K is for…


K is for….



I’m a big history nerd, I admit it! The history of Scotland is close to my heart. I love it.



By the end of the seventh century, the four kingdoms of Alban were united in the Christian faith, but not much else.

Even the constant raids of the Norsemen, beginning in the eighth century and culminating in the conquest of Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Caithness and Sutherland, (where, in many areas, the non-Celtic Pictish tongue was replaced by the Scandinavian Norn), could not bring the four kingdoms together in a common cause.

Picts and Scots, with their own separate languages, were still enemies; and the Welsh-speaking Britons of Strathclyde were desperately trying to hold on to their culture in the face of ever-increasing hostility from the Angles of Lothian and Northumbria.

A semblance of unity among the warring societies of the Picts, Scots, Britons and Angles did eventually arrive, however, by the year 843, thanks to the determined efforts of Kenneth MacAlpin, King of the Scots of Dalriada, who claimed the throne of the Picts after he had defeated them in battle. He created his capital at Forteviot, in Pictish territory; moved his religious center to Dunkeld, on the River Tay, in present-day Perthshire, where he transferred the remains of St. Columba from Iona.

According to the Huntingdon Chronicle, MacAlpin “was the first of the Scots to obtain the monarchy of the whole of Albania, which is now called Scotia.” From that time on, the Picts, the tattooed or painted people, have remained a shadowy, poorly documented race. It is a pity that no Pictish literature has survived. All we have are the sculptured stones with their remarkable designs incised that show warriors, huntsmen and churchmen.

In 1018, under MacAlpin’s descendant Malcolm II, the Angles were finally defeated in this northerly part of Britain and Lothian came under Scottish rule. In the same year, the British (Celtic) King of Strathclyde died leaving no heir; his throne went to Malcolm’s grandson Duncan. In 1034, Duncan became King of a much-expanded Scotland that included Pict-land, Scotland, Lothian, Cumbria and Strathclyde. It excluded large tracts in the north, the Shetlands, Orkneys and the Western Isles, which were held by the Scandinavians.

When David died in 1153, the kingdom of Scotland had been extended to include the Modern English counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmoreland, territories that were in future to be held by the kings of Scotland.

At the Treaty of Perth, 1266, the Western Isles and the Isle of Man were ceded to Scotland.

Orkney and Shetland remained under the control of the Norwegians until 1468 when James II of Scotland married Margaret, daughter of Christian I of Denmark. Orkney and Shetland were part of the dowry. Further, in 1470, the Earl of Orkney resigned his territories in exchange for lands in Fife, thus giving James II all the lands and rights in the northern isles.

Scotland was very much a different place than it is today!


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