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That in the Hebrides a mixture of the Celtic and Scandinavian blood was thus effected at an early period seems highly probable, and by no means inconsistent with the ultimate prevalence of the Celtic language in the mixed race, as all history sufficiently demonstrates.

These remarks regarding the population of the Isles apply equally to that of the adjacent mainland districts, which, being so accessible by numerous arms of the sea, could hardly be expected to preserve the blood of their inhabitants unmixed. The extent to which this mixture was carried is a more difficult question, and one which must be left in a great measure to conjecture; but, on the whole, the Celtic race appears to have predominated. It is of more importance to know which of the Scandinavian tribes it was that infused the greatest portion of northern blood into the population of the Isles.

The Irish annalists divide the piratical bands, which, in the ninth and following centuries infested Ireland, into two great tribes, styled by these writers Fiongall, or white foreigners, and Dubhgall, or black foreigners. These are believed to represent, the former the Norwegians, the latter the Danes; and the distinction in the names is supposed to have arisen from a diversity, either in their clothing or in the sails of their vessels.

These tribes had generally seperate leaders; but they were occasionally united under one king; and although both bent first on ravaging the Irish shores, and afterwards on seizing portions of the Irish territories, they frequently turned their arms against each other. The Gaelic title of Righ Fhiongall, or King of the Fiongall, so frequently applied to the Lords of the Isles, seem to prove that Olave the Red, from whom they were descended in the female line, was so styled, and that, consequently, his subjects in the Isles, in so far as they were not Celtic, were Fiongall or Norwegians.

It has been remarked by one writer, whose opinion is entitled to weight, that the names of places in the exterior Hebrides, or the Long Island, derived from the Scandinavian tongue, resemble the names of places in Orkney, Shetland, and Caithness. On the other hand, the corresponding names in the interior Hebrides are in a different dialect, resembling that of which the traces are to be found in the topography of Sutherland; and appear to have been imposed at a later period than the first mentioned names.

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The probability is, however, that the difference alluded to is not greater than might be expected in the language of two branches of the same race, after a certain interval; and that the Scandinavian population of the Hebrides was, therefore, derived from two successive Norwegian colonies. This view is further confirmed by the fact that the Hebrides, although long subject to Norway, do not appear to have ever formed part of the possessions of the Danes. As by far the most important, and at one time most extensive and poweful, of these western clans, is that of the Macdonalds, and as this, as well as many other clans, according to some authorities, can clearly trace their ancestry back to Somerled, the progenitor of the once powerful Lords of the Isles, it may not be out of place to give here a short summary of the history of these magnates.

The origin of Somerled, the undoubted founder of the noble race of the Island Lords, is, according to Mr Gregory, involved in considerable obscurity. Assuming that the clan governed by Somerled formed part of the great tribe of Gallgael, it follows that the independant kings of the latter must in all probability have been his ancestors, and should therefore be found in the old genealogies of his family.

But this scarcely appears to be the case. The last king of the Gallgael, was Suibne, the son of Kenneth, who died in the year ; and according to the manuscript of , an ancestor of Somerled, contemporary with this petty monarch, bore the same name, from which it may be presumed that the person referred to in the genealogy and the manuscript is one and the same individual.

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The latter, however, calls Suibne's father Nialgusa; and in the genealogy there is no mention whatever of a Kenneth. But from the old Scottish writers we learn that at this time there was a Kenneth, whom they called Thane of the Isles, and that one of the northern mormaors also bore the same name, although it is not very easy to say what precise claim either had to be considered as the father of Suibne.

There is also a further discrepancy observable in the earlier part of the Macdonald genealogies, as compared with the manuscript; and besides, the latter, without making any mention of these supposed kings, deviates into the misty region of Irish heroic fable and romance. At this point, indeed, there is a complete divergance, if not contrariety, between the history as contained in the Irish Annals, and the genealogy developed in the manuscript; for, whilst the latter mentions the Gallgael under their leaders as far back as the year , the former connect Suibne, by a different genealogy, with the kings of Ireland.

The fables of the Highland and Irish Sennachies now become connected with the genuine history. The real descent of the chiefs was obscured or perplexed by the Irish Genealogies, and previously to the eleventh century neither these genealogies nor even that of the manuscript of can be considered as of any authority whatsoever. It seems somewhat rash, however, to conclude, as Mr Skene has done, that the Siol-Cuinn, or descendants of Conn, were of native origin. This exceeds the warrant of the premises, which merely carry the difficulty a few removes backwards into the obscurity of time, and there leave the question in greater darkness than ever.

From the death of Suibne till the accession of Gillebride Mac Gille Adomnan, the father of Somerled, nothing whatever is known of the history of the clan. The latter, having been expelled from his possessions by the Lochlans and the Fingalls, took refuge in Ireland, where he persuaded the descendants of Colla to espouse his quarrel and assist him in an attempt to recover his possessions.

Accordingly, four or five hundred persons put themselves under his command, and at their head he returned to Alban, where he effected a landing; but the expedition, it would seem, proved unsuccessful. Somerled, the son of Gillebride, was, however, a man of a very different stamp. At first he lived retired, musing in solitude upon the ruined fortunes of his house.

But when the time came for action arrived, he boldly put himself at the head of the inhabitants of Morven; attacked the Norwegians, whom, after considerable struggle, he expelled; made himself master of the whole of Morven, Lochaber, and northern Argyle; and not long afterwards added to his other possessions the southern districts of that country. In the year , when David I expelled the Norwegians from Man, Arran, and Bute, Somerled appears to have obtained a grant of those Islands from the king.

Kingdom of the Isles

But finding himself still unable to contend with the Norwegians of the Isles, whose power remained unbroken, he resolved to recover by policy what he despaired of acquiring by force of arms; and, with this view, he succeeded in obtaining about the hand of Ragnhildis, the daughter of Olaf, surnamed the Red, who was then the Norwegian king of the Isles. This lady brought him three sons, namely Dugall, Reginald, and Angus; and by a previous marriage, he had one named Gillecallum. The prosperous fortunes of Somerled at length inflamed his ambition. He had already attained to great power in the Highlands, and success inspired him with the desire of extending it.

His grandsons having formerly claimed the earldom of Moray, their pretensions were now renewed, and this was followed by an attempt to put them in actual possession of their alleged inheritance. Though the Lordship was taken away from the MacDonald family in the 15th century, waves of successive MacDonald leaders have contested this and fought for its revival ever since, notably during Dubh's Rebellion. The office itself has been extinct since the 15th century and the style since then has no other meaning but to recall the Scottish seizure of the ancient Norse-Gaelic lordship and crown.

kingdom of the Isles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the Scottish title of nobility. For other uses, see Lord of the Isles disambiguation. Arms of Prince Charles, as used in Scotland. The galley in the 2nd and 3rd quarters represents the Lordship of the Isles.


This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. August Learn how and when to remove this template message. Finlaggan Trust. Retrieved 1 May Lords of the Isles.

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Scotland in the Middle Ages. Court Law Parliament Privy Council. History of the British Isles. Imperial, royal, and noble styles.

Manners of address for popes, royalty, and nobility. They created a stronghold, Dunyvaig Castle, on the eastern side of Lagavulin Bay on a coastal promontory to control the coasts of Kintyre and Antrim. The site for the stronghold was on top of remains from a fortification which dates back to earlier times. The land of Angus was later given to Donald, the son of Ranald, and to Dougall.

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Later in the isles were held by Alexander III, King of Scots whereas the former vassals of the king of Norway were left in possession of the isles. But in during the civil war, the MacDougalls sided with the English in opposing Bruce which however turned out to be the loosing side and thus the Clan Donald, by supporting Bruce, came out stronger than before. Later Robert I destroyed the MacDougalls and granted much of their territory to the MacDonalds which gave them a strong position in the years to come.