Tour Scotland
Home Page


Scottish Acquisition Of Lothian

We cannot pretend within our scope to follow chronologically “the fightings and flockings of kites and crows,” in “a wolf-age, a war-age,” when the Northmen from all Scandinavian lands, and the Danes, who had acquired much of Ireland, were flying at the throat of England and hanging on the flanks of Scotland; while the Britons of Strathclyde struck in, and the Scottish kings again and again raided or sought to occupy the fertile region of Lothian between Forth and Tweed. If the dynasty of MacAlpin could win rich Lothian, with its English-speaking folk, they were “made men,” they held the granary of the North. By degrees and by methods not clearly defined they did win the Castle of the Maidens, the acropolis of Dunedin, Edinburgh; and fifty years later, in some way, apparently by the sword, at the battle of Carham (1018), in which a Scottish king of Cumberland fought by his side, Malcolm II. took possession of Lothian, the whole south-east region, by this time entirely anglified, and this was the greatest step in the making of Scotland. The Celtic dynasty now held the most fertile district between Forth and Tweed, a district already English in blood and speech, the centre and focus of the English civilisation accepted by the Celtic kings. Under this Malcolm, too, his grandson, Duncan, became ruler of Strathclyde, that is, practically, of Cumberland.

Malcolm is said to have been murdered at haunted Glamis, in Forfarshire, in 1034; the room where he died is pointed out by legend in the ancient castle. His rightful heir, by the strange system of the Scots, should have been, not his own grandson, Duncan, but the grandson of Kenneth III. The rule was that the crown went alternately to a descendant of the House of Constantine (863-877), son of Kenneth MacAlpine, and to a descendant of Constantine’s brother, Aodh (877-888). These alternations went on till the crowning of Malcolm II. (1005-1034), and then ceased, for Malcolm II. had slain the unnamed male heir of the House of Aodh, a son of Boedhe, in order to open the succession to his own grandson, “the gracious Duncan.” Boedhe had left a daughter, Gruach; she had by the Mormaor, or under-king of the province of Murray, a son, Lulach. On the death of the Mormaor she married Macbeth, and when Macbeth slew Duncan (1040), he was removing a usurper—as he understood it, and he ruled in the name of his stepson, Lulach. The power of Duncan had been weakened by repeated defeats at the hands of the Northmen under Thorfinn. In 1057 Macbeth was slain in battle at Lumphanan, in Aberdeenshire, and Malcolm Canmore, son of Duncan, after returning from England, whither he had fled from Macbeth, succeeded to the throne. But he and his descendants for long were opposed by the House of Murray, descendants of Lulach, who himself had died in 1058.

The world will always believe Shakespeare’s version of these events, and suppose the gracious Duncan to have been a venerable old man, and Macbeth an ambitious Thane, with a bloodthirsty wife, he himself being urged on by the predictions of witches. He was, in fact, Mormaor of Murray, and upheld the claims of his stepson Lulach, who was son of a daughter of the wrongfully extruded House of Aodh.

Malcolm Canmore, Duncan’s grandson, on the other hand, represented the European custom of direct lineal succession against the ancient Scots’ mode.

Return To A Short History Of Scotland



Tour Scotland
Tour Edinburgh
Tour Island Of Skye

Rent A Self Catering Hoilday Cottage In Scotland

Share This Tour Scotland Web Page

Top Destinations
Tour Europe