Duncan I

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Duncan I (d. 1040), king of Strathclyde (possibly before 1034) and king of Scotland (1034–40). On the death of Malcolm II as an old man, the male line of the royal dynasty was extinguished. The vacuum was filled by Duncan, son of Crínán, abbot of Dunkeld (d. 1045), and Bethóc, daughter of Malcolm II. Duncan was possibly already king of Strathclyde, and may have been appointed by Malcolm II. Far from being Shakespeare's old man, he is likely to have been in his twenties when he died ‘at an immature age’ according to a contemporary account. He is recorded campaigning both north and south beyond the borders of his kingdom. His prime concern, however, was apparently Northumbria, where he found his wife and where he mounted a disastrous campaign in 1039. This must have weakened him, and gave Macbeth an opportunity to challenge for the throne. It was Duncan, however, who went on the offensive and led an army into Moray. Battle was joined (probably) at Pitgaveny (2 miles north of Elgin), and Duncan fatally wounded. A debatable source claims he was buried on Iona.

Dauvit Broun