List of kings of the Picts
The list of kings of the Picts is based on the Pictish Chronicle king lists. These are late documents and do not record the dates when the kings reigned. The various surviving lists disagree in places as to the names of kings, and the lengths of their reigns. A large portion of the lists, not reproduced here, belongs with the Caledonian or Irish mythology. The latter parts of the lists can largely be reconciled with other sources.
Pictish kings ruled in northern and eastern Scotland. In 843 tradition records the replacement of the Pictish kingdom by the Kingdom of Alba, although the Irish annals continue to use Picts and Fortriu for half a century after 843. The king lists are thought to have been compiled in the early 8th century, probably by 724, placing them in the reigns of the sons of Der-Ilei, Bridei and Nechtan.
Irish annals (the Annals of Ulster, Annals of Innisfallen) refer to some kings as king of Fortriu or king of Alba. The kings listed are thought to represent overkings of the Picts, at least from the time of Bridei son of Maelchon onwards. In addition to these overkings, many less powerful subject kings existed, of whom only a very few are known from the historical record.
Mythical kings of the Picts are listed in the Lebor Bretnach's account of the origins of the Cruithne. The list begins with Cruithne son of Cing, who is reported to be "father of the Picts". The account of the Pictish Chronicle then splits into four lists of names:
- The first is a list of the sons of Cruithne.
- The second is a list of early kings with no distinguishing information other than dates.
- The third is another list of early kings with neither stories nor dates, all of whom have two names that begin with "Brude". It is possible that "Brude" is an ancient title for "king" from another source, which was misinterpreted as a name by the compiler (cf. Skene p.cv).
- The fourth is a list of later kings. The first of these to be attested in an independent source is Galam Cennalath.
The dates given here are drawn from early sources, unless specifically noted otherwise. The relationships between kings are less than certain and rely on modern readings of the sources.
Orthography is problematic. Cinioch, Ciniod and Cináed all represent ancestors of the modern Anglicised name Kenneth. Pictish "uu", sometimes printed as "w" corresponds with Gaelic "f", so that Uuredach is the Gaelic Feredach and Uurguist the Gaelic Fergus, or perhaps Forgus. As the Dupplin Cross inscription shows, the idea that Irish sources Gaelicised Pictish names may not be entirely accurate.
Kings of the Picts
Colouring indicates groups of kings presumed to be related.
|312–342||Vipoig||Reigned 30 years|
|342–345||Canutulachama||Reigned 4 years|
|345–347||Vuradech||Reigned 2 years|
|347–387||Gartnait||Reigned 40 years|
|412–452||Drest||Drest son of Erp||First king of the Pictish Chronicle lists whose reign includes a synchronism (the coming of Saint Patrick to Ireland; "ruled a hundred years and fought a hundred battles"|
|452–456||Talorc||Talorc son of Aniel||An entry in the king lists; reigned 2 or 4 years|
|456–480||Nechtan||Nechtan son of Uuirp (or Erip), Nechtan the Great, Nechtan Celcamoth||Possibly a brother of Drest son of Erp||The foundation of the monastery at Abernethy is fathered on this king, almost certainly spuriously. A similar name nehhtton(s) was found on the Lunnasting stone; one interpretator of which suggested it containing the phrase "the vassal of Nehtonn"|
|480–510||Drest||Drest Gurthinmoch (or Gocinecht)||An entry in the king lists; reigned 30 years|
|510–522||Galan||Galan Erilich or Galany||An entry in the king lists|
|522–530||Drest||Drest son of Uudrost (or Hudrossig)||An entry in the king lists|
|522–531||Drest||Drest son of Girom (or Gurum)||An entry in the king lists|
|531–537||Gartnait||Garthnac son of Girom, Ganat son of Gigurum||An entry in the king lists|
|537–538||Cailtram||Cailtram son of Girom, Kelturan son of Gigurum||Brother of the preceding Gartnait||An entry in the king lists|
|538–549||Talorc||Talorc son of Murtolic, Tolorg son of Mordeleg||An entry in the king lists|
|549–550||Drest||Drest son of Manath, Drest son of Munait||An entry in the king lists|
Early historical kings
The first king who appears in multiple early sources is Bridei son of Maelchon, and kings from the later 6th century onwards may be considered historical as their deaths are generally reported in Irish sources.
|550–555||Galam||Galam Cennalath||The death of "Cennalaph, king of the Picts" is recorded, may have ruled jointly with Bridei son of Maelchon|
|554–584||Bridei|| Bridei son of Maelchon
Brude son of Melcho
|His death and other activities are recorded, he is named in Adomnán's Life of Saint Columba; the first Pictish king to be more than a name in a list|
|584–595||Gartnait||Gartnait son of Domelch, Gernard son of Dompneth|
|595–616||Nechtan|| Nechtan grandson of Uerb
Nechtan son of Cano
|His reign is placed in the time of Pope Boniface IV|
|616–631||Cinioch|| Cinioch son of Lutrin
Kinet son of Luthren
|631–635||Gartnait||Gartnait son of Uuid||Brother of the following two kings|
|635–641||Bridei||Bridei son of Uuid or son of Fochle||Brother of the preceding and following kings|
|641–653||Talorc||Talorc son of Uuid or son of Foth||Brother of the preceding two kings|
|653–657||Talorgan||Talorgan son of Eanfrith||Son of Eanfrith of Bernicia|
|657–663||Gartnait||Gartnait son of Donnel or son of Dúngal|
|663–672||Drest||Drest son of Donnel or son of Dúngal|
Later historical kings
|672–693||Bridei||Bridei son of Bili||Son of Beli I of Alt Clut or grandson of Nechtan II||At war with the Scots in 683. Defeated Ecgfrith of Northumbria at the Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685.|
|693–697||Taran||Taran son of Ainftech||Possibly a uterine half-brother of Bridei and Nechtan mac Der-Ilei|
|697–706||Bridei||Bridei son of Der-Ilei||Brother of Nechtan||Son of Der-Ilei, a Pictish princess, and Dargart mac Finnguine, a member of the Cenél Comgaill of Dál Riata; listed as a guarantor of the Cáin Adomnáin|
|706–724||Nechtan||Nechtan son of Der-Ilei||Brother of Bridei||Adopted the Roman dating of Easter c. 712, a noted founder of churches and monasteries|
|724–726||Drest||Perhaps son of a half-brother of Nechtan and Bridei||Succeeded Nechtan, imprisoned him in 726, may have been deposed that year by Alpín|
|726–728||Alpín||Probably a co-ruler or subking under Drest|
|Nechtan son of Der-Ilei, second reign|
|729–761||Onuist||Onuist son of Vurguist||Evidence suggests he was from Angus or the Mearns.||...dominated northern Britain in the middle third of the eighth century like no king before him. To Gaelic observers he was Oengus son of Fergus, the Pictish king responsible for 'smiting' Dal Riata... His military and other interventions among the Gaels were unprecedented, and unparalleled in (recorded) Pictish history. He seems to have negotiated successfully with the paramount king in Ireland and may even have invaded that country, a feat not matched until the fourteenth century. In some English records he was Unust... He is the first Pictish king known to have invaded Northumbria, but he also established a peace treaty with his English neighbours. He is the first Pictish king known to have invaded Clydesdale too, ushering in a new age of royal ambition south of the Antonine Wall that culminated in the Scottish annexations of Lothian and Strathclyde in the tenth and eleventh centuries. No other king of Picts attracted the sustained interest of English or Irish chroniclers. He was an ally of Aedibald of Mercia, the greatest English king of the age, and the first king of Picts to be commemorated in the source of the Durham Liber vitae. Considering the unprecedented progress he made in extending Pictish hegemony across Scotland, Onuist is arguably the most important monarch in the founding of the Scottish nation.|
|736–750||Talorcan||Talorcan son of Fergus||Brother of Óengus||Perhaps king of Atholl; killed in battle against the Britons of Alt Clut|
|761–763||Bridei||Bridei son of Fergus||Brother of Onuist||King of Fortriu|
|763–775||Ciniod||Ciniod son of Uuredach, Cinadhon||Sometimes thought to be a grandson of Selbach mac Ferchair||Granted asylum to the deposed King Alhred of Northumbria|
|775–778||Alpín||Alpin son of Uuroid||Death reported as Eilpín, king of the Saxons but this is taken to be an error|
|778–782||Talorc||Talorc son of Drest||Death reported in the Ulster Annals|
|782–783||Drest||Drest son of Talorgan||Son of the preceding Talorgan or of Talorgan, brother of Óengus|
|783–785||Talorc||Talorgan son of Onuist, also Dub Tholarg||Son of Óengus|
|785–789||Conall||Conall son of Tarla (or of Tadg)||Perhaps rather a king in Dál Riata|
|789–820||Caustantín||Caustantín son of Fergus||A grandson or grandnephew of Onuist or perhaps a son of Fergus mac Echdach||His son Domnall may have been king of Dál Riata|
|820–834||Óengus||Óengus son of Fergus||Brother of Caustantín|
|834–837||Drest||Drest son of Caustantín||Son of Caustantín|
|834–837||Talorc||Talorcan son of Wthoil|
|837–839||Eógan||Eógan son of Óengus||Son of Óengus||Killed in 839 with his brother Bran in battle against the Vikings; this led to a decade of conflict|
Kings of the Picts 839–848 (not successively)
The deaths of Eógan and Bran appear to have led to a large number of competitors for the throne of Pictland.
|839–842||Uurad||Uurad son of Bargoit||Unknown||Said to have reigned for three years, probably named on the Drosten Stone|
|842–843||Bridei VI||Bridei son of Uurad||Possibly the son of the previous king||Said to have reigned one year|
|843||Ciniod II||Kenneth son of Ferath||Possibly the brother of the previous king||Said to have reigned one year in some lists|
|843–845||Bridei VII||Brudei son of Uuthoi||Unknown||Said to have reigned two years in some lists|
|845–848||Drest X||Drest son of Uurad||As previous sons of Uurad||Said to have reigned three years in some lists; the myth of MacAlpin's treason calls the Pictish king Drest|
13 February 858
|Cináed|| Ciniod son of Elphin
Cináed mac Ailpín
|Unknown, but his descendants made him a member of the Cenél nGabráin of Dál Riata|
Kings of the Picts traditionally counted as King of Scots
Cináed mac Ailpín defeated the rival kings, winning out by around 845–848. He is traditionally considered first "King of Scots", or of "Picts and Scots", allegedly having conquered the Picts as a Gael, which is turning history back to front, as most modern scholars point out, he was actually 'King of Picts', and the terms 'King of Alba' and the even later 'King Scots' were not used until several generations after him.
|Died 13 February 858||Cináed|| Ciniod son of Elphin
Cináed mac Ailpín
Coinneach mac Ailpein
|Unknown, but his descendants made him a member of the Cenél nGabráin of Dál Riata|
|Died 862||Domnall|| Domnall mac Ailpín
Dòmhnall mac Ailpein
|Brother of Cináed|
|Died 877||Causantín|| Causantín mac Cináeda
Còiseam mac Choinnich
Constantín mac Cináeda
|Son of Cináed|
|Died 878||Áed|| Áed mac Cináeda
Aodh mac Choinnich
|Son of Cináed|
|Deposed 889 ?||Giric|| Giric mac Dúngail
Griogair mac Dhunghail
"Mac Rath" ("Son of Fortune")
|Cináed's daughter's son ?||Associated, probably incorrectly, with Eochaid|
|Died 900||Domnall|| Domnall mac Causantín
Dòmhnall mac Chòiseim
"Dásachtach" ("The Madman")
|Son of Causantín mac Cináeda||Last to be called "king of the Picts"|
King of Alba
|Abdicated 943, died 952||Causantín|| Causantín mac Áeda
Còiseam mac Aoidh
|Son of Áed mac Cináeda||First king of Alba, the kingdom that later became known as "Scotland".|
James E. Fraser, The New Edinburgh History Of Scotland Vol.1 – From Caledonia To Pictland, Edinburgh University Press (2009) ISBN 978-0-7486-1232-1
Alex Woolf, The New Edinburgh History Of Scotland Vol.2 – From Pictland To Alba, Edinburgh University Press, (2007) ISBN 978-0-7486-1234-5
- Woolf, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered", p. 153.
- Other names are only given where they differ significantly. See also Names above
- Salway, Peter. "Kings of Pictland (Caledonia)". 2014. The History Files. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
- Bannerman, pp. 92–94, identifies this Gartnait with Gartnait son of Áedán mac Gabráin, founder of the "genus Gartnait" of Skye.
- Woolf, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered, pp. 160–161, suggests has been suggested that "grandson of Uerb" should be read son of Uerb. Alternatively, it has been suggested that Uerb may represent a legendary apical ancestor such as the Fer map Con in the ancestry of Run map Artgal in the Harleian genealogies. The sons of Uuid are presumed to be related.
- For the identification as a son of Cano, grandson of Áedán mac Gabráin, see Bannerman, pp. 92–93.
- Another list names Nechtan son of Fochle.
- James Fraser, From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795, p. 288
- Previously thought to have been an Irish gaelicisation, now known to be an authentic form of his name found on the Dupplin Cross.
- Grandson or grandnephew of Onuist per Broun, "Pictish kings", son of Fergus mac Echdach in older works.
For primary sources, see External links below
- Adomnán, Life of St Columba, tr. & ed. Richard Sharpe. Penguin, London, 1995. ISBN 0-14-044462-9
- Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History A.D 500–1286, volume 1. Reprinted with corrections. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
- Bannerman, John, Studies in the History of Dalriada. Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, 1974. ISBN 0-7011-2040-1
- Bannerman, John. "The Scottish Takeover of Pictland and the relics of Columba" in Dauvit Broun and Thomas Owen Clancy (eds.) Spes Scotorum: Saint Columba, Iona and Scotland. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1999 ISBN 0-567-08682-8
- Broun, Dauvit, "Dunkeld and the origin of Scottish identity" in Broun & Clancy (1999).
- Broun, Dauvit, "Pictish Kings 761–839: Integration with Dál Riata or Separate Development" in Sally M. Foster (ed.), The St Andrews Sarcophagus: A Pictish masterpiece and its international connections. Four Courts, Dublin, 1998. ISBN 1-85182-414-6
- Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Caustantín son of Fergus (Uurgust)" in M. Lynch (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Scottish History. Oxford & New York: Oxford UP, 2002. ISBN 0-19-211696-7
- Herbert, Máire, "Ri Éirenn, Ri Alban: kingship and identity in the ninth and tenth centuries" in Simon Taylor (ed.), Kings, clerics and chronicles in Scotland 500–1297. Fourt Courts, Dublin, 2000. ISBN 1-85182-516-9
- Skene, William F. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots, and other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867.
- Smyth, Alfred P. Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000. Reprinted, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1998. ISBN 0-7486-0100-7
- Woolf, Alex, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered" in The Innes Review, Volume XLIV, Number 2 (Autumn 1998). ISSN 0020-157X
- Woolf, Alex, "Ungus (Onuist), son of Uurgust" in M. Lynch (2002).
- Norway book : "Jomsvikingslaget i oppklarende lys", informs the Pictish kings escaped to the coast of Norway, instead of being murdered at Scone
- CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts at University College Cork
- The Corpus of Electronic Texts includes the Annals of Ulster, Tigernach, the Four Masters and Innisfallen, the Chronicon Scotorum, the Lebor Bretnach (which includes the Duan Albanach), Genealogies, and various Saints' Lives. Most are translated into English, or translations are in progress
- Annals of Clonmacnoise at Cornell
- Linguistic analysis of legendary kings