were alternately under Pictish, Norse, and Saxon (Northumbrian) rule ; while Lothian, though nominally part of the realm of Northumbria, was really the prey of rival Saxon chiefs. The Norse jarls of Orkney maintained independent sway in Caithness and the Sudreys or Western Isles, and in parts of Galloway, till after the death of Earl Sigurd at the battle of Clontarf near Dublin, in 1014. Even then the Scottish realm could not be reckoned as extending south of the Forth or north of the Spey.
But in 1054 an important advance was made towards consolidation. Malcolm Canmore, son of Duncan slain by Macbeth, was then rightful King of Scotia. His uncle, Siward, Danish Earl of Northumbria, espoused his cause against the usurper Macbeth, and invaded Scotia. Failing in his intention to dethrone Macbeth, who was supported by Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, he succeeded in wresting from him Cumbria and the Lothians, and established Malcolm as King of Cumbria. Three years later, Malcolm attacked Macbeth, drove him across the Mounth, and slew him at Lumphannan, August 15, 1057.
This was probably the year of powerful Earl Thorfinn's death and the consequent severance of the nine earldoms held in subjection by him. It was then, only three years before the Norman conquest of England, that Scotland first presented the semblance of an united and independent kingdom, though even at that time the Celtic, Saxon, and Norse elements in the population were too distinct, and too sharply defined in locality, to offer much