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The Highland Clans

In Kintyre and the adjoining neighbourhood the Invaders established the little Dalriadic kingdom, so called from their place of origin in the north-east of Ireland, Dal-Riada, the "Portion of Riada," conquered in the third century by Fergusís ancestor, Cairbre-Riada, brother of Cormac, an Irish King. They had their first capital at Dun-add near the present Crinan Canal(The Crinan Canal near Lochgilphead is both an engineering marvel and an idyllic part of Argyll & Bute. This part of the west coast has a wonderfully tranquil quality and the scenery provides a perfect backcloth to the day to day activity on the canal. The Canal was completed in 1801, it has 15 locks and stretches for 9 miles between the villages of Crinan and Ardrishaig The Crinan Canal is not to be missed whilst visiting Scotland and it is an absolute must for a day out if you find yourself visiting Argyll & Bute ), and from their possession the district about Loch Awe took the name of Oire-Gaidheal, or Argyll, the "Land of the Gael."

These settlers were Christian, and the name of their patron saint, Kiaran, remains in Kilkiaran, the old name of Campbeltown, Kilkiaran in Islay, Kilkiaran in Lismore, and Kilkerran in Carrick, which last, curiously enough, is a possession of the Fergusons at the present hour. The invasion, however, received one of its strongest impulses from a later missionary. Columba crossed from Ireland and settled in Iona in the year 563, and very soon, with his followers, began a great campaign of Christian conversion among the Northern Picts. The Picts and early Britons, as is shown by their monuments and the folk-customs they have handed down to us, were worshippers of Baal and Ashtaroth. Columbaís conversion of Brud, king of the Northern Picts at his stronghold at Inverness, opened up the whole country to the Gaelic influence. By and by marriages took place between the Pictish and the Gaelic royal houses, and these led, in the ninth century, to disputes over the succession to the Pictish crown. In the struggle which followed, Alpin, king of the Scots, was beheaded by the Picts on Dundee Law, in sight of his own host. But the whole matter was finally decided by the victory of Alpinís son, Kenneth II., over the last Pictish army, in the year 838, at the spot called Cambuskenneth after the event, on the bank of the Forth near Stirling. Six years later Kenneth succeeded to the Pictish throne.

The history of these early centuries is to be gathered from Adamnanís Life of Columba, the Annals of Tighernac, the Annals of Ulster, the Albanach Duan, Bedeís Chronicle, and other works.

By that time another warlike race had made its appearance on the western coasts. At their first coming, the Dalriads or Scots from Ireland had been known as GallgaelóGaelic strangers. The new piratical visitors who now appeared from the eastern shores of the North Sea, received the name of Fion-gall or "fair-haired strangers." Worshippers of Woden and Thor, they proved at first fierce and bitter enemies to the Christian Picts and Gaels, slaying the monks of Iona on their own altar, and even penetrating so far as to burn Dunbarton, the capital of the Britons of Strathclyde, in the year 780. In the face of this menace, Kenneth, in the year of his victory over the Picts, removed the Lia Fail from his own stronghold of Dunstaffnage on Loch Etive, to Scone on the Tay, transferred the bones of Columba from Iona to Dunkeld, and fixed his own royal seat at the ancient capital of the Southern Picts, Forteviot on the Earn. This remained the capital of the Scoto-Pictish kings for two centuries, till in 1057 Malcolm Canmore, son of the "gracious" Duncan and the millerís daughter of Forteviot, overthrew Macbeth, and set up the capital of his new dynasty at Dunfermline.