Moray, kingdom of

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

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