is a narrow peninsula in the far West of Scotland, which extends
a distance of approximately 30 miles, from Tarbert in the North
to the Mull of Kintyre in the South. Along the middle or spine
of Kintyre, runs a line of hills which rise to a maximum height
of approximately 2000 feet. Along the West coast runs a narrow
fertile strip of land which is exposed to the frequent Atlantic
gales. The Eastern coast is more fertile, being protected as it
is by the line of hills. Prior to modern roads being constructed,
Kintyre remained relatively isolated from the rest of Scotland,
access being gained from the sea. As late as the 1960's it was
common to travel from the central belt of Scotland (Glasgow) to
Campbeltown by paddle steamer.
is known of the early inhabitants of Kintyre, other than they
were of the Pictish race. The early documented history of Kintyre
is firmly linked to the kingdom of Dalriata (the Scots). Dal Riata
was the name of the people who came to Kintyre and the far West
of Scotland from Ireland. About AD250 in Ireland, there existed
four main families of the Erainn stock, who were considered the
original inhabitants of Eire. One of these families was the Dal
Riata. About AD253 one of the Dal Riata chieftains Caipre Riata
(also known as Cairbre Reudh or Red Haired Cairbar) emigrated
with his people to South Kintyre from Ulster. The same people
were referred to as the Scotti or Atascotti by the Roman scholar
Ammianus Marcellinus, author of the Notitia Imperii, writing in
the 4th Century. These were the original Scots peoples making
their initial forays from Ireland to Scotland. The Dalriata established
a colony for some 200 years before, in AD446, being driven back
to Ireland during conflicts with Pictish tribes.
portion of early text refers to the area around Campbeltown as
Dal-ruaidh, which it translates as the portion of Ruadh and the
people as the Dalruaidhini, which was shortened or corrupted by
Latin writers to Dalriad and the people as Dalreudini. There appears
to be some consistency in these names as even today an area and
street in Campbeltown are known as Dalaruan.
AD503, the Dal Riata returned in force under the conduct of the
three sons of Erc; Lorn, Angus and Fergus, who became the founders
of the second kingdom of the Scots or as they were referred to,
the Dal Riata. At that time the three sons must have been advanced
in age for they all received the benediction of St. Patrick, who
died in AD446. Of these sons of Erc, Angus seems to have died
soon after his arrival, for we here no more of him. In the division
of the country, the island of Islay probably fell to his share
as, after his death we find it possessed by his son Murdach, whose
wife Erca after Murdach's death married his cousin German to whom
she bore Felim the father of St. Columba.
the mainland Lorn took the northern portion while Fergus took
Kintyre and Argyll. Lorn died a short time later and Fergus added
his brothers territory to his own, becoming sole monarch of Dalriata.
Fergus mor mac Erc has stood ever since at the beginning of the
lists of Kings of Scots.
died in AD506, and when he died the kingship was passed on to
his son Domangart. From there the kingship was passed on to Domangart's
two sons, firstly Comgall, who like his father appears to have
ruled during peaceful times. Gabran took up the kingship after
Comgall and his reign seems to have been fraught with battles
with the Picts. By this time there were four distinct sections
of the Dal Riata. The Cenel Gabrain, whose leaders were most frequently
the kings of Dal Riata, coming from the royal line of Fergus mor
Mac Erc; the Cenel Loairn (Lorn), the Cenel nOengusa (Angus) and
the Cenel Comgall.
four main peoples now occupied all of Argyll, Kintyre and the
Inner Hebrides. After Gabran the kingship went to his nephew Conall.
It is Conall who is reputed to have given Colum Cille (St. Columba)
the island of Iona, in agreement with the king of the Picts.
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