Causantín mac Cináeda

Causantín or Constantín mac Cináeda (in Modern Gaelic: Còiseam mac Choinnich; died 877) was a king of the Picts. He is often known as Constantine I in reference to his place in modern lists of kings of Scots, but contemporary sources described Causantín only as a Pictish king. A son of Cináed mac Ailpín ("Kenneth MacAlpin"), he succeeded his uncle Domnall mac Ailpín as Pictish king following the latter's death on 13 April 862. It is likely that Causantín's (Constantine I) reign witnessed increased activity by Vikings, based in Ireland, Northumbria and northern Britain. He died fighting one such invasion.

Causantín mac Cináeda
PredecessorDonald I
IssueDonald II, King of the Picts/of Alba
FatherKenneth I, King of the Picts


Very few records of ninth century events in northern Britain survive. The main local source from the period is the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, a list of kings from Cináed mac Ailpín (died 858) to Cináed mac Maíl Coluim (died 995). The list survives in the Poppleton Manuscript, a thirteenth-century compilation. Originally simply a list of kings with reign lengths, the other details contained in the Poppleton Manuscript version were added from the tenth century onwards.[1] In addition to this, later king lists survive.[2] The earliest genealogical records of the descendants of Cináed mac Ailpín may date from the end of the tenth century, but their value lies more in their context, and the information they provide about the interests of those for whom they were compiled, than in the unreliable claims they contain.[3] The Pictish king-lists originally ended with this Causantín, who was reckoned the seventieth and last king of the Picts.[4]

For narrative history the principal sources are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Irish annals. While Scandinavian sagas describe events in 9th century Britain, their value as sources of historical narrative, rather than documents of social history, is disputed.[5] If the sources for north-eastern Britain, the lands of the kingdom of Northumbria and the former Pictland, are limited and late, those for the areas on the Irish Sea and Atlantic coasts—the modern regions of north-west England and all of northern and western Scotland—are non-existent, and archaeology and toponymy are of primary importance.[6]

Languages and names

Writing a century before Causantín was born, Bede recorded five languages in Britain. Latin, the common language of the church; Old English, the language of the Angles and Saxons; Irish, spoken on the western coasts of Britain and in Ireland; Brythonic, ancestor of the Welsh language, spoken in large parts of western Britain; and Pictish, spoken in northern Britain. By the ninth century a sixth language, Old Norse, had arrived with the Vikings.

Amlaíb and Ímar

Viking activity in northern Britain appears to have reached a peak during Causantín's reign. Viking armies were led by a small group of men who may have been kinsmen. Among those noted by the Irish annals, the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are Ívarr—Ímar in Irish sources—who was active from East Anglia to Ireland, Halfdán—Albdann in Irish, Healfdene in Old English— and Amlaíb or Óláfr. As well as these leaders, various others related to them appear in the surviving record.[7]

Viking activity in Britain increased in 865 when the Great Heathen Army, probably a part of the forces which had been active in Francia, landed in East Anglia.[8] The following year, having obtained tribute from the East Anglian King Edmund, the Great Army moved north, seizing York, chief city of the Northumbrians.[9] The Great Army defeated an attack on York by the two rivals for the Northumbrian throne, Osberht and Ælla, who had put aside their differences in the face of a common enemy. Both would-be kings were killed in the failed assault, probably on 21 March 867. Following this, the leaders of the Great Army are said to have installed one Ecgberht as king of the Northumbrians.[10] Their next target was Mercia where King Burgred, aided by his brother-in-law King Æthelred of Wessex, drove them off.[11]

While the kingdoms of East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria were under attack, other Viking armies were active in the far north. Amlaíb and Auisle (Ásl or Auðgísl), said to be his brother, brought an army to Fortriu and obtained tribute and hostages in 866. Historians disagree as to whether the army returned to Ireland in 866, 867 or even in 869.[12] Late sources of uncertain reliability state that Auisle was killed by Amlaíb in 867 in a dispute over Amlaíb's wife, the daughter of Cináed. It is unclear whether, if accurate, this woman should be identified as a daughter of Cináed mac Ailpín, and thus Causantín's sister, or as a daughter of Cináed mac Conaing, king of Brega.[13] While Amlaíb and Auisle were in north Britain, the Annals of Ulster record that Áed Findliath, High King of Ireland, took advantage of their absence to destroy the longphorts along the northern coasts of Ireland.[14] Áed Findliath was married to Causantín's sister Máel Muire. She later married Áed's successor Flann Sinna. Her death is recorded in 913.[15]

In 870, Amlaíb and Ívarr attacked Dumbarton Rock, where the River Leven meets the River Clyde, the chief place of the kingdom of Alt Clut, south-western neighbour of Pictland. The siege lasted four months before the fortress fell to the Vikings who returned to Ireland with many prisoners, "Angles, Britons and Picts", in 871. Archaeological evidence suggests that Dumbarton Rock was largely abandoned and that Govan replaced it as the chief place of the kingdom of Strathclyde, as Alt Clut was later known.[16] King Artgal of Alt Clut did not long survive these events, being killed "at the instigation" of Causantín son of Cináed two years later. Artgal's son and successor Run was married to a sister of Causantín.[17]

Amlaíb disappears from Irish annals after his return to Ireland in 871. According to the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba he was killed by Causantín either in 871 or 872 when he returned to Pictland to collect further tribute.[18] His ally Ívarr died in 873.[19]

Last days of the Pictish kingdom

In 875, the Chronicle and the Annals of Ulster again report a Viking army in Pictland. A battle, fought near Dollar, was a heavy defeat for the Picts; the Annals of Ulster say that "a great slaughter of the Picts resulted". In 877, shortly after building a new church for the Culdees at St Andrews, Causantín was captured and executed (or perhaps killed in battle) after defending against Viking raiders.[20] Although there is agreement on the time and general manner of his death, it is not clear where this happened. Some believe he was beheaded on a Fife beach, following a battle at Fife Ness, near Crail. William Forbes Skene reads the Chronicle as placing Causantín's death at Inverdovat (by Newport-on-Tay), which appears to match the Prophecy of Berchán. The account in the Chronicle of Melrose names the place as the "Black Cave," and John of Fordun calls it the "Black Den". Causantín was buried on Iona.


Causantín's son Domnall and his descendants represented the main line of the kings of Alba and later Scotland.


  1. ^ Woolf, Pictland to Alba, pp. 87–93; Dumville, "Chronicle of the Kings of Alba".
  2. ^ Anderson, Kings and Kingship, reproduces these lists and discusses their origins, further discussed by Broun, Irish origins.
  3. ^ Broun, Irish Identity, pp. 133–164; Woolf, Pictland to Alba, pp. 220–221.
  4. ^ Broun, Irish Identity, p. 168–169; Anderson, Kings and Kingship, p. 78
  5. ^ Woolf, Pictland to Alba, pp. 277–285; Ó Corrain, "Vikings in Scotland and Ireland"...
  6. ^ Woolf, Pictland to Alba, p. 12.
  7. ^ Downham, Smyth, Woolf.
  8. ^ Check Nelson.
  9. ^ Downham, Keynes, Woolf.
  10. ^ Downham, Higham, Keynes, O Corrain, Smyth, Woolf.
  11. ^ Keynes ...
  12. ^ Downham, O Corrain, Smyth, Woolf, AU 866.1.
  13. ^ Downham, ??, FAA.
  14. ^ Byrne? O Corrain? AU 866.4
  15. ^ Woolf, AU 913.1, Byrne p. 857, poss. same as Amlaíb's wife.
  16. ^ AU 870.6, AU 871.2, Woolf, Downham, Smyth.
  17. ^ AU 872.5, Smyth, Woolf.
  18. ^ Woolf, Downham.
  19. ^ Woolf, Downham, AU 873.3
  20. ^ Raymond Lamont-Brown, St Andrews: City by the Northern Sea (Edinburgh: Berlinn, 2006), 9.


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Causantín mac Cináeda
 Died: 877
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Donald I
King of the Picts
Succeeded by
9th century in Ireland

Events from the 9th century in Ireland.

Arthgal ap Dyfnwal

Arthgal ap Dyfnwal (died 872) was a ninth-century King of Alt Clut. He descended from a long line of rulers of the British Kingdom of Alt Clut. Either he or his father, Dyfnwal ap Rhydderch, King of Alt Clut, may have reigned when the Britons are recorded to have burned Pictish ecclesiastical site of Dunblane in 849.

In 870, the seat of Arthgal's realm—the island fortress of Alt Clut—was besieged by the Viking kings Amlaíb and Ímar. After four months, the fortress fell to the Vikings, who are recorded to have transported a vast prey of British, Pictish, and English captives back to Ireland. The fall of Alt Clut marked a watershed in the history of Arthgal's realm. Afterwards, the capital of the kingdom appears to have relocated up the River Clyde to the vicinity of Govan and Partick, and became known as the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

Two years after the fall of Alt Clut, Arthgal is recorded to have been assassinated at the behest of Causantín mac Cináeda, King of the Picts. The circumstances surrounding Arthgal's death or uncertain. Whilst it is possible he was captured by the Vikings in 870 and slain whilst still in captivity, it is also possible that he was reigning as king when he died. The fact that Arthgal's succeeding son, Rhun, was Causantín's brother-in-law could be evidence that Arthgal was killed to make way for Rhun. Another possibility is that, following the destruction of Alt Clut, Arthgal ruled as a puppet king under Vikings. If so, this could also account for Causantín's actions. On the other hand, Causantín may have merely acted out of sheer opportunism, and Rhun may have succeeded to the throne without his assistance. In any event, either Arthgal or Rhun could have been the first kings to rule as King of Strathclyde.

Causantín mac Fergusa

Causantín or Constantín mac Fergusa (English: "Constantine son of Fergus") (before 775–820) was king of the Picts (or of Fortriu), in modern Scotland, from 789 until 820. He was until the Victorian era sometimes counted as Constantine I of Scotland; the title is now generally given to Causantín mac Cináeda. He is credited with having founded the church at Dunkeld which later received relics of St Columba from Iona.

Constantine III of Scotland

Constantine, son of Cuilén (Mediaeval Gaelic: Causantín mac Cuiléin; Modern Gaelic: Còiseam mac Chailein), known in most modern regnal lists as Constantine III, (born c. 970–997) was king of Scots from 995 to 997. He was the son of King Cuilén. John of Fordun calls him, in Latin, Constantinus Calvus, which translates to Constantine the Bald. Benjamin Hudson notes that insular authors from Ireland and Scotland typically identified rulers by sobriquets. Noting for example the similarly named Eugenius Calvus (Owen the Bald), an 11th-century King of Strathclyde.

Donald II of Scotland

Domnall mac Causantín (Modern Gaelic: Dòmhnall mac Chòiseim), anglicised as Donald II (died 900) was King of the Picts or King of Alba in the late 9th century. He was the son of Constantine I (Causantín mac Cináeda). Donald is given the epithet Dásachtach, "the Madman", by The Prophecy of Berchán.

Gofraid of Lochlann

Gofraid, King of Lochlann was a key figure in the emergence of Norse influence in Scotland and the likely progenitor of the early Kings of the Isles and of the Uí Ímair that dominated the Irish Sea and environs in the Early Middle Ages. Very little is known of him, including his origins and the nature of his kingdom, although his descendants are well attested in the Irish annals. Speculative connections between these historical figures and characters from the Norse sagas have also been made.

House of Alpin

The House of Alpin, also known as the Alpínid dynasty, Clann Chináeda, and Clann Chinaeda meic Ailpín, was the kin-group which ruled in Pictland and then the kingdom of Alba from the advent of Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín) in the 840s until the death of Malcolm II (Máel Coluim mac Cináeda) in 1034.

Kings traced their descent from Kenneth MacAlpin (and not from his father, Alpín mac Echdach), and Irish genealogies in the Book of Ballymote and the Book of Lecan refer to the kindred as Clann Cináeda meic Ailpín by prioritising descent from Kenneth.The origins of the family are uncertain. Later genealogies of doubtful reliability make Kenneth a descendant of Áed Find. While plausible, such claims are unprovable and appear only in the late tenth century. The associated idea that Kenneth had been a king in Dál Riata before he contended successfully for power in Pictland in the 840s, following the death of Eóganán mac Óengusa, is supported by nearly contemporary evidence.Early kings of Clann Cináeda meic Ailpín are described as kings of the Picts, and the third king, Kenneth's son Constantine I (Causantín mac Cináeda), appears to have been regarded as the last of the 70 Pictish kings soon after his death. The descendants of Kenneth were ousted in 878, when Constantine I's brother, Áed mac Cináeda, was killed by Giric mac Dúngail, but they returned in 889, when Constantine I's son Donald II (Domnall mac Causantín) ascended the throne upon the death or deposition of Giric. Donald II and his successors are described as kings of Alba.During the tenth century, succession alternated between the descendants of Constantine I and those of Áed. Internecine strife in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries left the descendants of Constantine I unchallenged by male-line descendants of Kenneth MacAlpin, but Malcolm II left no male heirs. On Malcolm's death, the line of kings descended from Kenneth came to an end. Future kings, while still tracing their descent from Kenneth, were descended from Malcolm's daughter Bethóc and her husband Crinan of Dunkeld.

Kenneth III of Scotland

Cináed mac Duib (Modern Gaelic: Coinneach mac Dhuibh) anglicised as Kenneth III, and nicknamed An Donn, "the Chief" or "the Brown", (c. 966 – c. 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. An alternate explanation is that Kenneth had a son, Giric, who ruled jointly with his father

Kingdom of Strathclyde

Strathclyde (lit. "Strath of the River Clyde"), originally Cumbric: Ystrad Clud or Alclud (and Strath-Clota in Anglo-Saxon), was one of the early medieval kingdoms of the Britons in what the Welsh call Hen Ogledd ("the Old North"), the Brythonic-speaking parts of what is now southern Scotland and northern England. The kingdom developed during the post-Roman period. It is also known as Alt Clut, a Brittonic term for Dumbarton Castle, the medieval capital of the region. It may have had its origins with the Brythonic Damnonii people of Ptolemy's Geography.

The language of Strathclyde, and that of the Britons in surrounding areas under non-native rulership, is known as Cumbric, a dialect or language closely related to Old Welsh, and in modern terms to Welsh, Cornish and Breton. Scottish toponymy and archaeology points to some later settlement by Vikings or Norse–Gaels (see Scandinavian Scotland), although to a lesser degree than in neighbouring Galloway. A small number of Anglian place-names show some limited settlement by Anglo-Saxon incomers from Northumbria prior to the Norse settlement. Owing to the series of language changes in the area, it is not possible to say whether any Goidelic settlement took place before Gaelic was introduced in the High Middle Ages during the 11th century.

After the sack of Dumbarton Rock by a Viking army from Dublin in 870, the name Strathclyde comes into use, perhaps reflecting a move of the centre of the kingdom to Govan. In the same period, it was also referred to as Cumbria, and its inhabitants as Cumbrians. During the High Middle Ages, the area was conquered by the Goidelic-speaking Kingdom of Alba in the 11th century, becoming part of the new Kingdom of Scotland. However, it remained a distinctive Brythonic area into the 12th and 13th centuries.

List of Scottish monarchs

The monarch of Scotland was the head of state of the Kingdom of Scotland. According to tradition, the first King of Scots (Middle Scots: King of Scottis, Modern Scots: King o Scots, Scottish Gaelic: Rìghrean Albannaich) was Kenneth I MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín), who founded the state in 843. The distinction between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of the Picts is rather the product of later medieval myth and confusion from a change in nomenclature i.e. Rex Pictorum (King of the Picts) becomes Rí Alban (King of Alba) under Donald II when annals switched from Latin to vernacular around the end of the 9th century, by which time the word Alba in Gaelic had come to refer to the Kingdom of the Picts rather than Great Britain (its older meaning).The Kingdom of the Picts just became known as Kingdom of Alba in Gaelic, which later became known in Scots and English as Scotland; the terms are retained in both languages to this day. By the late 11th century at the very latest, Scottish kings were using the term rex Scottorum, or King of Scots, to refer to themselves in Latin. The Kingdom of Scotland was merged with the Kingdom of England to form a single Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. Thus Queen Anne became the last monarch of the ancient kingdoms of Scotland and England and the first of Great Britain, although the kingdoms had shared a monarch since 1603 (see Union of the Crowns). Her uncle Charles II was the last monarch to be crowned in Scotland, at Scone in 1651. He had a second coronation in England ten years later.

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.

List of state leaders in the 9th century

State leaders in the 8th century – State leaders in the 10th century – State leaders by yearThis is a list of state leaders in the 9th century (801–900) AD.

Olaf the White

Olaf the White (Old Norse: Óláfr hinn Hvíti) was a viking sea-king who lived in the latter half of the 9th century.

Olaf was born around 820, in Ireland. His father was the Hiberno-Norse warlord Ingjald Helgasson. Some traditional sources portray Olaf as a descendant of Ragnar Lodbrok – for instance, the Eyrbyggja Saga, claims that Olaf's paternal grandmother (Thora) was a daughter of Ragnar's son Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. However, this connection seems unlikely, given that Sigurd appears to have lived in the mid-9th Century and Ragnar himself may have lived until the 860s. Irish fragments provide a different genealogy, suggesting that Olaf's father was Godfred, son of Ragnall, son of Godfred, son of Godfred.He was named King of Dublin around 853. According to Irish sources, Olaf ruled jointly with his kinsman Ímar. Olaf married Aud the Deep-minded (Auðr), daughter of Ketil Flatnose, the ruler of the Hebrides, according to Icelandic traditions (Landnámabók, Laxdæla saga). The Irish sources name Olaf's wife only as the daughter of a "King Aedh".Olaf and Auðr had a son, Thorstein the Red (Þorsteinn rauðr), who attempted to conquer Scotland in the 870s. At some point Olaf had a falling-out with the clan of Ketil and sent Auðr and their son back to her father's house. According to Landnámabók, Olaf and Þorsteinn rauðr were both killed in the British Isles.

Thorstein the Red was married to Þuriðr Eyvindardóttir austmann, and they had several children: Gróa, Álof, Þorgerðr, Þórhildr, Vigdís, Ósk, Ólafr feilan, ancestor of Ari Fróði, author of Landnámabók. The family was related to the Vinland explorers and the Sturlung family.Olaf may be identical with the Viking warlord Amlaíb Conung, who according to Irish sources was killed in 871/2 by Causantín mac Cináeda, king of Alba. However, both Gwyn Jones and Peter Hunter Blair dispute this identification.

Old Norse sources mention two Olafs belonging to the ninth-century house of Vestfold. The first of these, Olaf the White, because of his connections with Dublin and with Ketil Flatnose, must be identified with Olaf king of Dublin, as described in early Irish and Scottish chronicles. We are also told in Heimskringla of Olaf Guthfrithsson of Vestfold who ..harried in the Western Sea… and on good archaeological evidence can be identified with the king buried in the Gokstad ship. It is possible that there was only one such king, Olaf Guthfrisson of Vestfold, who in his earlier days ruled from Dublin and raided in Scotland and who later in 871 returned to claim his Vestfold kingdom. The Irish Three Fragments of Annals, while not actually proving such a theory, do support the case for regarding Olaf Guthfrithsson of Vestfold as being the same as Olaf the White of Dublin and the Scottish Isles. The Fragments claim that Olaf of Dublin ended his reign there when c. 871 he returned to Norway to support his father Guthfrithin a struggle for a kingdom. This passage, then, would identify Olaf of Dublin, alias Olaf the White of Landnamabok with Olaf Guthfrithsson of Norway.

Rhun ab Arthgal

Rhun ab Arthgal was a ninth-century King of Strathclyde. He is the only known son of Arthgal ap Dyfnwal, King of Alt Clut. In 870, during the latter's reign, the fortress of Alt Clut was captured by Vikings, after which the Arthgal and his family may have been amongst the mass of prisoners taken back to Ireland. Two years later Arthgal is recorded to have been slain at the behest of Causantín mac Cináeda, King of the Picts. The circumstances surrounding this regicide are unknown. The fact that Rhun seems to have been Causantín's brother-in-law could account for Causantín's interference in the kingship of Alt Clut.

The Viking's destruction of the capital fortress of the Kingdom of Alt Clut appears to have brought about a reorientation of the kingdom towards the valley of the River Clyde. In consequence, the realm came to be known as the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Either Rhun or his father could have been the first kings of Strathclyde. In the years following the fall of Alt Clut, Rhun's realm may have endured periods of Pictish and Viking overlordship. Despite his kinship with the Pictish king, there is reason to suspect that the two clashed at some point.

It is unknown when Rhun's reign came to an end or when he died. One possibility is that he fell with Causantín, who seems to have been killed warring against the Vikings in 876. Certainly, Rhun's son, Eochaid, is recorded to have succeeded Causantín's successor, Áed mac Cináeda, King of the Picts, after 878. Whether Eochaid's succession reflects the end of Eochaid's reign and life is unknown.

St Andrews

St Andrews (Latin: S. Andrea(s); Scots: Saunt Aundraes; Scottish Gaelic: Cill Rìmhinn) is a town on the east coast of Fife in Scotland, 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Dundee and 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Edinburgh. St Andrews has a recorded population of 16,800 in 2011, making it Fife's fourth largest settlement and 45th most populous settlement in Scotland.

The town is home to the University of St Andrews, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world and the oldest in Scotland. According to some rankings, it is ranked as the third best university in the United Kingdom, behind Oxbridge. The University is an integral part of the burgh and during term time students make up approximately one third of the town's population.The town is named after Saint Andrew the Apostle. There has been an important church in St Andrews since at least the 747 AD when it was mentioned in the Annals of Tigernach, and a bishopric since at least the 11th century. The settlement grew to the west of St Andrews cathedral with the southern side of the Scores to the north and the Kinness burn to the south. The burgh soon became the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, a position which was held until the Scottish Reformation. The famous cathedral, the largest in Scotland, now lies in ruins.

St Andrews is also known worldwide as the "home of golf". This is in part because The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, founded in 1754, which until 2004 exercised legislative authority over the game worldwide (except in the United States and Mexico). It is also because the famous St Andrews Links (acquired by the town in 1894) are the most frequent venue for The Open Championship, the oldest of golf's four major championships. Visitors travel to St Andrews in great numbers for several courses ranked amongst the finest in the world, as well as for the sandy beaches.

The Martyrs Memorial, erected to the honour of Patrick Hamilton, George Wishart, and other martyrs of the Reformation epoch, stands at the west end of the Scores on a cliff overlooking the sea. The civil parish has a population of 18,421 (in 2011).The town also contains numerous museums, a botanic garden and an aquarium.

Monarchs of the Picts
Monarchs of the Scots
EnglishScottish and British monarchs

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