Dyfnwal was King of Strathclyde. Although his parentage is unknown, he was probably a member of the Cumbrian dynasty that is recorded to have ruled the Kingdom of Strathclyde immediately before him. Dyfnwal is attested by only one source, a mediaeval chronicle that places his death between the years 908 and 915.
Strathclyde, originally Cumbric: Ystrad Clud or Alclud, was one of the early medieval kingdoms of the Britons in what the Welsh call Hen Ogledd, the Brythonic-speaking parts of what is now southern Scotland and northern England. The kingdom developed during the post-Roman period. It is also known as Alt Clut, a Brittonic term for Dumbarton Castle, the medieval capital of the region. It may have had its origins with the Brythonic Damnonii people of Ptolemy's Geography.
The River Clyde is a river that flows into the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is the eighth-longest river in the United Kingdom, and the second-longest in Scotland. Traveling through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire. To the Romans, it was Clota, and in the early medieval Cumbric language, it was known as Clud or Clut, and was central to the Kingdom of Strathclyde.
The Kingdom of Alba refers to the Kingdom of Scotland between the deaths of Donald II in 900 and of Alexander III in 1286, which then led indirectly to the Scottish Wars of Independence. The name is one of convenience, as throughout this period the elite and populace of the Kingdom were predominantly Pictish-Gaels or later Pictish-Gaels and Scoto-Norman, and differs markedly from the period of the Stuarts, in which the elite of the kingdom were speakers of Middle English, which later evolved and came to be called Lowland Scots. There is no precise Gaelic equivalent for the English terminology "Kingdom of Alba", as the Gaelic term Rìoghachd na h-Alba means 'Kingdom of Scotland'. English-speaking scholars adapted the Gaelic name for Scotland to apply to a particular political period in Scottish history during the High Middle Ages.
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. The name is a Latinisation of the Old English Mierce or Myrce, meaning "border people". Mercia dominated what would later become England for three centuries, subsequently going into a gradual decline while Wessex eventually conquered and united all the kingdoms into the Kingdom of England.
Ragnall ua Ímair or Rægnald was a Viking leader who ruled Northumbria and the Isle of Man in the early 10th century. He was a grandson of Ímar and a member of the Uí Ímair. Ragnall was most probably among those Vikings expelled from Dublin in 902, whereafter he may have ruled territory in southern Scotland or the Isle of Man. In 917, he and his kinsman Sitric Cáech sailed separate fleets to Ireland where they won several battles against local kings. Sitric successfully recaptured Dublin and established himself as king, while Ragnall returned to England. He fought against Constantín mac Áeda, King of Scotland, in the Battle of Corbridge in 918, and although the battle was not decisive it did allow Ragnall to establish himself as king at York.
Owain is first securely attested in 934, when Æthelstan invaded and ravaged the Scottish Kingdom of Alba and seemingly Strathclyde as well. In the aftermath of this campaign, both Owain and Custantín are known to have been present at Æthelstan's royal court, witnessing several charters as subreguli of the Englishman. Three years later, the Scots and Cumbrians allied themselves with Amlaíb mac Gofraid against the English at the Battle of Brunanburh. It is possible that Owain is identical to the unnamed Cumbrian king recorded to have participated in this defeat by the English. If he was indeed present, he could have been amongst the dead. His son Dyfnwal ab Owain is recorded to have ruled as King of Strathclyde within a few years.
The Battle of Brunanburh was fought in 937 between Æthelstan, King of England, and an alliance of Olaf Guthfrithson, King of Dublin; Constantine II, King of Alba and Owen, King of Strathclyde. One of the historiographical cruxes of this battle is the fact that it is often cited as the point of origin for English nationalism. Additionally, historians such as Michael Livingston argue that "the men who fought and died on that field forged a political map of the future that remains [in modernity], arguably making the Battle of Brunanburh one of the most significant battles in the long history not just of England, but of the whole of the British Isles."
Dyfnwal ab Owain was a tenth-century King of Strathclyde. He was a son of Owain ap Dyfnwal, King of Strathclyde, and seems to have been a member of the royal dynasty of Strathclyde. At some point in the ninth- or tenth century, the Kingdom of Strathclyde expanded substantially southwards. As a result of this extension far beyond the valley of the River Clyde, the realm became known as the Kingdom of Cumbria. By 927, the kingdom seems to have reached as far south as the River Eamont.
For hundreds of years until the late ninth century, the power centre of the Kingdom of Al Clud was the fortress of Al Clud ("Rock of the Clyde"). In 870, this British stronghold was seized by Irish-based Scandinavians, after which the centre of the realm seems to have relocated further up the River Clyde, and the kingdom itself began to bear the name of the valley of the River Clyde, Ystrad Clud (Strathclyde). The kingdom's new capital may have been situated in the vicinity of Partick and Govan which straddle the River Clyde, and the apparent inclusion in the realm's new hinterland of the valley and the region of modern Renfrewshire may explain this change in terminology.
The Britons, also known as Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons, were Celtic people who inhabited Great Britain from the British Iron Age into the Middle Ages, at which point their culture and language diverged into the modern Welsh, Cornish and Bretons. They spoke the Common Brittonic language, the ancestor to the modern Brittonic languages.
The Siege of Dumbarton took place in 870, where the British fortress at Dumbarton Rock was besieged by a Viking force from Ireland. The Britons were defeated after four months when they ran out of water, and the attackers returned to Ireland a year later with a great deal of slaves and plunder. The event forced the Britons to move their capital to the vicinity of Partick and Govan, which resulted in the transformation of the Kingdom of Alt Clut into the Kingdom of Strathclyde.
Vikings were Norse seafarers, mainly speaking the Old Norse language, who during the late 8th to late 11th centuries, raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of Europe, and explored westwards to Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. The term is also commonly extended in modern English and other vernaculars to the inhabitants of Norse home communities during what has become known as the Viking Age. This period of Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion constitutes an important element in the early medieval history of Scandinavia, Estonia, the British Isles, France, Kievan Rus' and Sicily.
At some point after the loss of Al Clud, the Kingdom of Strathclyde appears to have undergone a period of expansion. Although the precise chronology is uncertain, by 927 the southern frontier appears to have reached the River Eamont, close to Penrith. The catalyst for this southern extension may have been the dramatic decline of the Kingdom of Northumbria at the hands of conquering Scandinavians, and the expansion may have been facilitated by cooperation between the Cumbrians and insular Scandinavians in the late ninth- and early tenth century. Over time, the Kingdom of Strathclyde increasingly came to be known as the Kingdom of Cumbria reflecting its expansion far beyond the Clyde valley.[note 2]
The River Eamont is a river in Cumbria, England and one of the major tributaries of the River Eden. The name of the river is from Old English (ēa-gemōt) and is a back formation from Eamont Bridge which means the junction of streams.
Penrith is a market town and civil parish in the county of Cumbria, England. Penrith lies less than 3 miles (5 km) outside the boundaries of the Lake District National Park. Historically a part of Cumberland, Penrith's local authority is currently Eden District Council, which is based in the town. Penrith was formerly the seat of both Penrith Urban and Rural District Councils. From 1974 to 2015, Penrith had no town council of its own, and was an unparished area. A civil parish of Penrith was recreated in 2015. Penrith Town Council was formed in 2015 and the first elections to the council took place on May 7, 2015.
The Kingdom of Northumbria was a medieval Anglian kingdom in what is now Northern England and south-east Scotland. The name derives from the Old English Norþan-hymbre meaning "the people or province north of the Humber", which reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary. Northumbria started to consolidate into one kingdom in the early seventh century, when the two earlier core territories of Deira and Bernicia entered into a dynastic union. At its height, the kingdom extended from the Humber, Peak District and the River Mersey on the south to the Firth of Forth on the north. Northumbria ceased to be an independent kingdom in the mid-tenth century, though a rump Earldom of Bamburgh survived around Bernicia in the north, later to be absorbed into the mediaeval kingdoms of Scotland and England.
Owain was likely a son of Dyfnwal, King of Strathclyde (died 908×915). Dyfnwal is specifically attested by only one source, the ninth- to twelfth-century Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, which reveals he died between 908 and 915.[note 3] Dyfnwal's parentage is unknown, although he might have been a member of the British dynasty that ruled Strathclyde before him. He could have been a son or grandson of Eochaid ap Rhun (fl.c.880). Alternately, Dyfnwal could have represented a more distant branch of the same dynasty.[note 4] In any case, the names borne by Owain and his apparent descendants suggest that he was indeed a member of the royal kindred of Strathclyde.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, or Scottish Chronicle, is a short written chronicle of the Kings of Alba, covering the period from the time of Kenneth MacAlpin until the reign of Kenneth II. W.F. Skene called it the Chronicle of the Kings of Scots, and some have called it the Older Scottish Chronicle, but Chronicle of the Kings of Alba is emerging as the standard scholarly name.
Circa – frequently abbreviated c., ca., or ca and less frequently circ. or cca. – signifies "approximately" in several European languages and as a loanword in English, usually in reference to a date. Circa is widely used in historical writing when the dates of events are not accurately known.
Æthelflæd's tripartite northern alliance
If the eleventh-century Fragmentary Annals of Ireland is to be believed, at some point between 911 and 918, Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians (died 918) orchestrated an alliance of Mercians, Scots, and Cumbrians, to combat the increasing menace of insular Scandinavians. The compact stipulated that, in the event that one of these three peoples were attacked, the others would come to their aid. The Cumbrians and Scots are further stated to have succeeded in destroying several Scandinavian settlements.[note 5] If this record is indeed accurate, one possibility is that, whilst the Scots focused upon Argyll and the Hebrides, the Cumbrians could have concentrated their efforts against the Scandinavian colonies in the Solway Firth. Although the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland states that a Scandinavian king "sacked Strathclyde and plundered the land", this attack is also said to have been "ineffectual". The unnamed attacking monarch may have been Ragnall ua Ímair (died 920/921), who likely controlled territory in western Northumbria at about this time. Another candidate is Sitriuc Cáech, an Uí Ímair kinsman of Ragnall, who is stated by the same source to have seized the kingship of Dublin before the attack. The leader of the Scots at that time was Custantín mac Áeda, King of Alba (died 952). The record of Dyfnwal's death before 915, and the evidence of Owain ruling the Kingdom of Strathclyde in the later decades, suggests that he succeeded Dyfnwal as king, and represented the realm in the alliance. The Cumbrians are not recorded to have received any assistance from Æthelflæd; this could indicate that they were attacked after her death in 918.
In the year of Æthelflæd's death, Ragnall and the Scots fought the bloody but inconclusive Battle of Corbridge, a clash attested by sources such as the fifteenth- to sixteenth-century Annals of Ulster, the ninth- to twelfth-century Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, and the tenth- or eleventh-century Historia de sancto Cuthberto. The conflict appears to have been associated with Custantín's attempt to reinsert the exiled Northumbrian magnate Ealdred (died 933), son of Eadwulf (died 913), into western Northumbria. Although the presence of Cumbrians in the campaign is not specifically recorded, it is possible that they too participated in the operations against the insular Scandinavians. In any event, Ragnall's ability to weather the attack seems to have led to his consolidation of authority in western Northumbria.
Edward's northern assembly of 920
In 920, the "A" version of the ninth- to twelfth-century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle alleges that Æthelflæd's brother, Edward, King of the Anglo-Saxons (died 924), gained the recognition of overlordship from Custantín (albeit not identified by name), Ragnall, the sons of Eadwulf (seemingly Ealdred and Uhtred), and an unnamed "king of the Strathclyde Welsh" ("Stræcledweala cyning")—a monarch who may well be identical to Owain himself.[note 6] The assembly may have taken place in the Peak District, a region where Edward had recently constructed a burh at Bakewell. In fact, this fortress could well have been the site of the meeting.
Despite the chronicle's claim of Edward's received submission, there is reason to suspect that the event was more a negotiation of sorts—perhaps an agreement concerning the recent reorientation of the political map. For example, Edward had recently gained control of Mercia and parts of Northumbria, while Ragnall acquired York in 919. The twelfth-century Chronicon ex chronicis states that a treaty of peace was concluded between the parties. One possibility is that the Scots and Cumbrians were bound not to attack Ragnall's territories in Northumbria as long as Ragnall refrained from conspiring against Edward's authority. The account of Ragnall's attacks upon the Cumbrians preserved by the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland seems to indicate that he was regarded as a serious threat. The evidence of Cumbrian southward expansion certainly suggests that Owain's realm shared several borders with the insular Scandinavians: an eastern front along the Pennines, a southern front along the River Eamont, and a western front along the coast and perhaps in Galloway. In any event, Ragnall and the sons of Eadwulf are not accorded royal titles in the context of this assembly—as opposed to the Scottish and Cumbrian kings—which could indicate that the Edward was claiming a degree of dominance over Ragnall and the Eadwulfings that he was not claiming over the other monarchs.
Æthelstan's northern assembly of 927
Owain may also have participated in an assembly of kings with Æthelstan, King of the Anglo-Saxons (died 939) in 927. According to the "D" version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the meeting took place at Eamotum, and was attended by Æthelstan, the Welsh king Hywel Dda (died 949/950), Custantín, Owain ap Hywel, King of Gwent (died c.930), and Ealdred. According to the twelfth-century Gesta regum Anglorum, an assembly took place at Dacre, an ecclesiastical centre near the River Eamont. The list of attendees in this source differs from that of the chronicle in the fact that Owain himself is listed instead of Owain ap Hywel.[note 7] In fact, the assemblies may well refer to the same event, and it is not unlikely that both Owains were present.[note 8] Whatever the case, Owain's involvement may have concerned support rendered to Gofraid ua Ímair (died 934), a man who temporarily seized the kingship of York in 927 before being driven out within the year by Æthelstan. Certainly, Gesta regum Anglorum states that Æthelstan summoned the Cumbrian and Scottish kings to the assembly after having forced Gofraid from York into Scotia.
The recorded location of the assemblage may be evidence that the Cumbrian realm reached as far south as the River Eamont. Certainly, it is an otherwise well-attested phenomenon of mediaeval European monarchs to negotiate with their neighbours on their common territorial boundaries. In fact, the contemporary Latin poem Carta, dirige gressus seems to not only corroborate the meeting itself, but may further evince the assembly's importance to the Cumbrians. Specifically, the poem states that Custantín hastened to Bryttanium in order to render his submission, and it is possible that this terminology refers to the Cumbrian realm (as opposed to the entire island of Britain). The sources that note the assembly, therefore, may reveal that it took place near the River Eamont at Dacre. Another possibility is that the meeting was set in the vicinity of Eamont Bridge, between the River Eamont and the River Lowther. Not far from this location are two prehistoric henges (Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur's Round Table) and the remains of a Roman fort (Brocavum), any of which could have served as the venue for an important assembly.[note 9] Whatever the case, Æthelstan's assembly in the north, and another convened near the Welsh border not long after, marked a turning point in the history of Britain. Not only did Æthelstan claim kingship over all the English peoples of Britain, but positioned himself as overking of Britain itself.
Æthelstan's invasion of 934
In 934, the concordat between Æthelstan and the northern kings collapsed in dramatic fashion, with the former launching an invasion into the north. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle relates that the English king penetrated into Alba with both land forces and maritime forces, and thereby ravaged much of the realm. Preparations for this massive undertaking appear to be evidenced by several royal charters dating to May and June of that year. The same sources appear to reveal that Æthelstan was supported on his campaign by the Welsh potentates Hywel Dda, Idwal Foel, King of Gwynedd (died 942), and Morgan ab Owain, King of Gwent. The fullest account of the English campaign is preserved by the twelfth-century Historia regum Anglorum, a source which states that Æthelstan's land forces marched as far as Dunnottar and Wertermorum, and that his maritime forces reached as far as Catenes (seemingly Caithness).[note 10] According to the twelfth-century Libellus de exordio, Owain and the Cumbrians were caught up in campaign, with Owain and his Scottish counterpart, Custantín, being put to flight by Æthelstan's forces. The Cumbrian realm, therefore, seems to have endured the same fate as that of the Scots. The reasons behind Æthelstan's campaign are uncertain. One possibility is that Owain and Custantín had broke certain pledges that they had rendered to the English in 927. Perhaps the latter reneged on a promise to render homage. According to Chronicon ex chronicis the King of Alba had indeed broke a treaty with Æthelstan, and that the former was forced to give up a son as an English hostage. Similarly, Gesta regum Anglorum states that Æthelstan invaded Alba because Custantín's realm was "again in revolt". Whether the invasion was unprovoked or orchestrated in revenge, it and another campaign directed against the Cumbrians eleven years later, could well have been utilised by the English Cerdicing dynasty as a way to overawe and intimidate neighbouring potentates.
Surviving charter evidence, dating to September 934, reveals that the defeated Custantín submitted to Æthelstan, and was then in the latter's presence witnessing a charter to one of English king's household men. The actual record of this charter is preseved by a fourteenth-century chartulary. Such mediaeval chartularies commonly abbreviated witness lists. Remarkably, no Welsh potentates are recorded by the witness list which could indicate that their names were not preserved by the chartulary. If correct, Owain himself could have been amongst the witnesses as well. Whatever the case, Owain certainly seems to have spent time in Æthelstan's court, attesting several of the latter's royal charters. For example, he appears to have witnessed one as a subregulus in Worthy dated 20 June 931, and one as a subregulus (with Custantín and three Welsh kings) in Cirencester dated 935, and two others as a subregulus (with three Welsh kings) in Dorchester dated 21 December 937.[note 12] The ordering of the witness lists in Æthelstan's surviving charters seems to reveal the eminent standing Owain enjoyed amongst his royal peers, and suggests that he was regarded as the third most powerful king in Britain, after Custantín and Æthelstan.
Defeat at Brunanburh in 937
Æthelstan's attempt to incorporate the northern kings into an imperial subreguli system—an arrangement he had earlier initiated with the rulers of Wales—was interrupted before the end of the decade. After 935, none of Æthelstan's subreguli are recorded in the king's presence. It may have been about this period in time when Custantín and Gofraid's son, Amlaíb (died 941), concluded the marital alliance referred to by Chronicon ex chronicis.[note 13] Certainly, Amlaíb consolidated power in Ireland between 934 and 936, before he crossed the Irish Sea and engaged the English at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937. Supporting Amlaíb against Æthelstan—the man who had forced Amlaíb's father from power in Northumbria—were the Scots and Cumbrians.[note 14] Described by the Annals of Ulster as "a great, lamentable and horrible battle", the English victory at Brunanburh was resounding military achievement for Æthelstan. Regardless of its significance to contemporaries and later generations, however, the precise location of Brunanburh is uncertain.
Owain may be identical to the Cumbrian king who is recorded to have participated. The sources that refer to the presence of this monarch—such as Historia regum Anglorum and Libellus de exordio—fail to identify the man by name. The battle is also the subject of the Battle of Brunanburh, a remarkable piece of praise poetry preserved by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. This panegyric—one of the most important sources for the conflict—claims that a son of Custantín was killed in the affair, and that five kings also lost their lives against the English. Although the Cumbrians are not specifically mentioned by the text, it is possible that the composer chose to leave them out due to technical constraints regarding the piece's metre and structure. By leaving out the Cumbrians and Owain, the poem presents the opposing sides symmetrically: the West Saxons and Mercians—led by Æthelstan and Edmund I (died 946)—versus the Scandinavians and Scots—led by Amlaíb and Custantín. Perhaps the Cumbrians' part in the conflict was overshadowed by the combatants; or maybe the poem's composer merely regarded Amlaíb's supporters to be sufficiently represented by the Scots alone. In any event, if Owain was indeed a participant in the conflict, it is possible that he was amongst those who perished.
It is possible that the scale of the casualties at Brunanburh—which seem to have weakened Æthelstan's forces as well as those of his opponents—could have been seized upon by the Cumbrians to further enable their expansion. Æthelstan's death in 939 would have also provided another window of opportunity to consolidate such territorial gains. In any event, it seems likely that either Owain, or his succeeding son Dyfnwal (died 975), submitted to Æthelstan soon after the clash at Brunanburh. The tenth-century Life of St Cathróe appears to reveal that Dyfnwal indeed possessed the kingship not terribly long afterwards. Owain, Dyfnwal, and the latter's son Máel Coluim (died 997), are attested by the tenth-century Saltair na Rann in a passage concerning the latter.
Æthelstan A, an unknown scribe who drafted several royal charters Owain witnessed
↑ Since the 2000s academics have accorded Owain various patronymic names in English secondary sources: Eogan mac Domnaill, and Owain ap Dyfnwal. Likewise, since the 1990s academics have accorded Owain various personal names in English secondary sources: Eogan,Eugenius,Owain,Owen, and Ywain.
↑ By about the 920s, the kingdom appears to have comprised much of what is today Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, Stirlingshire, Peebleshire, West Lothian, Mid Lothian, eastern Dumfriesshire, and Cumberland. The Old EnglishCumbras is a form of the WelshCymry, a designation likely used by both the northern and the more southerly Britons. Examples of the new terminology for the northern realm include Cumbra land and terra Cumbrorum, meaning "land of the Cumbrians". Such "Cumbrian" nomenclature is found in royal designations, suggesting that its adoption reflected the realm's political expansion. By the mid tenth century, the "Strathclyde" terminology seems to have been mostly superseded. The expansion of the Cumbrian kingdom may be perceptible in some of the place names of southern Scotland and northern England.
↑ One source that may contradict this annal is the "B" the ninth- to twelfth-century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (a version also known as the Mercian Register), which reports that Æthelflæd secured an alliance with the men of York in 918.
↑ This record is the last instance of the term Stræcledwealas to be used by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the population of the Cumbrian realm.
↑ Owain is styled rex Cumbrorum ("king of the Cumbrians") by this source.
↑ One explanation of this discrepancy is that, although both men were present at the assembly, the chronicle (or its source) conflated the like-named men. For example, the author of the entry in the chronicle—an entry which appears to date to the eleventh century—could have confused Owain with Owain ap Hywel. Another possibility is that both men were associated with the meeting in the sources from which the chronicle and Gesta regum Anglorum are derived. The reason why Owain came to be left out of one source, and Owain ap Hywel out of another, may be because later copyists mistakenly presumed that their sources were in error, and that only one king of the name was present. Yet another explanation is that only Owain was present at the assembly, and that the chronicle has mistaken him for Owain ap Hywel. Certainly, Gesta regum Anglorum records that Æthelstan met with several Welsh kings at Hereford later in 927. As such, there may have been little reason for Owain ap Hywel to attend the northern meeting.
↑ Two silver hoards (Penrith Hoard) unearthed in Flusco Pike, near Penrith, date to the 920s/930s. These hoards could have been deposited in connection with the assembly of kings.
↑ Either Owain himself, or his like-named grandson Owain ap Dyfnwal (died 1015), or else their ultimate royal successor Owain Foel (fl. 1018), may be identical to Owain Caesarius, a legendary figure associated with an assemblage of apparent tenth-century monuments at Penrith collectively known as The Giant's Grave. The nearby site of Castle Hewin (grid referenceNY48544627), a place name meaning "Owain's castle" (derived from castell Ewain), may well be named after the same man. A seventeenth-century account associates Owain Caesarius with the Giant's Caves, located on the north bank of the River Eamont.
↑ The Latin term subregulus (plural subreguli) that appears in Æthelstan's charters, can translate to "sub-king", "under-king", "little under-king", and "subordinate ruler". The form of Owain's name in these charters is Eugenius. This name is Latin, and can represent the Gaelic names Éugan, Éogan, and the Old Welsh/CumbricEugen, Eugein (the Modern Welsh Owain).
↑ This dynastic alliance may lay behind a particularly garbled statement preserved by the somewhat fictionalised thirteenth-century Egils saga, which claims that the leader of the Scandinavians at the Battle of Brunanburh, identified by the saga as a Scottish king named Óláfr rauði, was Scottish on his father's side and Danish on his mother's side.
↑ The twelfth-century Estoire des Engleis states that the insular Scandinavians were supported by Scots, Cumbrians, Gallovidians, and Picts.Egils saga makes note of treacherous Welsh chieftains (Bretar), men who appear to refer to Cumbrians.
Constantine, son of Áed was an early King of Scotland, known then by the Gaelic name Alba. The Kingdom of Alba, a name which first appears in Constantine's lifetime, was situated in modern-day Scotland. The core of the kingdom was formed by the lands around the River Tay. Its southern limit was the River Forth, northwards it extended towards the Moray Firth and perhaps to Caithness, while its western limits are uncertain. Constantine's grandfather Kenneth I of Scotland was the first of the family recorded as a king, but as king of the Picts. This change of title, from king of the Picts to king of Alba, is part of a broader transformation of Pictland and the origins of the Kingdom of Alba are traced to Constantine's lifetime.
Æthelstan or Athelstan was King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and King of the English from 927 to 939 when he died. He was the son of King Edward the Elder and his first wife, Ecgwynn. Modern historians regard him as the first King of England and one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings. He never married and had no children. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund.
Cuilén was an early King of Alba (Scotland). He was a son of Illulb mac Custantín, King of Alba, after whom he is known by the patronymic mac Illuilb of Clann Áeda meic Cináeda, a branch of the Alpínid dynasty. During the 10th century, the Alpínids rotated the kingship of Alba between two main dynastic branches. Dub mac Maíl Choluim, a member of a rival branch of the kindred, seems to have succeeded after Illulb's death in 962. Cuilén soon after challenged him but was defeated in 965. Dub was eventually expelled and slain in 966/967. Whether Cuilén was responsible for his death is uncertain.
Eochaid was a ninth-century Briton who may have ruled as King of Strathclyde and/or King of the Picts. He was a son of Rhun ab Arthgal, King of Strathclyde, and descended from a long line of British kings. Eochaid's mother is recorded to have been a daughter of Cináed mac Ailpín, King of the Picts. This maternal descent from the royal Alpínid dynasty may well account for the record of Eochaid reigning over the Pictish realm after the death of Cináed's son, Áed, in 878. According to various sources, Áed was slain by Giric, a man of uncertain ancestry, who is also accorded kingship after Áed's demise.
Suibne mac Cináeda was an eleventh-century ruler of the Gall Gaidheil, a population of mixed Scandinavian and Gaelic ethnicity. There is little known of Suibne as he is only attested in three sources that record the year of his death. He seems to have ruled in a region where Gall Gaidheil are known to have dwelt: either the Hebrides, the Firth of Clyde region, or somewhere along the south-western coast of Scotland from the Firth of Clyde southwards into Galloway.
Arthgal ap Dyfnwal was a ninth-century King of Alt Clut. He descended from a long line of rulers of the British Kingdom of Alt Clut. Either he or his father, Dyfnwal ap Rhydderch, King of Alt Clut, may have reigned when the Britons are recorded to have burned Pictish ecclesiastical site of Dunblane in 849.
Rhun ab Arthgal was a ninth-century King of Strathclyde. He is the only known son of Arthgal ap Dyfnwal, King of Alt Clut. In 870, during the latter's reign, the fortress of Alt Clut was captured by Vikings, after which the Arthgal and his family may have been amongst the mass of prisoners taken back to Ireland. Two years later Arthgal is recorded to have been slain at the behest of Causantín mac Cináeda, King of the Picts. The circumstances surrounding this regicide are unknown. The fact that Rhun seems to have been Causantín's brother-in-law could account for Causantín's interference in the kingship of Alt Clut.
Rhydderch ap Dyfnwal was an eminent tenth-century Cumbrian who slew Cuilén mac Illuilb, King of Alba in 971. Rhydderch was possibly a son of Dyfnwal ab Owain, King of Strathclyde, and could have ruled as King of Strathclyde. Rhydderch appears on record in about 971, when he is said to have killed Cuilén mac Illuilb, King of Alba, a man said to have abducted and raped Rhydderch's daughter. Following Cuilén's death, the Cumbrian Kingdom of Strathclyde endured an invasion by Cuilén's successor, Cináed mac Maíl Choluim, King of Alba. This Scottish attack could have been a retaliatory raid for Rhydderch's actions, and may have been undertaken in the context of restoring Scottish authority over the Cumbrian realm. If Rhydderch ever ruled as king it must have been before 973, when Dyfnwal's son, Máel Coluim, is accorded the title king.
Máel Coluim was a tenth-century King of Strathclyde. He was a younger son of Dyfnwal ab Owain, King of Strathclyde, and thus a member of the Cumbrian dynasty that had ruled the kingdom for generations. Máel Coluim's Gaelic name could indicate that he was born during either an era of amiable relations with the Scots, or else during a period of Scottish overlordship. In 945, the Edmund I, King of the English invaded the kingdom, and appears to have granted the Scots permission to dominate the Cumbrians. The English king is further reported to have blinded several of Máel Coluim's brothers in an act that could have been an attempt to deprive Dyfnwal of an heir.
Owain Foel, also known as Owain Moel, Owain the Bald, Owen the Bald, and Eugenius Calvus, was an eleventh-century King of Strathclyde. He may have been a son of Máel Coluim, son of Dyfnwal ab Owain, two other rulers of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Owain Foel is recorded to have supported the Scots at the Battle of Carham in 1018. Although it is possible that he died in the conflict, no source states as much, and it is uncertain when he died. Owain Foel may be an ancestor—perhaps the father—of a certain Máel Coluim who is described as the "son of the king of the Cumbrians" in the 1050s.
Dunmail Raise is the name of a large cairn in the English Lake District, which may have been an old boundary marker. It has given its name to the mountain pass of Dunmail Raise, on which it stands. This mountain pass forms part of the only low-level route through the mountains between the northern and southern sides of the Lake District. According to local tradition, the cairn marked the burial of a king named Dunmail who was slain by Saxons. The place name itself may well be derived from the name of the historical Dyfnwal ab Owain, King of Strathclyde.
Amlaíb mac Illuilb was a tenth-century King of Alba. He was one of three sons of Illulb mac Custantín, King of Alba, and a member of Clann Áeda meic Cináeda, a branch of the Alpínid dynasty. Amlaíb's paternal grandfather possessed strong connections with the Scandinavian dynasty of Dublin, and there is evidence to suggest that Illulb and Amlaíb bore names of Old Norse origin. If Amlaíb's name indeed represents a Gaelicised Scandinavian name, it could indicate that his mother was a member of the Uí Ímair, and possibly a granddaughter of Amlaíb Cúarán or Amlaíb mac Gofraid.
Maccus mac Arailt was a tenth-century King of the Isles. Although his parentage is uncertain, surviving evidence suggests that he was the son of Aralt mac Sitriuc, King of Limerick. Maccus' family is known as the Meic Arailt kindred. He and his brother, Gofraid, are first recorded in the 970s. It was during this decade and the next that they conducted military operations against the Welsh of Anglesey, apparently taking advantage of dynastic strife within the Kingdom of Gwynedd.
Ragnall mac Gofraid was King of the Isles and likely a member of the Uí Ímair kindred. He was a son of Gofraid mac Arailt, King of the Isles. Ragnall and Gofraid flourished at a time when the Kingdom of the Isles seems to have suffered from Orcadian encroachment at the hands of Sigurðr Hlǫðvisson, Earl of Orkney. Gofraid died in 989. Although Ragnall is accorded the kingship upon his own death in 1004 or 1005, the succession after his father's death is uncertain.
Gebeachan, also known as Gébennach, and Gebechán, was a tenth-century King of the Isles. He seems to have been a subordinate to Amlaíb mac Gofraid, King of Dublin, and is recorded to have fought and died at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937.
Owain ap Dyfnwal may have been an eleventh-century ruler of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. He seems to have been a son of Dyfnwal ab Owain, King of Strathclyde, and may well have succeeded Dyfnwal's son, Máel Coluim, King of Strathclyde. During Owain's reign, he would have faced a massive invasion by Æthelræd II, King of the English. Owain's death is recorded in 1015, and seems to have been succeeded by Owain Foel, a man who may have been his nephew.
Domnall mac Áeda, also known as Domnall Dabaill, was a King of Ailech. He was a son of Áed Findliath mac Néill, High King of Ireland. Domnall was a half-brother of Niall Glúndub mac Áeda, a man with whom he shared the kingship of Ailech.
Máel Coluim was an eleventh-century magnate who seems to have been established as either King of Alba or King of Strathclyde. In 1055, Siward, Earl of Northumbria defeated Mac Bethad mac Findlaích, the reigning ruler of the Kingdom of Alba. As a result of this military success against the Scots, several sources assert that Siward established Máel Coluim as king. It is uncertain whether this concerned the kingship of Alba or the kingship of Strathclyde.
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