Clans and Families
of Ireland and Scotland IV. The Kingdom of the
Picts: Christianity, Paganism and the Making of Gaelic Scotland
succession set the stage in the
eleventh century for a north-south dichotomy in the new kingdom, which by this time had
incorporated both Beornicia (Malcolm II) and Strathclyde (Duncan I). The politics of the
period reflect the ambitions of the Cineal Loairn, for as they had traditionally
alternated the old high-kingship of Dal Riada with the Cineal nGabrain, the line which had
inherited the Pictish throne, they wished to reassert their ancient rights. Yet
even such Dalriadic awarenesses as these were tempered by the new Picto-Gaelic style
succession, for the seriousness of the claim of the Cineal Loairn depended on key
marriages with factions within the Cineal nGabrain itself during the eleventh century.
There may also be in this a reflection of the more ancient division of the Pictish kingdom
itself into northern and southern parts, for the Cineal Loairn had migrated northward up
the Great Glen into Moray, and intermarried with Northern Picts.
St. Margaret, the mother of David I, sought to influence the Celtic
church in the North to come into conformity with the Roman church, as the Saxon church had
done. It is not surprising that under her influence the kings of her line should revive
the Church of St. Andrew in Fife from the grass-roots level, especially since the rival
dynasty and revolting tribes of the time were closely connected with the Kindred of St.
Columba (they mainly held sway in the north and west of the country—Moray and
Argyle—where, as we have said, the more purely Gaelic, as opposed to Pictish, tribal
aristocracies were strongest).
While David I and his descendants were attempting to consolidate the
kingdoms of Albany (Picts and Scots), Lothian and Cumbria (Strathclyde) into the Kingdom
of Scots after 1124, their chief rivals for power descended from David’s brothers:
the MacWilliam claimants from his half-brother Duncan II (derived from Malcolm Ill’s
first wife), and the Moray dynasty from his full-brother Aethelred, last abbot of the
Columban church center of Dunkeld, who married the Moray "Highland") heiress.
Aethelred was, like David 1, of the Kindred of St. Columba, and the interesting thing here
is that all of the claimants of this time descended from royal heiresses of around
1000: As we have seen, the early Moray dynastic line, associated with Macbeth, whose
representative married the heiress of Clan Duff and about 1000, itself passed to an
heiress who married Aethelred. Meanwhile David and his brothers were descendants of
Crinan, their paternal great-grandfather (d. 1045), who was of the Kindred of St. Columba
and Abbot of Dunkeld, and had married the royal heiress Bethoc, daughter of Malcolm II.
As alluded to earlier, this state of affairs was a clear departure from
the purely Gaelic, as opposed to Picto-Gaelic, system of succession, and though the clan
and tribal groups would continue to choose their chiefs and dynasts in the Gaelic way, by
male line from among cousins (as the Picts themselves may have done), the royal
succession, including that of the Clan MacDuff, seems to have blended the Gaelic and
Pictish systems to allow for male or secondly
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