© Walter Jardine 2018

Dal Riata

Also known as Dalriada, Dal Riata was a kingdom of Gaels, called Scotti by the Romans, who had begun migrating from the north-east of Ireland around the second century AD to escape the famine. When Kenneth mac Alpin (a Pict) became king of both Dal Riata and Pictland in 840 AD (through marriage, not conquest) he moved his court from Dunadd to Scone to escape the Norse who were beginning to raid more and more frequently from the west.

Norse Occupation

The western islands (the Hebrides) were acknowledged by the Scottish kings to be Norwegian territory and were ruled from the Isle of Mann by a Norse king, subject to the King of Norway. The Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland) and northern parts of the mainland were separate from the Manx kingdom, ruled by the Norse Earls of Orkney, also subject to the King of Norway. By Somerled’s time (born around 1110) much of the western highlands was also occupied by the Norse. This “unauthorised” occupation was largely ignored by the kings of Scotland. The Gaels still living in these areas submitted to Norse rule. Many, including clan leaders, sought sanctuary in Ireland.

The Return from Exile

Somerled’s early activities were to secure a safe place to live. Inevitably, he became involved in widers issues.

Walter - Knight for Hire

Walter’s family came from Dol-de-Bretagne. He later returned to France as part of Princess (Empress) Matilda’s entourage. Normandy was part of King Henry’s domain. Henry wanted Matilda to marry Geoffrey of Anjou to protect Normandy’s southern border. When Henry I died, whoever gained the English crown would also expand their French territory into Normandy. Spoiler alert: Stephen of Blois won the race. So began many years of war between Matilda and Stephen supporters. Scotland (including Somerled) became involved.
Pictland Dal Riata(Gaels/Scots) Scotland c. 800 AD Dunadd Scone Alba(Scotland) Norseoccupied Scotland c. 1100 AD Somerled’s journey home aged 12 Harris Lewis N. Uist S. Uist Skye Ardtornish Lough Erne North Channel Peel Isle of Mann Battle ofRenfrew Battle of theStandard atNorthallerton 1156 sea battle 1158 sea battle DonegalBay Scone Perth Dunadd Ross Mory Islay Finlaggan Lagavulin Kintyre Arran Lorn Bute Morvern Mull Roxburgh Broadford Bay Knapdale Cookston Wider events in Somerled’s time The early battles Morvern Mull Lochaber Ardnamuchan Lorn Rhum Eig Tiree Coll Ulva Moidart Ardgour Ardtoe Acharacle Ardtornish Savary Salen Knock Fionnphort Fidden Loch Linnhe Firth of Lorn Sound of Mull Loch Aline Loch Eilt Loch Ailort Loch Shiel Loch Sunart Great Glen Iona
© Walter Jardine 2018

Dal Riata

Also known as Dalriada, Dal Riata was a kingdom of Gaels, called Scotti by the Romans, who had begun migrating from the north- east of Ireland around the second century AD to escape famine. When Kenneth mac Alpin (a Pict) became king of both Dal Riata and Pictland in 840 AD (through marriage, not conquest) he moved his court from Dunadd to Scone to escape the Norse who were beginning to raid more and more frequently from the west.

Norse Occupation

The western islands (the Hebrides) were acknowledged by the Scottish kings to be Norwegian territory and were ruled from the Isle of Mann by a Norse king, subject to the King of Norway. The Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland) and northern parts of the mainland were separate from the Manx kingdom, ruled by the Norse Earls of Orkney, also subject to the King of Norway. By Somerled’s time (born around 1110) much of the western highlands was also occupied by the Norse. This “unauthorised” occupation was largely ignored by the kings of Scotland. The Gaels still living in these areas submitted to Norse rule. Many, including clan leaders, sought sanctuary in Ireland.

The Return from Exile

Somerled’s early activities were to secure a safe place to live. Inevitably, he became involved in widers issues.

Walter - Knight for Hire

Walter’s family came from Dol-de-Bretagne. He later returned to France as part of Princess (Empress) Matilda’s entourage. Normandy was part of King Henry’s domain. Henry wanted Matilda to marry Geoffrey of Anjou to protect Normandy’s southern border. When Henry I died, whoever gained the English crown would also expand their French territory into Normandy. Spoiler alert: Stephen of Blois won the race. So began many years of war between Matilda and Stephen supporters. Scotland (including Somerled) became involved.
Pictland Dal Riata(Gaels/Scots) Scotland c. 800 AD Dunadd Scone Alba(Scotland) Norseoccupied Scotland c. 1100 AD Somerled’s journey home aged 12 Harris Lewis N. Uist S. Uist Skye Ardtornish Lough Erne North Channel Peel Isle of Mann Battle ofRenfrew Battle of theStandard atNorthallerton 1156 sea battle 1158 sea battle DonegalBay Scone Perth Dunadd Ross Mory Islay Finlaggan Lagavulin Kintyre Arran Lorn Bute Morvern Mull Roxburgh Broadford Bay Knapdale Cookston Wider events in Somerled’s time The early battles Morvern Mull Lochaber Ardnamuchan Lorn Rhum Eig Tiree Coll Ulva Moidart Ardgour Ardtoe Acharacle Ardtornish Savary Salen Knock Fionnphort Fidden Loch Linnhe Firth of Lorn Sound of Mull Loch Aline Loch Eilt Loch Ailort Loch Shiel Loch Sunart Great Glen Iona

Walter Jardine

Somerled

Maps

About Somerled and Medieval Scotland

Walter Jardine

Somerled

Maps