Age of Conflict: Picts, Dalriadan Scots, Britons & Anglo-Saxons (551 AD to 779 AD)

•     558 AD     Gabran dies. He is the first King of Dalriada to conduct expeditions to the east of his territory outside Dalriada. After his death, a ‘forced withdrawal’ is reported from the territory of Bridei mac Maelcon. A version of the history of Dalriada appears in the Irish Annals. The three main versions are the Annals of Innisfallen, the Annals of Tigernach and the Annals of Ulster. They have some material in common but not always in the same order.1

•     563 AD     St. Columba in his 42nd year leaves for Scotland (He was an scion of the Ui Neill royal family in Ireland (an O’Neil Prince in Ireland).2

•     565 AD     About 565 AD, St Columba visited the Pictish King Bridei mac Maelchon at his court near Inverness, and met the Orkney King who was a subservient to the main Court. St Columba was concerned about the safety of one of his hermits who was looking for a site to settle in the north and it is recorded he asked Bridei to command the Orcadian King to ensure the hermits well being in Orkney.3 Adomnan reported Bridei had hostages from the King of Orkney at the time of St Columba’s mission to Bridei’s court.4 St Columba’s mission to Bridei’s court was to gain safe conduct for his friend Cormac’s mission to Orkney.5

•     565 AD     The Picts were seafarers and sailed to nearby islands on both peaceful and aggressive missions. Warriors and battle scenes appear on many of their carvings, and there is evidence that warfare came to be a fundamental element in life. Though the King of Orkney was powerful at home he appears to have been subservient to the King in Inverness. In 565, the Orcadians at the court of Bridei were described as hostages. Yet in Orkney, the settlement evidence from this time indicates the old broach defenses were allowed to fall into disrepair, and that people moved away from the safety of villages to the countryside. There seems to have been some stability for the common people even in a time of uncertainty and aggression.6

•     575 AD     A convention is held in the presence of St Columba to discuss the relationship of the Irish Dalriada and the then King of Scottish Dalriada, Aedan mac Gabrain and to the Northern Ui Neill’s leader, Aed, son of Ainmire (overlord of northern Ireland).

•     580 AD     Cormac, friend of St Columba, makes a missionary journey to Orkney.7

•     581 AD     Aedan mac Gabrain visits Orkney whose Pictish king had sent hostages to Bridei mac Maelcon.8

•     584 AD     Bridei dies at the Battle of Asreth in Circinn.9

•     June 9, 597 AD     St Columba dies.10

•     600 AD (circa)      Corinie, Aberdeenshire: Aiden defeated by the Picts.11

•     600 AD     A coalition of Britons under King Mynyddog of Gododdin was slaughtered by Northumbrians at Catterick in Deiran territory in 600 AD or slightly earlier. Only one soldier survived the battle.12

•     603 AD     Aethelfrith, the King of Northumbria at the Battle of Degsastan defeated Aedan of the Scots, working perhaps in alliance with the Britons of Strathcyde. Aethelfrith extended Northumbrian territory as far as the Firth of Forth.13

•     605 AD     Bernicia becomes part of Northumbria by 605 AD.14 Bernicia and Deira are fused into one. The Angles take over Rheged, penetrate into Galloway and advance into Pictland.15 King Ethelfrid (Aethelfrith) of Bernicia unites Bernicia and Daira to form Northumbria.16

•     617 AD     Pagen King Penda of Mercia and Christian King Cadwalla of Wales defeat King Edwin at Hatfield Chase and devastate Northumbria.17

•     617 AD     Northumbria was divided between Deira in the south and Bernicia in the north. The ruler of Deira triumphed over the Bernicians whose king was Aethelfrith. Aethelfirth’s sons were exiled. Some went to Ireland and some went to Pictland. One son, Eanfrith, married a Pictish princess. Eanfrith returned to Bernicia to become King. He was killed on a visit to Mercia during a visit shortly thereafter.18

•     October 12, 633 AD      King Edwin of Northumbria is killed and his army is destroyed by the army led by King Penda of Mercia and Cadwallon of Wales.19

•     637 AD     Oswald, nephew of Edwin, comes to power in Northumbria20 and invites Ionia to send a bishop to establish the Christian religion in Northumbria. Aidan is sent and he is given land at Lindisfarne to establish a mission.21

•     638 AD     The Anglicans capture Edinburgh, marking the end of the kingdom of Goddodin.

•     642 AD     Oswald is slain and Oswy succeeds him as king of the Northumbrians.22

•     664 AD     Synod of Whitby, held by King Oswy, brings and end to the Ionian tradition in Northumbria.23 Bishop Colman of the Celtic Church returned to Ionia with many of the Irish Clergy who left Northumbria.24

•     668 AD (circa)      Oswiu (Oswy), brother of Oswald, son in law of Edwin, extended Northumbrian Territory with the conquest of part of Dalriada and Pictland. Oswiu had succeeded his brother Oswald. Oswald who had succeeded Eanfrith had united Bernica and Deira, prior to Oswiu extending Northumbrian territory. Free Pictland was ruled by Gartnait and his successor Drest. The Southern Picts were ruled by the Angles (Northumbrians) for thirty years.25

•     668 AD (circa)      Drest stirred up a revolt which was put down by the Northumbrians under their King Ecgfrith. He is said in The Life of St Wilfrid by Eddius Stephanus to have made a bridge of Pictish corpses over two rivers so his army could cross.26 Stephanus vividly describes the battle.27

•     670 AD     Oswy dies.28

•     672 AD     Drest, King of the Picts, is deposed and replaced by Bridei mac Bili.29

•     673 AD     The monastery of Applecross was founded around 673 AD by St Maelrubha from Bangor in Ireland.30

•     675-754 AD      St Boniface became known as the Apostle of Germany31 It is suggested by some that an early Bishop had his seat at St Boniface in Papa Westray; nearby is the chapel dedicated to St Tredwell.32 See also 840 AD for information on St Tredwell and St Findan.

•     681 AD     King Bridei devastates Orkney, though the precise nature of the destruction is subject to debate between Scholars. Orkney was also involved its own right in warfare with Ulster and the Ulster Scots who were settling as the people of Dal Riada in Argyll.33

•     682 AD     Bridei mac Bile campaigned widely and successfully, raising a fleet and destroying the growing power of the Orkneys.34

•     May 20, 685 AD      Nechtansmere (Northumbrian Invasion of Scotland, Dunnichen Moss near Forfar, in Angus Scotland King Bridei mac Bili) of the Picts defeats Oswy’s son Egfrith and the Northumbrians35 Egfrith is also called Ecgfrith.36

•     693 AD     Bridei mac Bili dies having reclaimed Pictland from the Northumbrians.37

•     698 AD     Brude son of Derile, king of the Picts, defeats the Northumbrians, killing their leader Bertred son of Bernith.38

•     704 AD     St Adomnan dies.39

•     706 AD     Nechton mac Derelei becomes King of the Picts. He ends the conflict with Northumbria and opened up Pictland to Anglican influence. It was during his reign the Roman Catholic Church became established and Pictland followed the Roman Catholic calculation of when Easter occurred.40

•     706 AD?     St Tredwell, whose Latin name, was Triduana, was known to the Norsemen as Trollhaena. She was a Scottish saint who is surrounded by shadowy legend. According to one version, she awakened the passion of King Nechtan of the Picts who sent messengers to tell her how much he admired the beauty of her eyes. She then committed the astonishing act of tearing out her eyes, and skewering them on a twig for the messengers to take back to the King. Perhaps it was not a senseless action on her part after all: she realized that this was her only chance of securing her personal freedom. Surrounded by the best Farming land in Papay (Papa Westray) is the Lock of St Tredwell. On a small holm that today is connected to the shore, are the remains of St Tredwell’s Chapel, built on the site of an earlier broch. It is not clear what St Tredwell’s connection with Papay was, but some believe that she was buried there. St Tredwell was associated with the blind and those who suffered from eye afflictions. Over the years many came to the site to pray in hopes their eyesight would be restored. The Orkneyinga Saga tells the story of Bishop Jon of Caithness who, blinded by Earl Harold Maddadarson’s knife in 1201, had his sight restored after praying to St Tredwell. The skeleton of a woman was actually found on the site of St Tredwell’s chapel during an excavation in the 19th Century.41

•     709 AD     A second expediton against Orkney by the Picts is implied.42

•     711 AD      The Anglians triumph over the Picts at Manaw. After the battle Nechton came to an accord with the old enemy which secured his nations southern frontier for many years. The new friendship was reinforced by Nechton’s pragmatic acceptance of Northumbrian advice to alter the Easter observance in the Pictish church from the Celtic to the Roman practice.43

•     711 AD      Nechton requires the churches in Pictland to follow the Roman tonsure and date for Easter.44

•     713 AD      The latter part of Nechton’s reign was marked by a long and bitter struggle for power between the king and three rivals. The first signs of trouble began in 713 AD and did not end until the victory of King Oengus I over his rivals Drest in 729 AD.45

•     715 AD      Orkney is Christianized from Northumbria. Eight churches are dedicated to St Peter, with each church standing on the site of a former broch.46

•     717 AD      Nechton expelled the ‘family of Iona’ across the spine of Britain as part of his support of the Roman Church.47

•     721 AD     An ‘episcopus Scotiae Pictus’ is reported to have attended a council in Rome. It is not known if he was a Pict by birth or if his diocese was in Pictland.48

•     724 AD     Necton abdicates to enter a monastery.49

•     726 AD     Nechton’s successor Drust was deposed by Alpin also known as Elpin.50

•     728 AD     Oengus defeats Elpin at Monidcroib (possibly Montcreiff) and at Castle Credi.51

•     729 AD     Oengus I (Onuist or Angus) mac Fergus fights a series of battles between 728 AD and 729 AD, culminating in the battle at Monith Carno52 Called Monitcarno or Cairn o’Mount, located high up in a mountain pass that served as an important link between Northern and Southern Picts, Nechtan’s (Nechton’s) army suffers a crushing defeat.53

•     729 AD     Oengus meets and kills Drust in the final battle of the Civil war that started in 724 AD at Dromadarggblathmig.54

•     731 AD     Oengus’s son Brude made a successful sortie into Dalriada.55

•     732 AD     Nechtan (Nechton), son of Derile dies peacefully.56

•     733 AD     When Oengus’s son Brude is seized while in sanctuary, Oengus has the excuse he needs to take advantage of Dalriada’s internal divisions and to launch a massive strike right at the heart of Scottish territory.

•     734 AD     Oengus, King of the Picts made his first attack on the Scots in 734 AD, the year after the death of Echdach, son of Echach, a claimant to the throne in Dalriada.57 The Picts manage to break through to the west coast, thereby dividng the kingdom in two and putting themselves in an excellent position from which to organize an even more devastating campaign in 736 AD.58

•     736 AD     Oengus struck Dalriada again, laying waste to the land of Dalriada. In less than ten years Oengus made himself master of the whole of Scotland, north of the Forth-Clyde line. His kingdom then coincided broadly with the country known to the Romans as Cacedonia. This is the first time the area known as Calcedonia was under the rule of a single king.59

•     740 AD     Oengus blocks King Eadberht of Northumbria from invading Pictland.60

•     741 AD      Oengus gained control of Dalriada after several years of campaigning by 741 AD.61

•     741 AD      From around 741 AD, for about 100 years most of Dalriada was under the control of Pictland.62

•     750 AD      Oengus was apparently allied with Cuthred of Wessex and Aethelbald of Mercia against the Strathclyde Britons, but the alliance seems to have fallen apart because Cuthred fell out with Aethelbald and Oengus. The Britons retaliated against the Picts, who under the leadership of Oengus’s brother Talorcan were defeated and Talocan was killed in battle.63 In the Irish Annals, the battle is called the Battle of Catohic, and by the Britons it is recorded as the Battle of Mocetauc, which has been identified with Mugdock, between Milngavie and Strathblane, a few miles north of Glasgow.64

•     756 AD      Weakened by Talocan’s death and the defeat by the Britons, Oengus allied with the Northumbrians advances on Alt Clut, Dumbarton , Rock. The invading army was defeated and Oengus retreated to Pictland to die in 761 AD.65

•     761 AD      Oengus (Aengus), King of the Picts dies.66

•     768 AD     Ciniod, King of the Picts, defends his kingdom from the invading Dalriadan army. The Irish Annals record simply a battle in Fortren between Aedh and Cinaedh. Aedh Finn was the son of Echdach (Eochaid), King of Dalriada.67

•     775 AD     Cinaedh (Ciniod), King of the Picts died in 775 AD.68

•     778 AD     Aed died. He had won back independence for Dalriada sometime before his death.69


  1. 558 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 42. 

  2. 563 AD-Scotland, The Story of a Nation, ©Magnus Magnusson, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000. A Timeline of Early Orcadian History, www.orkneyjar.com/history/timeline.htm, 6/18/01. 

  3. 565 AD-Orkney, A Historical Guide, © Caroline Wickham Jones, 1998, page 100. 

  4. 565 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 15. 

  5. 565 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 49. 

  6. 565 AD-Orkney, A Historical Guide, © Caroline Wickham Jones, 1998, page 111. 

  7. 580 AD-A Timeline of Early Orcadian History, www.orkneyjar.com/history/timeline.htm, 6/18/01. 

  8. 581 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 43. 

  9. 584 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 15. 

  10. 597 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 49. 

  11. 600 AD-Battles Fought in England, Scotland and Wales, compiled by Peter R. Hamilton-Leggett (www.argonet.co.uk/users/hamleg/bat.html-12/4/01). 

  12. 600 AD-Ancient Scotland, Stewart Ross 1991, Barnes & Noble, 1998, page 138. Invaders of Scotland, Anna Richie & David J. Breeze, Historic Scotland, 2000, page 29. 

  13. 603 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 15. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Translated and collated by Anne Savage, 2000, page 36. 

  14. 605 AD-Scotland, The Story of a Nation, ©Magnus Magnusson, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000, page 27 

  15. 605 AD-Invaders of Scotland, Anna Richie & David J. Breeze, Historic Scotland, 2000, page 29. 

  16. 605 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 89. 

  17. 617 AD-Ancient Scotland, Stewart Ross 1991, Barnes & Noble, 1998, page 142. 

  18. 617 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 16. 

  19. 633 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 90. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Translated and collated by Anne Savage, 2000, page 41. 

  20. 637 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 154. 

  21. 637 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 91. 

  22. 642 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, pages 90,91. 

  23. 664 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 49. 

  24. 664 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 93. 

  25. 668 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 16. The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 92. 

  26. 668 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 16. 

  27. 668 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 94. 

  28. 670 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 90. 

  29. 672 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 16. 

  30. 673 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 27. 

  31. 675-754 AD-The Islands of Orkney, Liv Kjorsvik Schei, 2000, page 89. 

  32. 675-754 AD-Orkney, A Historical Guide, © Caroline Wickham Jones, 1998, page 101. 

  33. 681 AD-Orkney, A Historical Guide, © Caroline Wickham Jones, 1998, pages 99-100. The Islands of Orkney, Liv Kjorsvik Schei, 2000, page 18. 

  34. 682 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 16. The Islands of Orkney, Liv Kjorsvik Schei, 2000, page 18. 

  35. 685 AD-Famous Scottish Battles, by Philip Warner, Barnes & Noble Books, 1975, 1996, pages 20-32. Battles Fought in England, Scotland and Wales, compiled by Peter R. Hamilton-Leggett (www.argonet.co.uk/users/hamleg/bat.html-12/4/01). 

  36. 685 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 16. 

  37. 693 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 16. 

  38. 698 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 95. 

  39. 704 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 64. 

  40. 706 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, pages 16,17. 

  41. 706 AD?-The Islands of Orkney, Liv Kjorsvik Schei, 2000, pages 90-91. 

  42. 709 AD-The Islands of Orkney, Liv Kjorsvik Schei, 2000, page 19. 

  43. 711 AD-Ancient Scotland, Stewart Ross 1991, Barnes & Noble, 1998, pages 125-6. 

  44. 711 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 97. 

  45. 713 AD-Ancient Scotland, Stewart Ross 1991, Barnes & Noble, 1998, page 126. 

  46. 715 AD-The Islands of Orkney, Liv Kjorsvik Schei, 2000, page 18. 

  47. 717 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 97. 

  48. 721 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 27. 

  49. 724 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 17. 

  50. 726 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 17. The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 98. 

  51. 728 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 134. 

  52. 729 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 17. 

  53. 729 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 98. 

  54. 729 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 99. 

  55. 731 AD-Ancient Scotland, Stewart Ross 1991, Barnes & Noble, 1998, page 127. 

  56. 732 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 99. 

  57. 734 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 100. 

  58. 734 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 126. 

  59. 736 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 100. 

  60. 740 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 17. 

  61. 741 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 17. 

  62. 741 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 44. 

  63. 750 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 17. 

  64. 750 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 101. 

  65. 756 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 17. 

  66. 761 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, pages 101,105. 

  67. 768 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 101. 

  68. 775 AD-The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 101. 

  69. 778 AD-The Picts and the Scots, Lloyd And Jenny Laing, © 1993, published with corrections 1994, Reprinted 1994, 1995, page 17. The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995, reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books, 1998, page 104.