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Dalriada, kingdom of

Dalriada, kingdom of. Dalriada, or Dal Riata, started as an Irish kingdom on the coast of Antrim, but migrated to the west coast of Scotland in the 5th cent., settling Kintyre and Argyll. This brought it into contact with the kingdom of the Picts to the north-east and Strathclyde to the south-east. There were three kindreds of Dalriada, based on Islay, Lorn, and Kintyre, the last, the Cenél nGabráin, being predominant at first. Ædan of Dalriada, consecrated by St Columba in the later 6th cent., clearly had wide ambitions, raiding in Orkney and Man, and waging war against Picts and Northumbrians. An attack on the Northumbrians c.603 ended in severe defeat for Ædan at Degsastan, joyously reported by Bede. This, and a further defeat for Ædan's grandson at Strathcarron at the hands of the Strathclyde Britons (c.642), weakened the kingdom and led to internal dissensions. Pictish influence increased and the Dalriadan fortress at Dunadd was taken by them c.736. Norse pressure to the west in the early 9th cent. might have squeezed Dalriada, but the reverse seems to have happened. The line of advance was apparently perceived as eastwards and in 843 Kenneth MacAlpin, king of Dalriada, took over Pictland and moved the centre of his combined kingdom to Dunkeld in Perthshire. Dalriada henceforth merged into the kingdom of Alba, the nucleus for the later kingdom of Scotland, which took its name from the Latin designation of the Dalriadans, Scotti.

J. A. Cannon

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