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Fortriu was the Gaelic name of a Pictish region. The people of Fortriu first appear in a Latin guise as the Verturiones, a Pictish tribe first mentioned in the 4th cent. along with the more famous Caledonii. Fortriu, its people, and its kings are frequently mentioned in contemporary sources from the 7th cent. until 904, when they are last heard of led by Constantine II winning a battle in Strathearn (Perthshire) against the Danes. Its kings regularly appear in other sources as kings of the Picts, including Bridei son of Bile (d. 693), the victor of the battle of Nechtansmere (or Dunnichen, 11 miles north of Dundee) in 685 which liberated the Picts from Northumbrian overlordship. It would appear that ‘king of Fortriu’ was an alternative title for ‘king of the Picts’. Fortriu was probably the core area of Pictish kingship and claimed overlordship over all Picts. There is some doubt about its extent. A late source identifies it with the Strathearn and Menteith; but it may have stretched from Menteith to Angus. The last kings of Fortriu mentioned belonged to a Gaelic dynasty which in the 830s, for the first time, retained the kingship without a break for more than a generation. They were, however, wiped out in battle against Scandinavian raiders in 839; and in the turmoil of the following decades Fortriu itself disappeared to be replaced c.900 by Alba, ‘Scotland’.

Dauvit Broun

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