Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Donald V

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DONALD V, Macalpin (d. 864), was king of Alban, the united kingdom of the Scots and Picts, whose centre was Scone, near Perth. His brother, Kenneth Macalpin, united the Scottish Dalriad monarchy of Argyll and the Isles, whose chief fort was Dunstaffnage, near Oban, or Dunadd on the Crinan moors, with the Pictish monarchy of northern and central Scotland, and Scone became the chief fort of this kingdom in the middle of the ninth century (844). Kenneth is called in Scottish chronicles a Scot, but in the Irish annals king of the Picts, as are also several of his successors. Alpin is supposed to have been a Pictish king who married a Scottish princess, and his maternal descent may account (as the old Pictish law deemed descent by the mother the test of legitimacy) for his successors tracing their lineage from the Scots and not from the Picts. The Picts are said to have been ‘almost extirpated by Kenneth,’ but the succession may have been more peaceful than the expression would indicate. Certain it is that the Pictish dialect did not radically differ from the Scottish. Still its supersession by the latter and the almost complete disappearance of Pictish names in subsequent Scottish history has not been satisfactorily accounted for.

Kenneth, a warlike monarch, had invaded Saxony, i.e. the Lothians, six times, burnt Dunbar, and seized Melrose. He removed some of Columba's relics to Dunkeld, and dying at Forteviot was buried at Iona. Donald, also a son of Alpin, and called in the ‘Annals of Ulster’ king of the Picts, succeeded, and reigned four years, or, according to another account, three years and three months. This was too short a period for many events, and although his reign has been amplified by Fordun, Boece, and Buchanan, the only fact handed down by the older annalists and certainly authentic is that along with his people the Gaels he established the rights and laws of Aedh, the son of Echdach, at Forteviot. ‘In hujus tempore jura ac leges Edi filii Echdach fecerunt Gvedeli cum rege suo in Fothur-tha-baichte, i.e. Forteviot’ (Skene, Chronicle of Picts and Scots, p. 8). These were the laws of Aedh, a Dalriad king of the eighth century, the exact contents of which are unknown, but probably included the custom of tanistry, the succession to the crown by the eldest and worthiest of the royal blood, perhaps also the right to exact certain dues from the Picts called Cain and Cuairt (Robertson, Scotland under her Early Kings, i. 41). Donald died in 864 at his palace of Kinn Belachoir (Pictish Chronicle) or Rath Inver Amon, or, according to another account, was killed at Scone, near which the other places named are, and was succeeded by Constantine I, son of his brother Kenneth, according to the rule of tanistry.

[Skene's Celtic Scotland, i. 322; Tract on Coronation Stone, p. 35.]

Æ. M.