MJ Porter’s Official Blog
Guest Post https://mjporterauthor.blog/
The Scots of Dalriada by Rowena Kinread
The Scots of Dalriada takes place in 5th century Ireland and Scotland and tells the fictional story of the legendary king Fergus Mór. Recorded Irish history begins with the introduction of Christianity and Latin literacy, beginning in the 5th century. Most of my research however, relied on sources written much later.
First and foremost, Studies in the History of Dalriada by John Bannerman. Published in 1974 this book is no longer in print but can be purchased second-hand.
My research of the Dalriada began fifteen years ago when I discovered that my ancestors descended from the Dalriada. History is compelling, especially when your own ancestors are involved, and the stories around the Dalriada didn’t let me go. I had to wait three years to obtain a copy of this book but it was definitely worth it, as it is much more comprehensive and detailed than anything to be found on the net.
It amazed me that St. Patrick was kidnapped as a teenager and sold to the Dalriada. He stayed with them, working as a shepherd on the exposed hills of Slemish until he miraculously escaped. When he returned to Ireland in his role as missionary, his first self-imposed duty was to convert the Dalriadians, despite bitter opposition from the druids.
See my first book from this period about the life of St.Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland.
By Rowena Kinread
Publisher: Vanguard Press (28 April 2021)
Although both books take place in 5th century Ireland, they are entirely independent of each other.
5th century Ireland and Scotland is at the end of the Iron Age and beginning of the early Medieval Age. This period includes an expansion of the Dalriada clan to Western Scotland. Ireland, at the time, was divided into many small baronies, each ruled by an underking. Life was dominated by a myriad of petty wars, neighbouring clans were constantly under attack from each other, stealing cattle and crop and encroaching upon each other’s land.
The Dalriada was situated in the utmost North East of Ireland, composed of much that is presently known as Antrim. To the North and East their territory was bordered by the North Channel and the Irish Sea. To the South and West, by the aggressive tribes of the Northern Uí Néill, the Dál Fiatach and the Dál nAraide, who continually attacked the Dalriada. So it was only natural that the Dalriada sought to expand their kingdom across the North Channel.
These background facts form the setting for my, mainly fictional, novel about Fergus. The book covers his life from roughly 440 to 501 AD, when his ship is sea wrecked, and he is succeeded by his son Domangart.
By that time the Dalriada have conquered Argyll ("Coast of the Gaels") and built their chief stronghold and trading centre at Dunadd. The hillfort of Dunadd is believed to have been their capital. Other royal forts included Dunollie, Dunaverty and Dunseverick. Within Dalriada was the important monastery of Iona, which played a key role in the spread of Celtic Christianity throughout northern Britain, and in the development of insular art. Iona was a centre of learning and produced many important manuscripts. Dalriada had a strong seafaring culture and a large naval fleet.
Scotland is said to have been founded by the legendary king Fergus Mór (Fergus the Great) in the 5th century. Heavy onslaughts from the Picts checked the Dalriada on the Scottish mainland. In the 8th century the Dalriada gradually declined; and after the Viking invasions early in the 9th century, it lost all political identity. In the mid-9th century its king Kenneth I MacAlpin brought the Picts and Scoti (the Roman name for the Irish Gaels) permanently together, and thereafter the whole country was known as Scotland.
More books that I read to complement my research:
A Brief History of Ireland by Richard Killeen
Ireland's Forgotten Past: A History of the Overlooked and Disremembered by Turtle Bunbury
A History of Scotland by Neil Oliver
Scotland: History of a Nation by David Ross
The Book of Celtic Myths: From the Mystic Might of the Celtic Warriors to the Magic of the Fey Folk, the Storied History and Folklore of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales by Adams Media
Satellite image of Scotland and Northern Ireland showing the approximate greatest extent of Dál Riata (shaded). The mountainous spine which separates the east and west coasts of Scotland can be seen.
Ancient hill fort at Dunadd