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Norsemen, getting scent of its possessions, were tempted to press on to that very inaccessible spot in one of their plundering expeditions, said to have been headed by the half-mythical hero, Regner Lodbroc.
The religious community so arising in Dunkeld was one of those which afterwards became so famous under the title of Culdees. Of these, as the term did not come into use until a later period, it will be as well to reserve mention until we reach another epoch in the ecclesiastical history of the country.
Narrative to the Union of the Scots and Picts.
HISTORY AFTER THE DEPARTURE OF THE ROMANS--STRATHCLYDE
AND ITS DYNASTY-DISAPPEARANCE FROM HISTORY-PICTLAND -BATTLE OF NECHTANS-MERE-ITS INFLUENCE ON THE ADJUSTMENT OF A NATIONAL BOUNDARY-THE EXTINCTION OF THE SEPARATE PICTISH NATIONALITY—THE SCOTS—THEIR IRISH ORIGIN-CARBER RIADHA-FERGUS-AIDAN AND THE ADJUSTMENT OF THE DYNASTY-CONFERENCE OF DRUMCAT-BATTLE OF MOYRA, AND ITS EPIC-SCOTTISH CLAIMS ON IRELAND THE CHRONICLES AND THEIR IMPORT-KING KENNETH AND THE UNION OF THE PICTS AND SCOTS-ITS MYSTERIES-CONDITION OF THE SCOTS CELTS-THEIR HIGH PLACE IN CIVILISATION.
AFTER the departure of the Romans, the first germs of events that can be called national history appear in the sixth century. The partition of the country, such as we have seen it, had not greatly varied. On the east side, the Saxon invaders pressed hard on the Britons between the walls; and when the terrible Ida at that time built himself a fortress at Bamburgh, within twenty miles of the Tweed, he seems to have ruled the country northwards to the Tay. The Britons continued to maintain an independent territory in the west, from the Solway to the Clyde; and northward the country was divided between the Picts on the east and north, and the Irish Scots on the west.
These last were in the ascendant; and as it is through them that the thread of history is connected, it will be convenient to deal briefly, in the first place, with the other two states.
The last retreat of the Romanised Britons was called originally Strathclyde, but in later times more frequently Cumbria. Since we must reject the legends of Arthur and Merlin as romances, there is very
little fit to be called history that can be put in their place. We see nothing but a feeble race dwindling away before the pressure of their aggrandising neighbours. There was not sufficient vital strength in them to hold and work the civilisation which Rome had bequeathed to them. Their history is altogether a sad one. Through the imperfect and confused story of the occupation by the Romans, we can easily see that these encountered a high-spirited and warlike people, whose subjugation was difficult and dangerous work. Whether it was that they were a people not adapted for civilisation, or that the Roman kind of civilisation did not suit the race, and withered instead of nourishing its vitality, it is certain that the Britons came from the hands of their civilisers a damaged race. In the scanty notices of the chroniclers the district is generally called a kingdom, but this may have been more from the habit of using that term towards the neighbouring nations, than because there was any fixed form of monarchical government in Strathclyde. Strathclyde has less renown from its political history than as the theatre of the triumphs of St Kentigern. Through him the two kings, who were his contemporaries Machen his persecutor, and Rederech his patron-come out of the utter darkness of political into the doubtful light of ecclesiastical history
We have the names of some other rulers of Strathclyde, but little more than the names, unless we should accept the narratives of Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Welsh traditions. The Irish chronicles tell us here and there, with their usual brevity, of attacks on the Britons by their neighbours, the Picts, the Saxons, or the Scots. Sometimes the routine is varied by a raid from “ the black strangers,” as the Vikings were called, who pounced on any place where they could get abundant booty, with entire indifference to the nation or language of the sufferers. Among the most emphatic of these casual records, it is told how, in 756, a Saxon and Pictish army, under Egbert and Unst, pressed so hard on Alcluyd or Dumbarton, that the place was surrendered to them. Four years afterwards we are told of the burning of the fortress, which was probably, after the fashion of the day, a large collection of wooden houses, protected by the height of the rock on which it stood, and, where necessary, by embankments.
There is a story, scarcely supported by sufficient evidence, how, in the year 878, a body of the harassed natives of Strathclyde fought their way through their enemies, and though their leader, Constantine, was killed at Lochmaben, succeeded, in considerable numbers, in reaching the shelter of their fellow-countrymen in Wales, where they continued to exist as a distinct and distinguished colony."
1 In the more authentic Welsh chronicle, the Brut y Tywysogion, or Chronicle of the Princes, the entries about Strathclyde are few and brief. It would be difficult to find any reference to the country in the Annales Cambriæ.
• See during the eighth century the Annals of Ulster, the Welsh Chronicle of the Brut, the Extracts collected by Ritson, ii. 175. In the Brut the narratives are naturally turned so as to enlighten the downward progress with slight gleams of success, thus : “Seven hundred and fifty was the year of Christ when the battle between the Britons and Picts took place to wit, the action of Maesydog; and the British killed Talargan, the king of the Picts.”
A glimpse has been obtained of incidents which look like matrimonial alliances between the royal families of Scottish Dalriada and Strathclyde, leading to peaceful adjustments of the government of the two countries. A certain Eoch, indeed, son of a king of Strathclyde by his wife, a daughter of the king of Scots, makes his appearance as a joint ruler of the Scots along with Grig, who figures in the fabulous historians as Gregory the Great. But the whole affair is so fugitive and confused as to afford nothing but perplexity to those who have tried to unravel it.?
There remained so much life in the province for more than a century later, that we hear of its king, Domnal or Donald, dying in the year 975 on a pilgrimage to Rome ; and in 1018, at the battle between the Scots and Saxons at Car, near Wark, in Northumberland, the king of the Strathclyde Welsh is the ally or tributary of the king of Scots. A few years later, in the reign of Malcolm II., the separate kingdom became absorbed into Scotland generally.
Of the much larger territory inhabited by the Picts we have hardly more materials for the early history than we have found for Strathclyde. We have enough only to let us see a strong people, holding their own, and often formidable to their neighbours. The oldest
1 See Chalmers, i. 355 ; Robertson's Early Kings, i. 54.
See Chalmers, i. 354, 382 ; Robertson's Early Kings, i. 34. 3 Ritson, ii. 185.