Fearchair Fada II (DNB00)

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FEARCHAIR FADA (the Long) or FERCHARDUS II (d. 697) was the fifty-fourth king of Scottish Dalriada, according to the fictitious chronology of Boece and Buchanan, but the twelfth reckoning from Fergus the son of Earc, according to the rectified list of Father Innes. Buchanan has given a dark but imaginary portrait of this king, whom he represents as given up to every vice, closing his account with declaring that ‘Scotland groaned under this monster eighteen years.’ We really know very little of him, though there seems no doubt he was an historical character. Mr. Skene's conjectural reconstruction of this period is that the kingdom of Dalriada fell into anarchy after the death of Donald Breac, 643, and was subject to the Britons, who killed that king at Strathcarron, West Lothian, but that both Britons and Scots were under subjection to the Northumbrian Angles. He further supposes that during this anarchy Fearchair Fada, the head of the clan Baedan, part of the larger tribe of Cinel Eochagh, a subdivision of the Cinel Lorn, took the lead in the attempt to throw off the yoke of the Britons and Angles. He was at first defeated in 678 by the Britons, but the issue of several other battles, one perhaps on the island of Jura, is not mentioned in the scanty entries of the Irish chronicles, probably because indecisive. In 683, in conjunction with Bredei, or Brude, son of Bile, the Pictish king of Fortrenn, he took part in the siege of Dunadd, the fort in the moss of Crinan, which had been the chief strength of the Dalriads, and in the recovery of Dundurn, a fort on the east of Loch Earn, the stronghold of the men of Fortrenn. Egfrid, the king of the Northumbrian Angles, roused by these successes of the united Picts and Scots, which drove back the Anglian advance in Scotland, invaded the Pictish territory, and was slain at Nechtansmere in 685, as a result of which Bæda states: ‘The Picts recovered their territory, and the Scots in Britain and a certain part of the Britons received their liberty.’

The death of Fearchair Fada is recorded by the ‘Annals of Ulster’ in 697, and from the mention in the same annals of the violent death of descendants of Donald Breac, about the same period, Skene conjectures that there was no king of the whole of Scottish Dalriada, but rival chiefs of the tribe or clan of Lorn and Gabran, to the former of which tribe Fearchair, and to the latter Donald Breac and his descendants, representing the direct line of Fergus the son of Earc, belonged.

[Chronicles of the Picts and Scots; Skene's Celtic Scotland.]

Æ. M.