Donald IV (DNB00)

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DONALD IV, Breac (the Speckled or Freckled) (d. 643), a Celtic king of Scottish Dalriada, the fifty-third according to the fictitious list followed by Buchanan, but, according to the rectified chronology of Father Innes and Mr. Skene, the tenth or eleventh king counting from Fergus Mor Mac Eare, the real founder of the Dalriad monarchy, was son of Eochadh Buidhe (the Yellow), who was son of Aidan, son of Gabhran, the king ordained by St. Columba.

On the death of Kenneth Kerr, an elder son of Eochadh Buidhe, in 629 he was succeeded by his brother, Donald Breac (though some of the lists of kings interpolate a king, Fearchan, and Buchanan two kings, Eugenius IV and Fearchar II, between the two brothers). In 634 (?) Donald was defeated at Calathros (Callendar?) by the Angles of Bernicia, whose rule then extended to the Firth and whose kings were attempting to push their boundaries further north. In 637 he took part in the battle, called by Adamnan Rath (Mag Rath = Moira in Ireland), having taken the side of Congall Claen, king of the Cruthnigh (Picts) of Dalriada, against Donald, son of Aed of the Hy Nial, king of Ireland, contrary to the convention of Drumceat, by which the Scottish Dalriads were to support the king of Ireland in his expeditions. In 638 another battle was fought against the Angles at Glenmairison (Glenmuiriston), near the Pentlands, in which the men of Donald Breac were again defeated and Etin (Edinburgh? or Carriden near Boness) was besieged. Four years later (642) Donald Breac was himself slain in a battle in Strathcarron in West Lothian, by Owen (Hoan), king of the Strathclyde Britons. Adamnan (Life of Columba III, ch. 5) attributes this defeat to Donald having taken part in the Irish war against his kin the Scots in favour of the Picts, and, seeing in the defeat the fulfilment of a prophecy of Columba, adds ‘from that day to this (690–700) they (i.e. the Scottish Dalriads) have been trodden down by strangers,’ meaning probably the Strathclyde Britons. Such is the account of this king by Skene (Celtic Scotland, i. 247–50), which substantially agrees with Pinkerton (Enquiry into the History of Scotland prior to Malcolm III, ii. 118–20), and Reeves (Notes to Adamnan's Life of Columba), but it is to a large extent conjectural. In these writers the older authorities will be found.

It seems reasonably certain, however, that this king was contemporary with Edwin (617–33) and Oswald of Northumbria (633–642), in whose reign Aidan, a monk of Iona, became bishop of Lindisfarne, having been called thither by Oswald, who had spent his youth in exile at Iona during the reign of Edwin. Donald Breac must have been a powerful monarch to have pushed the arms of Dalriada so far east as the Lothians and engaged also in Irish wars in the middle of the seventh century.

[Chronicles of the Picts and Scots; Skene's Celtic Scotland, vol. i.; Reeves's Adamnan; see note on Origines Dalriadicae.]

Æ. M.