently it follows that Dalriada, or the territory of the Scots in Britain, must have been confined to South Argyll, or that part of the county lying to the south of Linne Loch; and the Scots appear to have maintained their possession of a territory so inconsiderable in comparison with that of the Picts, partly by the strong natural boundaries and impervious nature of the country itself, and partly by the close connexion which they at all times preserved with the Irish. We shall now proceed, in pursuance of our plan, to investigate shortly the internal state and strength of these nations at the same period.

      When the Picts first appear under that appellation upon the stage of history, and when by the frequency of their incursions into the Roman provinces in Britain they attracted the attention of the Roman writers, they are described by them as having been divided into to great nations, Dicaledones, and Vecturiones. the origin of this division cannot now be traced, but as it apparently did not exist at the time when Ptolemy wrote his geography, it must have owed its origin to circumstances occurring subsequent to that period. In whatever manner, however, it may have originated, this twofold division of the Pictish nation appears to have subsisted at least down to the eighth century. We trace it in Bede as existing in full force in the time of St. Columba, when he mentions that Columba came over “predicaturus verbum Dei provinciis septentrionalium Pictorum, hoc est eis quae arduis atque horrentibus Montium jugis ab Australibus eorum sunt regionibus sequestratae. Namque ipsi Australes Picti qui intra eosdem montes habent sedes multo ante tempore (ut perhibent) relicto errore idolatriae fidem veritatis acceperant.” [Bede, b. 2, c. 4]

      The northern Picts mentioned by Bede, in all probability correspond with the Dicaledones of the Roman authors, for the Dicaledones, from their name, apparently extended along the Deucaledonian or Northern Sea. This distinction of the Pictish nation into the two great tribes of the northern Picts or Dicaledones and southern Picts, or Vecturiones, took its origin probably from incidental circumstances, and was afterwards perpetuated and increased by the difference of religion between them during the period from the conversion of the southern Picts by Ninian, and that of the northern Picts by St. Columba, as well as by the superior progress in civilization, which the prior conversion of the southern Picts would naturally give rise to. The same twofold division of the Picts can be traced subsequent to the time of St. Columba in Tighernac and the other Irish annalists. In Tighernac, we find the Picts sometimes termed Picti, at other times Cruithne and Piccardach: but although the last two are occasionally called Picti, yet we find a marked distinction at all times drawn between them, and occasionally we find them even having kinds independent of each other. As an instance, in the year 731, Tighernac mentions a battle “between Brude, the son of Angus, and Talorcan, the son of Congusa. Brude conquers, but Talorcan escapes;” and in 734, we find it mentioned, that Talorcan, the son of Congusa, was taken by his own brother, and given over by him into the hands of the PICCARDACH, thus making a complete distinction between the Piccardach and the other Picts, of whom Talorcan Mac Congusa was one. Again in 729, Tighernac calls Angus, the father of Brude above-mentioned, “Ri na Piccardach,” or King of the Piccardach, while, at that time, Drust was king of the Picts, and Angus did not attain the throne of the Picts till the year 731. We may also remark, that whenever Tighernac has the word Piccardach, the annals of Ulster use the word Pictores in Latin, instead of Picti, the name usually applied by them to the Picts. These words Piccardach and Pictores have generally been thought synonymous with Picti, and a mere error of the transcriber, and they have accordingly been so translated by O’Connor in his edition of these annals; but when we remark the uniformity with which these appellations occur in the two annalists, and with which they are distinguished from the rest of the Picts, and the confusion which such an idea must necessarily introduce both in the chronology and in the succession of the Pictish monarchs, it is impossible to suppose that they are the mere casual blunders of a transcriber.

      The similarity of name, and other causes connected with their kings, which we shall afterwards mention, plainly point out the Piccardach of Tighernac to be the same with the Vecturiones of the Romans, and the southern Picts of Bede, and consequently the name of Cruithne, although no doubt occasionally applied to all the Picts, would in its more restricted sense belong to the Dicaledones or northern Picts.

      Besides this great division of the Pictish nation into the northern and southern Picts, they were also divided into a number of smaller tribes, whose union together in a sort of permanent confederacy formed the two larger nations. The expressions of Tacitus shew, that when the Romans first appeared in Caledonia, it was inhabited by a number of “Civitates” apparently independent of each other, and the immediate result of the Roman invasion was the union of these tribes for the first time into a strong confederacy, and the election of Galgacus as a general to lead them to battle. In the second century, we again find them divided into a number of small tribes, whose names and situations are given us by Ptolemy. Shortly after this time, the great division into Vecturiones and Dicaledones took place, but that division did not, it would seem, make any change in the constitution of the Pictish nation as a confederacy of small tribes, or even produce a more close connexion between them.

      From this period, the existence of the smaller tribes which composed the Pictish nations, can be sufficiently traced in Bede and the Irish annalists. Thus Bede appears to allude to these tribes under the appellation of “Provinciae,” when, on one occasion, he mentions the “Universas Provincias Pictorum,” and in another, the “Provinciis Septentrionalium Pictorum.”

      In the following passages of Tighernac and the annals of Ulster, particular tribes of the Picts also appear to be mentioned:

            A.D. 666.    Eochaigh Iarlaithe Ri Cruithne Midha mortuus est.

            A.D. 668     Navigatio filiorum Gartnaidh ad Hiberniam cum plebe Scith.

            A.D. 670     Venit gens Gartnaidh de Hibernia.    

            A.D. 739     Talorcan mac Drostan Rex Athfotla.

            A.D. 752     Cath a Sreith in terra Circi.

      The territories of the Dalriads, as we have already seen, consisted of the southern half of Argyllshire and the Island of Isla, and they seem at all times to have been divided into no more than three tribes, namely, the Genus Loarn, Genus Comgal, and Genus Gabran. The districts inhabited by these tribes can also be pretty nearly ascertained from these annals. The name points out the district of Lorn as the possession of the Genus Loarn. Argyll and Kintyre belonged to the Genus Gabran, for Duncan Begg, who is mentioned by Tighernac in 719 as leading that tribe, is called by him in 721 Rincina tire, or King of Kintyre. While the present district of Cowall, which is in old MSS. always termed Comgaill, points itself out as the seat of the Genus Comgaill. These tribes of the Dalriads, however, must not be viewed in the same light as the Pictish tribes, because the tribes of the Picts, although they possessed a common origin, yet had been for a long course of time separated from each other; they possessed independent chiefs of their own, and were connected together only by the necessity of having a common head for the sake of their mutual safety. The Dalriadic tribes, on the contrary, had a much closer connexion; they formed but one nation, had sprung from the original stock within a very few generations, and were, therefore, united together by the ties of affinity and relationship as well as those of common origin and of policy.

      The only point which now remains for us to examine before we can proceed to determine the causes which led to the union of all these nations, under the rule of Kenneth Mac Alpin, are the principles which regulated the succession to the throne among them.

      On examining the line of Pictish kings, as contained in our ancient chronicles, we cannot fail to observe one great peculiarity, namely, that hereditary succession to the throne, appears to have been wholly unknown to them even so late as the ninth century. We occasionally find a king succeeded by his brother, but in no instance by his son; and in general, each king appears to be totally unconnected with his predecessor. But that some rule of succession existed among them is apparent from the testimony of Bede, who states, that the Picts on their first landing agreed, “ut Ubi res veniret in dubium, magis de ffoeminea regum prosapia quam de masculina regem sibi eligerent,” and adds, “quod usque hodie apud Pictos constat esse servatum.”  From this passage of Bede we may infer, first, that the Picts elected their monarchs; and, secondly, that the election was not unlimited in its range, but was confined to some specific class of individuals, otherwise it could not come into doubt; and thirdly, that when there did exist a doubt as to the proper object of the election, they chose that person most nearly related to the former king by the female line.

      Now there appears from Adomnan to have existed among the Picts a division of the people into Nobiles and Plebeii [Quendam de Nobili Pictorum genere. – Adom.l, b. 2, c. 24. Illo in tempore quo Sanctus Columba in Pictorum provincia per aliquot demorabatur dies, quidam cum tota plebius familia.– Adom., b. 2, c. 33], and the account given by Tacitus of the election of Galgacus, plainly indicates that it was to the Nobile genus alone that this privilege of being chosen to fill the Pictish throne belonged. [Inter plures duces virtute et genere praestans nomine Galgacus. – Tacit. Vita Agric.] We have already seen that besides the great two-fold division of the Picts into Dicaledones and Vecturiones, they also at all times consisted of a number of small tribes; we have also remarked that it appears from Tacitus and from the notices of these tribes formerly given from Tighernac, that they were originally independent of each other, and that they possessed chiefs of their own to whom alone they owed obedience, although they were frequently led by considerations of mutual safety to unite under a common head. When we consider these facts, it must appear evident that it was these chiefs alone who could be elected kings of the Picts, for it cannot for a moment be supposed that if the whole nation was divided into tribes subject respectively to the authority of their chiefs, that they would suffer any one of inferior rank to themselves to fill the Pictish throne. This view is confirmed by the expression of Tacitus with regard to Galgacus, that he was “inter plures duces virtute et genere praestans,” and still more strongly by the following passages of Tighernac:

            A.D. 713     Tolarg Mac Drostan ligatus spud fratrem suum Nectan regem.

            A.D. 739     Tolarcan Mac Drostan, REX ATFOTLA a bathadh la Aengus (drowned by Angus).

      Thus Tolard Mac Drostan, the brother of Nectan, the king of the Picts, appears after his brother’s death, and during the reign of Angus, as king of Athol, and consequently Nectan must have been chief of Athol before he became king of the Picts. What the peculiar rule was which regulated the election of these chiefs to the Pictish throne, and on what occasions that rule failed so as to bring the affair “in dubium,” it is impossible now to determine; but from the authorities which we have mentioned we may conclude, first, that the privilege of being elected monarch of th Picts, was confined exclusively to the hereditary chiefs of the different tribes into which that nation was divided, and, secondly, that whenever that election was involved in doubt, the chief most nearly related to the last king by the female line was chosen.

      Such a mode of succession as this, however, was not calculated to last; each chief who in this manner obtained the Pictish throne, would endeavour to perpetuate the succession in his own family, and the power and talent of some chief would at length enable him to effect this object and to change the rule of election into that of hereditary succession. This object appears in reality to have been finally accomplished by Constantin, the son of Fergus, who ascended the Pictish throne toward the end of the eighth century, and in whose family the monarchy remained for some time.

      Such, then, being the principles which regulated the succession to the Pictish throne, it may be well to enquire whether the same rule of election applied to the chiefs of the different tribes as well as to the monarch of the whole nation. The fact of the regal succession of the Picts being so peculiar does not in itself by any means lead to the inference that the same principles must have regulated the succession of the chiefs, for it is plain that this peculiarity assumed its form, not from the general principles of succession having always been so, but from the fact of the Picts having been rather an association of small and independent tribes united only by similarity of origin and language, and for purposes of mutual safety, than one compact nation. consequently no argument drawn from the nature of the succession to an office of no distant origin, and one produced by adventitious circumstances, can affect the question as to the nature of succession in general, which must have existed from the beginning, and which it is scarcely possible that circumstances can alter. Whatever was the nature of the succession among the chiefs, we may infer with great probability that when one of these chiefs succeeded in perpetuating the succession to the throne in his own tribe, the mode of succession introduced by him must have been that previously existing in his own tribe. This was effected for the first time by Constantin, who commenced his reign anno 791. He was succeeded by his brother Angus. Angus was succeeded by Drust the son of Constantin, and Drust by Uen the son of Angus. We see here, that though this was strictly a male succession, yet that in several points is differs from our ordinary rules of male succession. Thus it seems to have been a fixed rule among the Picts that brothers in all cases succeeded before sons; this is observable in the catalogues of the Pictish kings, and also in the only instance we possess of succession to the government of a tribe when Nectan is succeeded in Atholl by his brother, Talorg. Secondly, after all the brothers had succeeded, the children of the elder brother were called to the succession; and, thirdly, as in the case before us, in their failure the sons of the second brother succeeded, and so forth.

      Among th Dalriads the rules of succession to the government of the different tribes appear to have been very much the same; this is evident upon referring to the genealogies of the Dalriadic kings, and it would be needless to multiply examples. With regard to the succession to the command of the Dalriadic nation, that appears originally to have been governed by the same rule as that of the single tribes, and it afterwards became so frequently the subject of contention, that in general the most powerful at the time obtained the supremacy.

      Such, then, is a general view of these nations in the year 731. The Picts, we have seen, were by far the most powerful of the different nations inhabiting North Britain; they possessed the whole of Scotland proper, or Scotland north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde, with the exception of the southern part of Argyllshire, which was occupied by the Dalriads; although divided into numerous tribes, they were united under the rule of one monarch, and while part of the nation had made considerable progress in civilization, and therefore may be supposed less inured to warfare, the other part possessed all the hardihood and constitutional bravery of a mountain people. The Dalriads, on the contrary, were of far less power; they occupied a small and mountainous district, and apparently owned their existence in the heart of the Pictish tribes to the strength of their natural barriers, the poverty of their country, and their alliance with Ireland, and perhaps also to the policy with which they took advantage of the jealousies and rivalry between the two great nations of the Picts.

      In the ninth century we find the state of Scotland very different; the whole country was then united under the government of one monarch, hereditary succession was firmly established, the once formidable name of Picti gradually disappearing, and the name of Scotia and Scotti, formerly confined to so small a portion of the island, rapidly spreading over the whole country. It must unquestionably have been a series of events of no small importance which could have given rise to a revolution so remarkable.


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