Kenneth III of Scotland

Kenneth III of Scotland
Kenneth III
King of Alba
Reign 997–1005
Predecessor Constantine III
Successor Malcolm II
Boite mac Cináeda ?
Gille Coemgáin ?
Giric ?
House Alpin
Father Dub, King of Alba
Born before 967
Died 25 March 1005(1005-03-25)
Burial Iona

Cináed mac Duib (Modern Gaelic: Coinneach mac Dhuibh)[1] anglicised as Kenneth III, and nicknamed An Donn, "the Chief" or "the Brown",[2] (before 967–25 March 1005) was King of Scots from 997 to 1005. He was the son of Dub (Dub mac Maíl Coluim). Many of the Scots sources refer to him as Giric son of Kenneth son of Dub, which is taken to be an error.[3]

The only event reported in Kenneth's reign is the killing of Dúngal mac Cináeda by Gille Coemgáin mac Cináeda, by the Annals of the Four Masters s.a. 999. It is not certain that this refers to events in Scotland, and whether one or both were sons of this Kenneth, or of Kenneth II of Scotland, or some other person or persons, is not known.[4] Kenneth was killed in battle at Monzievaird in Strathearn by Malcolm II (Máel Coluim mac Cináeda) in 1005.[5]

Whether Boite mac Cináeda was a son of this Kenneth, or of Kenneth II, is uncertain, although most propose this Kenneth. A son, or grandson of Boite, was reported to be killed by Malcolm II in 1032 in the Annals of Ulster.[6]

Kenneth's granddaughter, Gruoch daughter of Boite (Gruoch ingen Boite meic Cináeda) — Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth — was wife firstly of Gille Coemgáin, Mormaer of Moray, and secondly of King Macbeth; her son by Gille Coemgáin, Lulach (Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin), would briefly succeed Macbeth as King of Scotland. The meic Uilleim, descendants of William fitz Duncan by his first marriage, were probably descended from Kenneth; and the Clann Mac Aoidh or Clan Mackay claim descent from Kenneth III through Lulach's daughter.[7]


  1. ^ Cináed mac Duib is the Mediaeval Gaelic form.
  2. ^ The former is probable because later English-speaking sources called him "Grim"; Old Irish donn has similar meaning to Old English greimm, which means "power" or "authority"; see Skene, Chronicles, p. 98; Hudson, Celtic Kings, p. 105.
  3. ^ Duncan, p. 22; Smyth, pp. 220–221 and 225, prefers to assume that Kenneth had a son, Giric, who ruled jointly with his father; also ESSH, p.522, note 4.
  4. ^ ESSH, p.520, note 5; Smyth, pp. 221–222, makes Gille Coemgáin the son of this Kenneth following ESSH, p. 580.
  5. ^ Annals of Ulster and Chronicon Scotorum, s.a. 1005; the various versions of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba and the Prophecy of Berchán agree on the site of the battle; ESSH, pp 522–524. Duncan, p. 22, suggests that the killer's name should be read as Giric mac Cináeda, "Giric son of Kenneth", a brother of Malcolm. If not, this Giric was presumably also killed at about this time.
  6. ^ This Cináed and Boite's son, Smyth, pp. 220–221; Duncan, p. 32. See also ESSH, p. 571, note 7.
  7. ^ Duncan, pp. 102–103.


For primary sources see also External links below.

  • 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
  • Duncan, A.A.M., The Kingship of the Scots 842–1292: Succession and Independence. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2002. ISBN 0-7486-1626-8
  • Smyth, Alfred P. Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000. Reprinted, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1998. ISBN 0-7486-0100-7

External links

Kenneth III of Scotland
Born: before 967 Died: 25 March 1005
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Constantine (Causantín) III
King of Scots
Succeeded by
Malcolm (Máel Coluim) II

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