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Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles

Celts of Britain


Damnonii & Attacotti (Britons)

FeatureIt was the Romans who coined the name 'Gaul' to describe the Celtic tribes of what is now France and Belgium, quite possibly based on an original form of the word 'Celt' itself (see feature link). When it came to the Celts of Britain, the name of the islands itself was used: Prydein (Latinised as Prettania or Britannia). Its collective people were Britons, although not all of them were Celts, let alone the same 'type' of Celts. Successive waves of immigration had left a vague mix of Bell Beaker folk, Urnfield proto-Celts, Hallstatt and La Tène waves, and Belgae, the latest arrivals. By the first century BC these latter people dominated the south and east of the isles.

MapThe Strathclyde area of modern Scotland was originally occupied by a tribe known as the Damnonii. Its existence was recorded by the Romans, although the tribe itself was not always named in those records. Despite that, events which relate to native, unconquered Britons of this area of the country can all safely be lumped together under the Damnonii banner. The tribe was bordered to the north by the Venicones and the Epidii, and to the south by the Votadini, Selgovae, and Novantae tribes (see the map of Europe's tribes around the first centuries BC and AD to view these locations in relation to all other Celts).

The Roman conquest of Britain certainly did not originally include the Damnonii territory, although there were periods in which they later fell under Roman administration. The first attempt to achieve this started in AD 82, but it never quite stuck and the Damnonii seem to have remained a source of trouble for the Romans over a long span of time.

They appear to have formed a definitive kingdom in the second century (one of the 'four kingdoms of ancient Scotland'), according to the available information, with a descendant of Caratacus of the Catuvellauni collecting together a force of 'free Britons' in opposition to the 'enslaved' Britons and their masters to the south. The tribe flourished in this new role as the main source of Lowland Scotland's opposition to governance from Londinium (echoes of modern cross-border politics!).

The Damnonii may, perhaps, have been related in some way to the Dumnonii, and also to the Irish tribe(s) of that name ('fir Domnainn', which means 'men (of) Domnonii'). The Roman conquests in the south of Britain could easily have forced small groups of natives to flee to still-independent areas of the British Isles and Ireland. Having done so, they would be only too ready to adopt the label of 'free Britons'. The alternative is that it was easily formed from Brythonic words to produce a coincidentally similar name in at least three parts of the British Isles and Ireland.

FeaturePeople of the Damnonii form one of the candidates for the mysterious Attacotti of the fourth century AD. The Attacotti name can be broken down in two ways. The first supplies the name Alt Clut, the Damnonian capital, while the second has links to the Novantae immediately to the south of Alt Clut, suggesting that the Attacotti certainly came from this area of Lowland Scotland, either from around the rock of the Britons or from territory a short distance to the south (see feature link for more on the Attacotti).

Ancient Britons

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, from Atlas of British History, G S P Freeman-Grenville (Rex Collins, London, 1979), from Roman Britain: A New History, Guy de la Bédoyère, from the Historia Brittonum (The History of the Britons), Nennius (J A Giles, Ed & Trans, 1841, published as part of Six Old English Chronicles (Henry G Bohn, London, 1848)), from History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from Life of Agricola, Tacitus, and from External Links: Jamie Allen's Family Tree & Ancient Genealogical Allegations, and Irish Archaeology.)

AD 82

Continuing a campaign which in the previous two years has secured the territory of the Votadini, Selgovae, and Novantae tribes, the Roman Governor of Britain secures the western coast up to the Clyde to contain the Damnonii tribesmen there and perhaps to prevent Irish landings.

The Rock of the Britons today
Dumbarton, the Rock of the Britons, today is still a formbidable obstacle, although the defences of its British occupiers were finally breached in 870-871

140 - 143

The Romans move north to the Forth-Clyde line, roughly the southern boundary of what will become Pictland, reoccupying British Lowland Scotland, and beginning construction of the more basic Antonine Wall. Initially the Damnonii appear to cooperate with the Romans but the mood changes over the course of the decade.

148 - 184

Corvus / Corbed

Descendant of Caratacus of the Catuvellauni. Killed.


Corvus (whose name means 'raven') apparently announces the creation of the kingdom, raising a following of British patriots. He fights off the Irish of Mide and Connacht (led by Fedlim), and it seems possible that this is part of a serious train of events along the Antonine Wall.

The Roman forts are apparently evacuated and burned, either by the enemy or by retreating Romans - there is some slaughter at Newstead at least. It is quite possible that the Romans are severely mauled before they can put down the revolt, and reinforcements arrive under the new Roman Governor, Gnaeus Julius Verus.

Pictish warrior on the Tulloch stone
The Tulloch stone and a recreation of the engraved figure of a warrior carrying a door-knob butted spear - archaeologists believe that he may represent a war-orientated social organisation which was integral to resisting the Roman empire and to creating the overtly hierarchical Pictish societies of the post-Roman period

180 - 185

A serious attack of the northern peoples takes place upon the death of the Roman emperor in 180, either from north of Hadrian's Wall into the province itself (with the Damnonii being an especial candidate), or from beyond the Antonine Wall to attack and devastate Roman forts in Lowland Scotland. Either way, it seems probable that in 184-185 the Roman Governor, Ulpius Marcellus, campaigns with two legions into Lowland Scotland and beyond the Forth-Clyde line into Caledonia.

It is here, in 184, that Corvus dies fighting the Romans, but his kingdom remains outside direct imperial control, one of the 'four kingdoms of the north'. His line is represented as the senior of the descendants of the old British royal house (presumably that of the Catuvellauni), while the junior line is represented by Coilus from within the province of Britannia. The list of the names of rulers who apparently succeed Corvus is unreliable and not necessarily in the correct order.

Art 'Vroisc'


Fer / Fi

Son. 'Fi' is similar to early Pictish names.

209 - 211

Roman Emperor Severus leads a campaign in person against the Caledonii, making his headquarters (and the centre of the Roman empire for three years) at Eboracum (York), but ill-health means he has to hand control of its day-to-day conduct to Caracalla.

Map of Britain AD 90-200
Apart from very brief periods the Damnonii appeared to remain outside the Roman empire's band of northern tributary or friendly tribal states, preferring instead to oppose the Romans (click or tap on map to view full sized)

Duibne Mawr / Mor 'the Great'


fl c.250

Beinnie the Briton

Mentioned by Irish - led army against them at Muchramha.

Art 'Og' 'the Young'

Son of Duibne. A repetition of Art Vroisc?


Possible son but missing from the lists.

Fer map Confer

Son. Another repetition to plug a gap in the succession?

fl c.305


Son. A general of Constantine the Great.


Roman Emperor Constantius Chlorus concludes a treaty with the Damnonii in an effort to halt their attacks on Britain. Subsequent Damnonii leaders have a firmer footing in history, and they even have Latinised names, suggesting a certain acceptance of Romanisation following the acceptance of the treaty. Each individual also has other versions of his name, some of which are later, traditional versions used in royal pedigrees.

Coin issued under Carausius
Shown here are two sides of a coin which was issued during the late third century AD reign as emperor of Britannia of Carausius, forced to rebel in the face of charges of colluding with pirates

fl c.330

Clemens / Cluian / Cluim / Ceodar

Son. Roman confederate. Chief of the Damnonii?

fl c.360

Quintillius / Cinhil

Son? Roman confederate. Chief of the Damnonii?

fl 364?

Cynloyp / Cynloup

Son. Alt Clut & possible Attacotti leader during attack of 364.


According to Ammianus Marcellinus, the Picts, Scotti, Saxons, and Attacotti attack Roman Britain in what seems to be a serious incursion. The Attacotti could be the Britons of Alt Clut.

There is a gap is between Quintillius and his grandson, Coroticus. Note that the former bears a Roman name, except in traditional pedigrees, and the latter a British name. The latter name is in fact the name of a great, legendary (by this time) leader of a revolt against the Romans, that of Caratacus of the Catuvellauni. It is the same name, despite spelling differences (there is no regularised spelling or pronunciation at this time).

It is likely that Coroticus is named by his father after a great warrior who had fought the Romans, so is it beyond the bounds of reason that the father, Quintillius' son, is the Attacotti leader who participates in the barbarian conspiracy of 364? If not, and he instead emerges a little later, perhaps in the 380s, then could he name his son in memory of the glorious revolt led perhaps by his own father (who could still be absent from this list)?

Male Romano-British dress
Costume illustration of a Romanised British man (left) and a Romanised British aristocrat, with each wearing leather Gladiator sandals, one pair with a thong fitting and the aristocrat with sandals with many straps (from Hope's Costume of the Ancients).

As for that 'missing' father, an alternative suggestion for his otherwise unknown name is Cynloup. This comes in a variety of forms, such as Cynlop, Cynloyp, and Cynllwyb, and it is also claimed that he is son of one Cinhil of Colchester.

The name is 'cyn' (from the Brythonic 'cuno', meaning 'dog') and an unknown suffix in the form of 'loup'. In Welsh this could be 'llwybr', meaning 'a path', but that makes no sense, while 'llwybro' is the verb form, 'to walk'. This does not sound like a name. Instead, 'lop' or 'loup' are preferable here, although they require a moderate long shot in linking them.

Contemporary Latin is pronounced and used differently in Gaul when compared to Italy. The same would be true for Britannia, where Latin words lose their suffixes from nouns. Classical Latin has the word 'lupus', meaning 'wolf', which comes down to French as 'loup' and Walloon as 'leu'. Lose the '-us' suffix and 'lup' remains, which is pretty close to Cynloup. Could the name mean 'wolfdog'? Either way, his presumed son, Coroticus, brings the kingdom of Alt Clut into the post-Roman period.

Alt Clut / Alclud (Romano-Britons)

FeatureWith the expulsion of Roman officials in AD 409 (see feature link), Britain again became independent of Rome and was not re-occupied. The fragmentation which had begun to emerge towards the end of the fourth century now appears to have accelerated, with minor princes, newly declared kings, and Roman-style magistrates all vying for power and influence while also facing the threat of extinction at the hands of the various barbarian tribes which were encroaching from all sides.

The tribe of the Damnonii (and perhaps the Attacotti) were never fully conquered by Rome. Instead, at some point during the Roman occupation of Britain they seem to have created an independent kingdom of their own in the region of today's Scotland which is now known as Strathclyde. This kingdom quickly became known by the Brythonic name of its capital at Dumbarton: Alt Clut or Alclud ('Rock of the Clyde'), or Alcluith (an older version of the name).

Centred on the Clyde headwaters and its capital of Dumbarton, the kingdom's borders can only be vaguely estimated. They seem to have stretched a little north of the Antonine line, then over to the ridge of the Campsie Fells (roughly between Lennoxtown and Balfron, and taking in the later county of Dumbarton), up towards Loch Lomond where two huge ice age stone deposits bear names which possibly mark out a British border (see AD 711, below), and westwards to the head of Loch Long. Its southern border seems usually to have abutted that of Galwyddel (Galloway), while to the north it was bordered by Pictland, to the north-east and east by the Guotodin, and to the south-east by Caer Guendoleu.

FeatureEssentially re-established in AD 382 by Magnus Maximus (see feature link), it may in fact have been much older. The original first century Roman conquest of southern Scotland did not include Alt Clut's British Damnonii territory, although there were periods during which it later fell under Roman administration. For the most part, however, it seems to have remained independent.

Certainly it was one of the few British kingdoms never to be conquered by the English or Normans, instead eventually being taken over by the Scottish crown. Its southern region of Cumbria was gained after the fall of North Rheged and a period of possession by Bernicia, and simply bore the name of its 'people of the same land', the Cymri, which is the same source as the name for Cymru (Wales).

Many of Alt Clut's kings are obscure or are only poorly attested. Only two stand out - Coroticus and Rhiderch Hael. Many of the others are often only known by the Welsh or Irish versions of their names. Little of the Cumbric dialect of Brythonic which was used by the Britons between the walls was written down by them. Mostly their actions were recorded either due to Irish attacks on the coast or by Welsh storytellers who were remembering events from several generations away in time. Where both Alt Clut's British and later Welsh forms are known, the latter is always shown last.

Roman Canterbury

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Landscape of King Arthur, Geoffrey Ashe, from History of the King's of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the Annales Cambriae, James Ingram (taken from the Harleian manuscript, the earliest surviving version, London, Everyman Press, 1912), from The Four Ancient Books of Wales, Volume 1, W F Skene, from The Heroic Age: Rhydderch Hael, Tim Clarkson (Winter 1999), from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Anne Savage (translator and collator, Guild Publishing, 1983), from A History of the English Church and People, The Venerable Bede (Leo Sherley-Price translation - revised by R E Latham), and from External Links: Senchus, Notes on Early Medieval Scotland, and Harleian Genealogy 5: Strathclyde, Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews.)

c.410 - c.450

Coroticus / Ceretic Guletic

Son of Cynloyp. First (Christian) king. Also Guotodin?


The name Coroticus (nicknamed 'Land Holder') is probably a more accurate north British version of the later Welsh 'Ceretic'. It means 'beloved of' or 'dear to' ('cara') and the god, Dag ('dagda', or Dag the Good).

Coroticus is almost certainly the British warrior who is addressed in a letter by St Patrick, in which the latter figure bemoans the capture and enslavement of newly-Christianised Picts. Patrick blames Coroticus for this and excommunicates his warband as 'associates of the Scotti and Apostate Picts; desirous of glutting themselves with the blood of innocent Christians'.

Clearly Coroticus himself is a member of the British Church. The apostate Picts are those southern Picts who have been converted to Christianity by St Ninian but who have subsequently reverted to paganism.

St Patrick
This impression of St Patrick in Ireland is one of the less fanciful, and clearly shows the bishop in his later years, towards the end of the fifth century

fl 450 - 475

Domgal / Dumnagual Hen / Dyfnwal Hen

Grandson (or son in a later pedigree).


The Guotodin seem to become fully independent around this time, possibly from the rule of Coroticus (and that of his grandson). An alternative possibility is that from the time of Coel Hen up until this point they have been governed from Ebrauc.

Domgal himself is somewhat problematic. He would seem to be a fairly long-lasting king of the late fifth century, but as the grandson of Coroticus he is also the son of Cinuit. One later royal pedigree names Cinuit as the son of Coroticus, with his own son being Domgal (Dumnagual Hen - the Domgal of 501-508 who is shown below), and one of Domgal's four sons being Garwynwyn (sometimes shown in modern records as Garwynwyn Gerinion).

Could it be the case that the somewhat tenuous reignal list is mistaken and there is only one Domgal (from 501)? If so then who rules between circa 450-475? Or could there be two Domgals who have been compacted into one figure in later records?

Map of Britain AD 450-600
This map of Britain concentrates on British territories and kingdoms which were established during the fourth and fifth centuries AD, as the Saxons and Angles began their settlement of the east coast (click or tap on map to view full sized)

c.475 - c.480


Relationship unknown.

c.480 - c.485

Cinuit (Cedig?)

Son of Coroticus (according to tradition).


Cinuit's son, Tutagual, or Tutgwal Theodovellaunus, establishes himself in Galwyddel, perhaps as a legitimate division of Alt Clut on his father's death, an entirely normal and customary practise in Celtic kingdoms. However, if the order of succession here is correct, then the continual shift between two branches of the royal house may hint at a civil war or successional struggle which has since been forgotten - or an alternating share of power.

c.485 - c.490


Son of Erbin.

c.490 - c.495

Tutagual / Tudwal Tudclud

Son of Cinuit. Also king of Galwyddel (c.485-c.495).

c.495 - 501

Caw (Caurdar?)

Son of Garwynwyn? Deposed.

501 - 508

Domgal / Dumnagual (Hen?)

Son of Cinuit. One of his own sons, Guipno, does not rule.

c.508 - c.540

Clinoch / Clinioc

Son. Popular Christian king.

c.540 - c.558


Brother. Defeated by his nephew, Conall.


Elidyr / Morken Mwynfawr 'Wealthy'

m Eurgain, eldest legitimate daughter of Maelgwyn Venedotia.


Upon the death of Maelgwyn of Venedotia in 549, Elidyr son of Gorwst Briodawr son of Dumnagual Hen considers that because he is married to one of Maelgwyn's legitimate children, and the new king of Gwynedd is illegitimate, he now has a strong claim on the throne of Gwynedd. Elidyr invades and is defeated and killed in battle in Gwynedd.

The mountains of North Wales provided a powerful refuge for the rulers of Gwynedd in times of trouble and a wonderfully scenic backdrop to their victories over potential invaders


To the east, the British kingdom of Bernaccia is seized by the Angles who have been serving as laeti and the ruling king, Morgan Bulc is forced out. He takes refuge with the Guotodin, shifting his power base there, but the loss leaves part of Alt Clut's border exposed to the invaders.

c.559 - c.573

Tutagual / Tudwal

Son of Clinoch.

c.573 - 612

Rhiderch Hael / Rhydderch Hen

Son of Tutagual. Possible High King.


One of the most pointless and destructive disputes of the period arises over the stronghold of Caerlaverock (the 'Fort of the Lark'), which is located on the northern side of the Solway Firth, immediately to the south of Dumfries. This is very likely to be in Caer-Guendoleu's territory, where it abuts Galwyddel.

Although the spot is tranquil today, traces of fortification can still be seen nearer Liddel Water. Not far away is Arfderydd (Arderydd, Armterid, or even Atterith, and today known as Arthuret, near Longtown in Cumbria. The principle leader of the side which opposes Guenddolau is Rhiderch Hael, most probably for territorial reasons.

FeatureKing Guenddolau dies in the battle at Arfderydd while fighting against Alt Clut, Ebrauc, and Dunoting, with Rhiderch being backed up by Guenddolau's own brother and cousin respectively. The early source of information for this event comes from the Annales Cambriae (see feature link), which also records that 'Merlin went mad'.

Map of Britain AD 550-600
At the start of this period, the Angle and Saxon kingdoms on the east and south coasts were firmly established. Many of the rapidly-formed Romano-British territories in those areas had been swept away in the late fifth century (click or tap on map to view full sized)

This would be Myrddin Wyllt, Guenddolau's court bard who ranks with Taliesin in seniority and who seems to be confused with a possible Merlin of the mid-fifth century in the eyes of later tradition (most especially by Geoffrey of Monmouth in The History of the Kings of Britain). This is one of many internecine wars which all serve to weaken the British defences in this century.

579 & 586

Rhiderch Hael receives mentions in these years, notably in Adomnán's Life of Saint Columba which is written on Iona over a century later. Rhiderch's allies in Elmet and Rheged are also mentioned in this period, and in 590 the three kingdoms are in coalition with the dispossessed Morcant Bulc of Bernaccia (see below).


Guallauc of Elmet allies himself to his cousin, Urien Rheged. A confederation of British kings is formed from this alliance, primarily based and operating in the north. The dispossessed Morcant Bulc of Bernaccia and Rhiderch Hael of Alt Clut both join the confederation in operations against Anglian Bernicia, and are present at the siege of Ynys Metcaut (Lindisfarne) in this year.

Map of Elmet
A map showing Elmet's probable borders during its greatest extent, with the grey areas being lost first, and the deep pink area last, in 617 (click or tap on map to view full size)

The Bernicians are almost driven out of Britain but the confederation falls apart when Morcant Bulc has Urien Rheged assassinated, fearing his great power should the Britons win the war against the invaders. His act fatally weakens the British cause in the north.


The Gododdin is a long series of elegies composed from the early seventh century onwards, principally by Aneirin, son of Dunaut of Dunoting. It commemorates a force of Britons who assemble near Din Eidyn of the Guotodin at this time in preparation for facing their powerful foe. It includes not only the still-wealthy and aggressively strong Guotodin themselves, but warriors from all over the country, including 'three chiefs of Novant' - the nearby Novantae in post-Roman form.

After attending 'churches for shriving, true is the tale, death confronted them' - clearly the British Church exists here - this force marches south to fight the Angles at Catreath (generally accepted as being modern Catterick, approximately eighty kilometres north of Ebrauc). It seems strange that they should march past Bamburgh on their way, the capital of the early Bernician kingdom, but perhaps not if they are making an attempt to reclaim the lost capital of the north, Ebrauc.

Britons versus Angles
The attack against the Angles at the end of the sixth century appears to have been a last-ditch attempt by the semi-Romanised Britons to rid the land of these invaders - and it failed, albeit gloriously

The battle seems to take place during an attack against the Roman fort near the strategic road junction now called Scotch Corner, by the south bank of the Swale at Catterick Bridge. Gwawrddur is praised for 'glutting black ravens on the wall of the fort, though he was not Arthur' (a term used to denote great slaughter of the enemy, but even so this warrior is still not a match for Britain's heroic battle leader of the previous century).

Ultimately, the battle is a disaster for the Britons. The flower of the Northern British warrior class is decimated by the superior numbers of the Bernicians. The result is that Guotodin, as well as the other kingdoms of the north, probably including Elmet, are all greatly weakened by the defeat.


Aedan mac Gabrán of Dál Riata invades the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia and attacks King Æthelfrith at the Battle of Degsastan. By fighting and defeating Dál Riata, Æthelfrith secures the alliance of Dál Riata's enemies, the southern Picts. The defeat also means that Alt Clut's northern border becomes much more secure, as Aedan seems to have a reputation in later Welsh tales as being 'the Treacherous'.

St Oswald of Bernicia
Expelled from Bernicia by Edwin of Deira in AD 616, Oswald and his brother, Oswiu, sought refuge on Iona where they converted to Christianity - Oswald brought it back with him when he became king of Bernicia

612 - 621

Neithon / Nechtan / Nwython

Son of Guipno, son of Domgal (501).

616 - 632

As the consequences of the tragic defeat of 597 continue to reverberate, North Rheged now falls to Edwin of Bernicia. A rump enclave survives up against Alt Clut's southern border for a time, while Alt Clut's territory now includes eastern Dumfries which, seemingly, has been gained out of North Rheged's collapse.

621 - 633

Bili / Beli meb Nwython


633 - 645

Eugenius / Ywain / Hoah / Owen meb Beli

Son. Killed Domnal Breac. Controlled Dál Riata in 642.


The events of around 597, as chronicled in the Gododdin, have sounded the death knell for the Guotodin kingdom. Fatally weakened by this, the Annals of Ulster note pithily 'the battle of Glenn Muiresan and the besieging of Eten' - Din Eidyn, which apparently falls to Oswald of Bernicia.


The death of Oswald of Bernicia possibly sparks a contest between the northern powers for control of the Firth of Forth and the Guotodin lands. Eugenius of Alt Clut and Domnal Brec of Dál Riata fight at Strathcarron, to the east of Din Eidyn, with the Irish king being killed and Eugenius briefly claiming his throne.

The isle of Lindisfarne, or Ynys Metcaut to the British, remained the fortress by which the Angles held onto their kingdom in the face of repeated British attacks, but Din Guayroi or Guarie (Bamburgh Castle) shown here may have been another

The Annals of Ulster also mention a battle between Oswald's successor and a band of unnamed Britons - possibly Alt Clut again (or even the remnants of the Guotodin themselves). Clearly, thanks to Northumbria's retention of Dunbar in the seventh century, the Angles hold on to their newly gained territory.

645 - 658

Guret / Gwriad

Son or brother? Not mentioned in the genealogies.

? - 693


Son of Eugenius.



Killed in Man or Ulster. Possibly a relative rather than a king.

? - 694

Domgal / Dumnagual

Brother of Elfin.

694 - 722

Bili / Beli

Son of Elfin.

711 & 717

The Annals of Ulster record two battles between Alt Clut and Dál Riata. The first in 711 is at 'Lorg Ecclet' (location unknown), while the second in 717 is at 'the rock called Minuirc' (also unknown but sometimes identified with Clach nam Breatann, the 'stone of the Britons' - traditional marker of the border between Picts, Scots, and Britons).

Both would appear to be renewed border skirmishes between the two kingdoms, although neither is particularly conclusive. Both kingdoms retain the same king afterwards and no other details are recorded, which should be the case if the outcome is significant (see map for a general disposition of territories).

Map of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms AD 700
The former Britons, their post-Roman civilisation having collapsed to a very large extent, had transformed in just two centuries into the Early Welsh, their language changing considerably to reflect their increasing isolation, even from British kingdoms outside of western Britain (click or tap on map to view full sized)

722 - 750

Teudebur / Tudor / Tewdur

Son. Killed at the battle of Mocetauc.


Angus of Pictland turns his attention on Alt Clut. It may be the case that he defeats the men of Alt Clut in open battle in this year, although his own forces are unsupported by any allies so a potential victory may not be followed up.


The Pictish king, Angus, again attempts to take territory from Alt Clut. His brother, Talorcan, leads a Pictish army at the Battle of Mocetauc. The fighting must be brutal and unforgiving, as both Talorcan and his opponent, King Teudeber of Alt Clut, are both killed. Eadberht of Northumbria is said to take the plain of Kyle (around modern Ayr) in the same year, presumably snatching it from Alt Clut. Does the loss of the plain of Kyle cut off the Britons of Alt Clut from those of Cumbria?

750? - 754


Little-known, apparently. Reign sometimes given to Teudebur.

754 - c.760

Domgal / Dumnagual

Son of Teudebur.


The Picts again attempt to conquer Alt Clut, this time with help from Northumbria. The combined armies nearly succeed in capturing Dumbarton, but a reversal nine days later sees them almost destroyed. However, Alt Clut's importance has clearly diminished.

Stone of the Britons
Clach nam Breatann, 'The Stone of the Britons', probably served to mark the northern limits of Alt Clut's territory (External Link: Creative Commons Licence)

Little is known of it in the next century, and the names of its kings are little more than a genealogical list. Given the capitulation which has brought peace in 756 (causing the Northumbrian army to leave prior to its being destroyed), and the 'burning' of 780, below, Alt Clut may now be dominated by the Picts.

c.760 - c.780

Eugein / Owen

Son. Killed during the 'burning' of 780?


The Annals of Ulster state that Dumbarton suffers a burning. It is possible that Eugein is killed by this event - usually a 'burning' signifies capture or a sacking, so this is clearly a very serious incident for the kingdom with the defences of its fortress capital being breached to some degree. Are subsequent kings merely vassals of the Picts?

c.780 - c.798

Rudderch / Riderch / Rhydderc


c.798 - 816


Relationship unknown. A vassal king?

816 - ?

Domgal / Dumnagual

Son of Rudderch.

fl c.859


Brother. Possibly a later addition to the king list.


This Constantin is relatively obscure. He perhaps could be the young Causantín mac Cináeda (Constantine II), later king of Alba, but the only specific mention of him comes from the Life of St Kentigern by Jocelyn of Furness. This regards him as a cleric. but he is absent from the official genealogies and may instead be a little-known St Constantine (died circa 640), a follower of St Columba who is venerated in the area around Glasgow.


? - 872

Arthgal map Dumnagual

Son of Domgal. Captured and killed by Vikings.

870 - 871

FeatureThe Annales Cambriae records that Ald Cluid (Dumbarton) is overcome by Vikings, 'black pagans' after a four month siege. Entries in the annals are often notoriously brief and lacking in detail (see feature link).

FeatureThe Vikings are led by Olaf the White and Ivarr the Boneless, joint kings of the Viking kingdom of Dublin (see feature link). After completing their violent conquest, the Vikings winter there before returning to Dublin with their prisoner, Arthgal, and a great number of other prisoners, including Britons, Picts, and even Angles.


The ambitious Rhun mac Arthgal (son of Arthgal) persuades his brother-in-law, Constantine of the Scots, to see that the Vikings execute Arthgal, so securing Rhun the throne and bringing to an end the British ruling dynasty of Alt Clut.

Once this happens, Glasgow begins to increase in importance to the detriment of Dumbarton. The name Strathclyde also first comes into use in this period, but, confusingly, the kingdom is also called Cumbria, after its southern territory.

MapStrathclyde / Strathalcluith (Cumbria)

The British Damnonii tribe seem to have created a kingdom in what is now south-western Scotland even before Roman control of the country had finally faded out entirely at the start of the fifth century AD. According to the few reliable records available, it was certainly firmly established by the late fifth century under the name of Alt Clut, one of the kingdoms controlled as part of 'The Old North' or, in Brythonic, Henn Ogledd. However, it was forever outside the Roman province of Britannia Secunda, which later became the 'Kingdom of Northern Britain', and therefore not part of the subsequent break-up process which so weakened that territory.

The kingdom maintained a virtually impregnable capital at Dumbarton Rock, which overlooks the estuary of the Clyde. Its forces continually shrugged off attacks by Picts and Northumbrians, but the Vikings proved a tougher opponent. In 870-871, after a four month siege they managed to penetrate its defences and the British kingdom fell to them. The ambitious Scotti, long-term rivals of the Picts in northern Scotland, ensured that the last British king of Alt Clut, Arthgal, was executed by the Vikings. Once the Vikings had finished wintering there, this act secured the kingdom for Rhun, brother-in-law of Constantine I of the Scotti but also son of Arthgal himself.

The Scotti knew the kingdom as Strathclyde - shown as Strathalcluith and later Strathcluaide in older forms of the modern name - all of which meant 'straddling' or 'crossing the Clyde'. The Saxon version of the name had the same meaning in the form of Strath-Clota. The old Brythonic name of Alt Clut appears to have been dropped very quickly by the Gaelic-speaking Scots, probably because the kingdom's focus now moved away from the rock to a safer location in the valley of the Clyde. Once King Rhun had seized the throne, it was regarded as a junior territory of Scotland itself, although direct control by the Scots may have been transitory and far from usual. Unfortunately, the line of succession is sometimes a little confused, especially on dates of rule.

Strathclyde apparently managed to extend the area under its control into Cumbria from about AD 900 onwards, but there are two schools of thought about this. One is that Scottish/Strathclyde sub-kings did indeed manage to extend their area of influence southwards into former Rheged, which had been conquered by the Northumbrian Angles and then taken over by various Viking elements, possibly with support from York. The other is that the shadowy 'kings of Cumbria' (Cumbria being a purely Brythonic name which is related to the Welsh 'cymri') managed to reassert independent British control of the region following the removal of Anglian and Viking authority. Numerous place names which point to a British origin confirm that a strong native element was still holding onto some form of control, but were they truly independent or merely elements of an expanded Strathclyde? If the former, then this was the last independent British kingdom to exist outside of Wales itself.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Mick Baker, from Kings and Warriors, Craftsmen and Priests in Northern Britain AD 550-850, Leslie Alcock (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2003), from The Kingship of the Scots 842-1292: Succession and Independence, A A M Duncan (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2002), from Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000, Alfred P Smyth (1984), from Anglo-Saxon England, Frank Stenton (Third Ed, Oxford University Press, 1971), from The Men of the North: The Britons and Southern Scotland, Tim Clarkson (EPUB, 2010), from The Makers of Scotland: Picts, Romans, Gaels and Vikings, Tim Clarkson (EPUB, 2012), from The Picts: A History, Tim Clarkson (2012, EPUB), from Strathclyde and the Anglo-Saxons in the Viking Age, Tim Clarkson (EPUB, 2014), and from External Links: Duncan I [Donnchad ua Maíl Choluim], D Broun (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), and Libellus de exordio atque procurso istius, hoc est Dunhelmensis, ecclesie (Tract on the origins and progress of this the church of Durham), Symeon of Durham (Reviews in History).)

872 - 878

Rhun mac Arthgal

Son of Arthgal. Brother-in-law of Constantine of the Scots.

872 - 877

Constantine II mac Kenneth of the Scots fights four battles during this period (as recorded by the Prophecy of Berchán). Three of those are against Vikings, but the fourth is the Battle of Cath Lures, a location which has tentatively been identified with Glasgow, in which the 'king of the Britons of the green mantles' is overcome.

The title 'king of the Britons' is recognised as being the ruler of Strathclyde (it is also used in Irish records), while the green mantles could refer to the king's usual garb. However, the early form of 'Glasgow' may have been the Cumbric 'Cathures', adopted into Gaelic as Glasgu, and with a possible meaning of 'green valley'. Defeating the king of the green mantle could refer to a defeat of the ruler of Glasgow and its green valley. The name of the king himself is not recorded but it has to be assumed that it is Rhun, presumably attempting to establish or confirm his independence from Constantine - unsuccessfully, it seems.

Glasgow park
Were the once-open fields around the small ninth century settlement of Glasgow on the Clyde the site of the Battle of Cath Lures at some point between 872-877?

878 - 889

Eochu / Eochaid

Son. King of the Scots (878-889).


Eochu and Giric are generally claimed as kings of the Scots but it is unclear whether they rule jointly or as opponents, or even one after the other. Giric could hold the senior position over the Scots with Eochu ruling in Strathclyde, although Eochu's Strathclyde connections are far from certain. He does, however, have a Pictish mother to back up his claim for the joint Scots and Pictish throne while Giric's ancestry is unknown. Eochu's successor in Strathclyde is also unknown until a notice of the death of Donald I is recorded.

889 - 900/908

Donald I

Cousin? Donald II of the Scots (889-900).


Around this time, Galwyddel in far south-western Scotland is absorbed into the kingdom when the region's former ruler, Ynys Manau, is overrun by Vikings. Galwyddel still experiences a relatively high degree of Norse or Norse-Gael settlement, with a lower corresponding drift into areas dominated by northern Britons. Strathclyde also seems to gain the former North Rheged territory of Cumbria from the Scandinavian kingdom of York at this time.

900 - 908

There is a gap in the list of kings of Strathclyde which can only be explained by the kingdom being ruled directly by the Scots. One other possibility is raised by the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba which records five deaths during the reign of Scots king, Constantine III. The death of Donald (Dyfnwal) seems to fall between 908-915. The accession of Donald II mac Aed in 908 is also somewhat questionable. His role could be purely administrative for the Scots king, although he does definitely become king in 940.

908 - 916

Donald II mac Aed / Dunmail

Son of the Scots king. Effectively a sub-king if actually ruling.

916/925 - 937

Eogan / Owain / Owen mac Donald

Son of Donald I. Granted by Constantine II of the Scots.

934 - 937

The grand alliance which includes the Scots, Northumbrian Danes at York, Dublin Danes, and the Welsh of Gwynedd and Cumbria (seemingly under Strathclyde's rule), mass their forces north of the Humber in a bold attempt to destroy Æthelstan of Wessex. The plan fails, however, when the men of Strathclyde are defeated in 934 and the West Saxons and Mercians of the south destroy the alliance at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937. Following this defeat there may be some northern British migration into Gwynedd, based upon a somewhat confused Welsh tradition.

940 - 943

Donald II mac Aed / Dunmail

Returned to the throne or first rule?

943 - 954

Indulf mac Constantine

King of the Scots (954-962).


There is a major invasion by the West Saxon King Edmund. Following Strathclyde's defeat at the Battle of Dunmail Rise, the king (presumably providing the name Donald (II) with a more Brythonic pronunciation as Dunmail) is supposedly killed and buried underneath a cairn on the border with the English (formerly the dividing line between the old counties of Cumberland and Westmorland). This is despite evidence clearly supporting his survival until 975 and even an apparent return to the kingship. The fate of his two sons is less ambiguous - they take refuge on a nearby mountain where they are captured, blinded, and castrated, thereby ensuring no succession.

Dunmail Raise cairn
Although probably 'improved' by later generations - the Victorians were notorious for such works - the cairn at Dunmail Raise supposedly marks the burial location of King Dunmail (Donald II) of Strathclyde (943)

FeatureThere is some confusion following the attack and some sources seem to suggest that for a time (probably only in the reign of Malcolm mac Donald) Cumbria (the southern half of the kingdom) splits away from Strathclyde and claims independence as a separate kingdom. This may instead be a confusion of the two names being used by different sources for the kingdom as a whole, but it may also be a result of Donald II being removed from the kingship.

954 - 962

Dubh mac Malcolm / Duff

King of the Scots (954-962).

962 - 971

Donald III mac Eoghain

Entered the church pre-971. Died a pilgrim 975.

971 - 972

Amdarch / Riderch mac Donald


971 - 972

King Culen mac Indulf of the Scots and his brother, Eochaid, are slain by Britons, with Amdarch/Riderch mac Donald (Rhydderch ap Dyfnwal) generally being identified as the culprit in revenge for the king's abduction and rape of his daughter. In the same year Amdarch is shown as being the king of Strathclyde, presumably either in opposition to Culen (which may account for the kidnap of his daughter) or as a result of Culen's death. However, Amdarch disappears in the following year as a result of an attack by the Scots - clearly a revenge attack for the loss of their king. The throne of Strathclyde is claimed by his brother, Malcolm, but Amdarch seemingly returns in 975.

973 - 997

Malcolm mac Donald mac Eoghain

Son of Donald III. Not same as Malcolm II of the Scots.


Malcolm assumes the title 'King of the Cumbrians', but this is thought to include all of Strathclyde including Cumbria. However, its use is interesting. Could Malcolm be a native Briton who is striving to reassert the independence of his own people in the face of Scots rule? Also, could the apparent return of Amdarch signal the division of the kingdom, with Amdarch in the north and Malcolm in the south?

975 - 997?

Amdarch / Riderch mac Donald

Did he return to reclaim the throne? King in Strathclyde only?

997 - 1018

Eoghain II / Owen the Bald

A Strathclyde British ruler?

1018 - 1034

It is thought that the little-known Owen dies at the Battle of Carham in Northumbria in 1018. It seems likely that he has a British successor, but this person's name is unknown, and the extent of his domain must also be a matter of great uncertainty, with the Scots also claiming to control areas of the kingdom.

The latter certainty subdue the kingdom in stages between 1018-1034 (with the work usually being credited to Malcolm II but with his successor shown as the region's ruler until Malcolm's death). The very need for Strathclyde to be subdued by the Scots shows that it has certainly fallen outside their control, despite the somewhat unsteady hand they seem to have kept on the succession for many years.

Carham parish church
Carham lies on the south bank of the River Tweed, now on the English side of the border with Scotland, with a more modern church building now sitting on a site which has been a church possession since AD 675 (External Link: Creative Commons Licence)

1018 - 1034

Duncan mac Crinan

Grandson of Malcolm II. King of the Scots (1034-1040).


Assigning Duncan to a role as ruler of Strathclyde appears to have become somewhat controversial in some quarters in the twenty-first century. Overall though it still makes more sense than him not being there. With Duncan's accession to the Scottish crown in succession to his grandfather, Malcolm II, Strathclyde is fully merged into that kingdom, seemingly never again to hold any independent status.

1038 - 1039

Eadulf of Bamburgh launches an attack on Scots territory by raiding into Cumbria in 1038. In a revenge attack, Duncan lays siege to Durham in the following year, only to be put to flight. His cavalry is savaged during the fighting and the heads of his slain foot soldiers are collected in the marketplace to be hung upon posts. Eadulf's actions soon bring retribution down upon his head from Duncan's relative by marriage and Eadulf's main opposition in the north of England - Siward, ruler in York and would-be earl of Northumbria.

c.1054 - 1057


Son of Malcolm mac Donald? Ruled under Northumbria.


The English King Edward the Confessor dispatches Earl Siward of Northumbria against the Scots, ruled by Mac Bethad mac Findláich (Macbeth), to reinstall Malcolm, 'son of the king of the Cumbrians', in Strathclyde. This they seemingly do, and Strathclyde is again removed from Scots control.

The name Malcolm causes confusion, as some think that this refers to the later king of Scots, Malcolm III Canmore. This seems to be a generally accepted view, but not fully. How long this particular Malcolm remains 'king of the Cumbrians' is unknown. If he rules independently then it is certainly not later than 1070, when all of Strathclyde is under Scottish control. However, this Scots control is certainly that of Malcolm Canmore who may be the very same person as Malcolm of Cumbria - or maybe not! Also unknown is whether 'Cumbria' is applied by the English to the whole of Strathclyde or if it is a referral to the previous possible division of Cumbria and Strathclyde.

1091 - 1093

Another raid across the border by King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland in 1091 ends in defeat, and again he has to submit to the English king. It seems that the English finally drive out the Scots from their hold on Cumbria immediately after this. Malcolm leads a final incursion in 1093 which leads to his defeat and death at Alnwick. His son and heir, Edward, dies in the same battle and Queen Margaret dies in Edinburgh Castle, four days later. Cumbria is now a permanent possession of the English while Strathclyde is forever Scottish.

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