List of Kings of Dál Riata

List of Kings of Dál Riata

This is a List of the Kings of Dál Riata, a kingdom of uncertain origins which was located in Scotland and Ireland. Most kings of Dál Riata, along with later rulers of Alba and of Scotland, traced their descent from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, and even in the 16th century, James VI of Scotland called himself the "happie monarch sprung of Ferguse race".


It is not until the middle of the 6th century that Irish annals plausibly report the deaths of kings of Dál Riata, with the death of Comgall mac Domangairt, c. 538-545, and of his brother Gabrán, c. 558-560. The last attested kings of Dál Riata are Fergus mac Echdach, brother and successor to Áed Find, whose death is reported in the Annals of Ulster in 781. It is thought that the original king-lists from which the High Medieval accounts were derived ended with Fergus. After Fergus the history of Dál Riata is very uncertain, althouhgh there is a report of the death in 792 of Donncoirce ("Dorm Corci, king of Dál Riata"), but of whom nothing more is known.

Dál Riata was divided into a number of kingroups or dynasties, called "cenéla", of which the Cenél nGabráin of Kintyre, who claimed descent from Gabrán mac Domangairt, and the Cenél Loairn, who claimed descent from Fergus Mór's son Loarn, dominated the kingship. Given the nature of early medieval genealogies, and the doubts expressed even by contemporary writers, such as the compiler of the Senchus fer n-Alban, it would be unwise to place too much reliance on such claims.

The annals are not entirely consistent in naming kings. For example, is there a real difference between a "king of Dál Riata" and a "lord of Dál Riata"? A possible source of confusion is that the neighbouring cruithne kingdom of Dál nAraide in Ulster was similar in name when latinised as Dalaradia, while Dál Riata became Dalriada, so that it is possible that some of the more obscure rulers may have been misattributed to Dál Riata. It has been proposed, but with little support, that the Irish part of Dál Riata had a separate existence from the Scottish part after the middle of the 7th century, so that one king ruled in Ireland while another ruled in Scotland.

Kings of Dál Riata

Kings before the Battle of Mag Rath


The main sources for the kings of Dál Riata include:
* The Annals of Ulster
* The Annals of Tigernach
* The Senchus Fer n-Alban
* The Synchronisms of Flann Mainistrech of Monasterboice
* The Duan Albanach
* Adomnán of Iona's "Life of Saint Columba"
* A variety of genealogies for later kings of Alba.

Less reliable sources may include:
* The Annals of Innisfallen
* The Chronicon Scotorum
* The Annals of the Four Masters
* The Annals of Clonmacnoise

Interpretation of these sources remains problematic. Many entries which appear to refer to Dál Riata lack context, many persons named lack patronyms or other identifying bynames. There are many disagreements among sources. Some entries have been amended and expanded at a later time.


"For primary sources, see also the articles mentioned above and" 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" in Dauvit Broun & Thomas Owen Clancy (eds.) "Spes Scotorum: Hope of Scots. Saint Columba, Iona and Scotland." T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1999. ISBN 0-567-08682-2
* Broun, Dauvit, "The Irish Identity of the Kingdom of the Scots in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries." Boydell, Woodbridge, 1999. ISBN 0-85115-375-5
* 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
* Sharpe, Richard, "The thriving of Dalriada" in Simon Taylor (ed.), "Kings, clerics and chronicles in Scotland 500–1297." Fourt Courts, Dublin, 2000. ISBN 1-85182-516-9

External links

* [ 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]

ee also

*Kings of the Picts
*Kings of Strathclyde
*Kings of Scots

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