Skip to main content

Moray, kingdom of

Moray, kingdom of. Morayshire, the county centred on Elgin from the 12th cent. to 1975, was only a small part of the kingdom of Moray, which originally extended from the west coast facing the Isle of Skye across to the river Spey in the east, and from probably the river Oykell in the north to the central highlands in the south. The kingdom was created by the Gaels of northern Argyll, who advanced up the Great Glen and, with the Norse from Orkney, overcame the Picts in northern Scotland in the 9th cent. Throughout their history the kings of Moray were faced by powerful enemies to the north and south. In the north they struggled to resist the Norse earls of Orkney, eager to control the rich woodlands of northern Scotland as a supply of timber for their ships. In the south they strenuously resisted the ambitions of Scottish kings, who sought to make Moray part of their realm. The most famous king was Macbeth, who successfully turned the tables on the Scottish kings in the south and became king of Scots after killing Duncan I in 1040. Even though Duncan's son Malcolm (III) killed Macbeth in 1057, it was Lulach of the Moray dynasty who became king of Scots. Malcolm slew Lulach the following year, but seemingly had to recognize Lulach's son Mael Snechta, king of Moray, as heir to the Scottish throne. Only when Malcolm defeated Mael Snechta in 1078 can it be said that Moray's chances of dominating the Scottish kingdom were brought to a halt. Moray's hopes of regaining power were not extinguished, however. In 1130 Angus, Lulach's grandson, led an army south, only to be defeated decisively at Stracathro (25 miles north-east of Dundee). Despite conquest, colonization, and expulsion, the leading families of Moray continued to resist the kings of Scots until 1230. The days were over, however, when Scotland was a patchwork of regional kings. The king of Scots, the greatest regional power in northern Britain, brought all of the mainland north of the Tweed and Solway within his realm, and Moray was dominated by a Fleming family, introduced by David I (1124–53) to pacify the area, who took Moray as their name.

Dauvit Broun

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Moray, kingdom of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . 20 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Moray, kingdom of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . (January 20, 2019).

"Moray, kingdom of." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved January 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.