List of kings of the Picts

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The list of kings of the Picts is based on the Pictish Chronicle king lists. These are late documents and do not record the dates when the kings reigned. The various surviving lists disagree in places as to the names of kings, and the lengths of their reigns. A large portion of the lists, not reproduced here, belongs with the Caledonian or Irish mythology. The latter parts of the lists can largely be reconciled with other sources.

Text reading Rex Pictorum in MS Rawlinson B 489 (Annals of Ulster).

Pictish kings


Pictish kings ruled in northern and eastern Scotland. In 843 tradition records the replacement of the Pictish kingdom by the Kingdom of Alba, although the Irish annals continue to use Picts and Fortriu for half a century after 843. The king lists are thought to have been compiled in the early 8th century, probably by 724, placing them in the reigns of the sons of Der-Ilei, Bridei and Nechtan.[1]

Irish annals (the Annals of Ulster, Annals of Innisfallen) refer to some kings as king of Fortriu or king of Alba. The kings listed are thought to represent overkings of the Picts, at least from the time of Bridei son of Maelchon onwards. In addition to these overkings, many less powerful subject kings existed, of whom only a very few are known from the historical record.

Mythical kings of the Picts are listed in the Lebor Bretnach's account of the origins of the Cruithne. The list begins with Cruithne son of Cing, who is reported to be "father of the Picts". The account of the Pictish Chronicle then splits into four lists of names:

  • The first is a list of the sons of Cruithne.
  • The second is a list of early kings with no distinguishing information other than dates.
  • The third is another list of early kings with neither stories nor dates, all of whom have two names that begin with "Brude". It is possible that "Brude" is an ancient title for "king" from another source, which was misinterpreted as a name by the compiler (cf. Skene
  • The fourth is a list of later kings. The first of these to be attested in an independent source is Galam Cennalath.

The dates given here are drawn from early sources, unless specifically noted otherwise. The relationships between kings are less than certain and rely on modern readings of the sources.



Orthography is problematic. Cinioch, Ciniod and Cináed all represent ancestors of the modern Anglicised name Kenneth. Pictish "uu", sometimes printed as "w", corresponds with Gaelic "f", so that Uuredach is the Gaelic Feredach and Uurguist the Gaelic Fergus, or perhaps Forgus. As the Dupplin Cross inscription shows, the idea that Irish sources Gaelicised Pictish names may not be entirely accurate.

Kings of the Picts


Colouring indicates groups of kings presumed to be related.

Early kings

Reign Ruler Other names[2] Family Remarks
311-341 Vipoig Reigned 30 years
341–345 Canutulachama[3] Reigned 4 years
345–347 Uradech Reigned 2 years
347–387 Gartnait II Reigned 40 years
387–412 Talorc mac Achiuir Reigned 25 years
412–452 Drest I Drest son of Erp First king of the Pictish Chronicle lists whose reign includes a synchronism (the coming of Saint Patrick to Ireland; "ruled a hundred years and fought a hundred battles"
452–456 Talorc I Talorc son of Aniel An entry in the king lists; reigned 2 or 4 years
456–480 Nechtan I Nechtan son of Uuirp (or Erip), Nechtan the Great, Nechtan Celcamoth Possibly a brother of Drest son of Erp The foundation of the monastery at Abernethy is fathered on this king, almost certainly spuriously. A similar name nehhtton(s) was found on the Lunnasting stone; one interpretator of which suggested it containing the phrase "the vassal of Nehtonn"
480–510 Drest II Drest Gurthinmoch (or Gocinecht) An entry in the king lists; reigned 30 years
510–522 Galan Galan Erilich or Galany An entry in the king lists
522–530 Drest III Drest son of Uudrost (or Hudrossig)
522–531 Drest IV Drest son of Girom (or Gurum) An entry in the king lists
531–537 Gartnait I Garthnac son of Girom, Ganat son of Gigurum
537–538 Cailtram Cailtram son of Girom, Kelturan son of Gigurum Brother of the preceding Gartnait
538–549 Talorc II Talorc son of Murtolic, Tolorg son of Mordeleg An entry in the king lists
549–550 Drest V Drest son of Manath, Drest son of Munait

Early historical kings


The first king who appears in multiple early sources is Bridei son of Maelchon, and kings from the later 6th century onwards may be considered historical as their deaths are generally reported in Irish sources.

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
550–555 Galam Galam Cennalath The death of "Cennalaph, king of the Picts" is recorded, may have ruled jointly with Bridei son of Maelchon
554–584 Bridei I Bridei son of Maelchon
Brude son of Melcho
His death and other activities are recorded, he is named in Adomnán's Life of Saint Columba; the first Pictish king to be more than a name in a list
584–595 Gartnait II Gartnait son of Domelch,[4] Gernard son of Dompneth
595–616 Nechtan II Nechtan grandson of Uerb[5]
Nechtan son of Cano[6]
His reign is placed in the time of Pope Boniface IV
616–631 Cinioch Cinioch son of Lutrin
Kinet son of Luthren
631–635 Gartnait III Gartnait son of Uuid[7] son of Gwid son of Peithan?
635–641 Bridei II Bridei son of Uuid or son of Fochle
641–653 Talorc III Talorc son of Uuid or son of Foth
653–657 Talorgan I Talorgan son of Eanfrith son of Eanfrith of Bernicia
657–663 Gartnait IV Gartnait son of Donnel or son of Dúngal
663–672 Drest VI

Later historical kings

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
672–693 Bridei III Bridei son of Bili Son of Beli I of Alt Clut son of Nechtan II At war with the Scots in 683. Defeated Ecgfrith of Northumbria at the Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685.
693–697 Taran Taran son of Ainftech Possibly a uterine half-brother of Bridei and Nechtan mac Der-Ilei
697–706 Bridei IV Bridei son of Der-Ilei Brother of Nechtan, Cenél Comgaill Son of Der-Ilei, a Pictish princess, and Dargart mac Finnguine, a member of the Cenél Comgaill of Dál Riata; listed as a guarantor of the Cáin Adomnáin
706–724 Nechtan III Nechtan son of Der-Ilei Brother of Bridei, Cenél Comgaill Adopted the Roman dating of Easter c. 712, a noted founder of churches and monasteries
724–726 Drest VII Drust Perhaps son of a half-brother of Nechtan and Bridei. Possibly of Cenél nGabráin of Atholl ['New Ireland'] (T.O. Clancy, 2004) Succeeded Nechtan, imprisoned him in 726, may have been deposed that year by Alpín
726–728 Alpín I Alpin mac Echach Possibly of Cenél nGabráin (M.O. Anderson, 1973) Probably a co-ruler with Drest. Also King of Dal Riata, AT726.4 "Dungal was removed from rule, and Drust of the rule of the Picts removed, and Elphin reigns for them."
728–729 Nechtan III
Nechtan son of Der-Ilei, second reign Cenél Comgaill It has been suggests that Óengus defeated the enemy of Nechtan in 729, and Nechtan continued to rule until 732.
729–761 Óengus I Onuist son of Vurguist Claimed as a kinsman by the Eóganachta
736–750 Talorcan II Talorcan son of Fergus Brother of Óengus Killed in battle against the Britons of Alt Clut
761–763 Bridei V Bridei son of Fergus Brother of Onuist King of Fortriu
763–775 Ciniod I Ciniod son of Uuredach, Cinadhon Sometimes thought to be a grandson of Selbach mac Ferchair and hence of Cenél Loairn Granted asylum to the deposed King Alhred of Northumbria
775–778 Alpín II Alpin son of Uuroid Death reported as Eilpín, king of the Saxons but this is taken to be an error
778–782 Talorc II Talorc son of Drest Death reported in the Ulster Annals
782–783 Drest VIII Drest son of Talorgan Son of the preceding Talorgan or of Talorgan, brother of Óengus
783–785 Talorc III Talorgan son of Onuist, also Dub Tholarg Son of Óengus
785–789 Conall Conall son of Tarla (or of Tadg) Perhaps rather a king in Dál Riata
789–820 Caustantín Caustantín son of Fergus[8] A grandson or grandnephew of Onuist or perhaps a son of Fergus mac Echdach[9] His son Domnall may have been king of Dál Riata
820–834 Óengus II Óengus son of Fergus Brother of Caustantín
834–837 Drest IX Drest son of Caustantín Son of Caustantín
834–837 Talorc IV Talorcan son of Wthoil
837–839 Eógan Eógan son of Óengus Son of Óengus, his brothers were Nechtan and Finguine. Killed in 839 with his brother Bran in battle against the Vikings; this led to a decade of conflict

Kings of the Picts 839–848 (not successively)


The deaths of Eógan and Bran appear to have led to a large number of competitors for the throne of Pictland.

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
839–842 Uurad Uurad son of Bargoit Unknown Said to have reigned for three years, probably named on the Drosten Stone
842–843 Bridei VI Bridei son of Uurad Possibly the son of the previous king Said to have reigned one year
843 Ciniod II Kenneth son of Ferath Possibly the brother of the previous king Said to have reigned one year in some lists
843–845 Bridei VII Brudei son of Uuthoi Unknown Said to have reigned two years in some lists
845–848 Drest X Drest son of Uurad As previous sons of Uurad Said to have reigned three years in some lists; the myth of MacAlpin's treason calls the Pictish king Drest
13 February 858
Cináed Ciniod son of Elphin,
Cináed mac Ailpín,
Kenneth MacAlpin
Unknown, but his descendants made him a member of the Cenél nGabráin of Dál Riata

Kings of the Picts traditionally counted as King of Scots


Cináed mac Ailpín (Kenneth MacAlpin in English) defeated the rival kings, winning out by around 845–848. He is traditionally considered the first "King of Scots", or of "Picts and Scots", allegedly having conquered the Picts as a Gael, which is turning history back to front. As most modern scholars point out, he was actually 'King of Picts', and the terms 'King of Alba' and the even later 'King of Scots' were not used until several generations after him.[citation needed]

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
Died 13 February 858 Cináed Ciniod son of Elphin
Cináed mac Ailpín
Coinneach mac Ailpein
Kenneth MacAlpin
Kenneth I
Unknown, but his descendants made him a member of the Cenél nGabráin of Dál Riata
Died 862 Domnall Domnall mac Ailpín
Dòmhnall mac Ailpein
Donald MacAlpin
Donald I
Brother of Cináed
Died 877 Causantín Causantín mac Cináeda
Còiseam mac Choinnich
Constantín mac Cináeda
Constantine I
Son of Cináed
Died 878 Áed Áed mac Cináeda
Aodh mac Choinnich
Deposed 889 ? Eochaid Son of Rhun ap Arthgal, and maternal grandson of Cináed Associated with Giric. Could have shared kingship with Giric, either as an equal partner or adversary. Could have also reigned as King of Strathclyde
Deposed 889 ? Giric Giric mac Dúngail
Griogair mac Dhunghail
"Mac Rath" ("Son of Fortune")
Cináed's daughter's son ? Associated with Eochaid
Died 900 Domnall Domnall mac Causantín
Dòmhnall mac Chòiseim
Donald II
"Dásachtach" ("The Madman")
Son of Causantín mac Cináeda Last to be called "king of the Picts"

King of Alba

Reign Ruler Other names Family Remarks
Abdicated 943, died 952 Causantín Causantín mac Áeda
Còiseam mac Aoidh
Constantine II
Son of Áed mac Cináeda First king of Alba, the kingdom that later became known as "Scotland".

See also


Further reading

  • James E. Fraser, The New Edinburgh History of Scotland Vol. 1From Caledonia to Pictland, Edinburgh University Press (2009) ISBN 978-0-7486-1232-1
  • Alex Woolf, The New Edinburgh History of Scotland Vol. 2From Pictland to Alba, Edinburgh University Press, (2007) ISBN 978-0-7486-1234-5


  1. ^ Woolf, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered", p. 153.
  2. ^ Other names are only given where they differ significantly. See also Names above
  3. ^ Salway, Peter. "Kings of Pictland (Caledonia)". 2014. The History Files. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  4. ^ Bannerman, pp. 92–94, identifies this Gartnait with Gartnait son of Áedán mac Gabráin, founder of the "genus Gartnait" of Skye.
  5. ^ Woolf, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered, pp. 160–161, suggests has been suggested that "grandson of Uerb" should be read son of Uerb. Alternatively, it has been suggested that Uerb may represent a legendary apical ancestor such as the Fer map Con in the ancestry of Run map Artgal in the Harleian genealogies. The sons of Uuid are presumed to be related.
  6. ^ For the identification as a son of Cano, grandson of Áedán mac Gabráin, see Bannerman, pp. 92–93.
  7. ^ Another list names Nechtan son of Fochle.
  8. ^ Previously thought to have been an Irish gaelicisation, now known to be an authentic form of his name found on the Dupplin Cross.
  9. ^ Grandson or grandnephew of Onuist per Broun, "Pictish kings", son of Fergus mac Echdach in older works.



For primary sources, see External links below

  • Adomnán, Life of St Columba, tr. & ed. Richard Sharpe. Penguin, London, 1995. ISBN 0-14-044462-9
  • Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History A.D. 500–1286, vol. 1. Reprinted with corrections. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
  • Bannerman, John, Studies in the History of Dalriada. Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, 1974. ISBN 0-7011-2040-1
  • Bannerman, John. "The Scottish Takeover of Pictland and the relics of Columba" in Dauvit Broun and Thomas Owen Clancy (eds.) Spes Scotorum: Saint Columba, Iona and Scotland. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1999 ISBN 0-567-08682-8
  • Broun, Dauvit, "Dunkeld and the origin of Scottish identity" in Broun & Clancy (1999).
  • Broun, Dauvit, "Pictish Kings 761–839: Integration with Dál Riata or Separate Development" in Sally M. Foster (ed.), The St Andrews Sarcophagus: A Pictish masterpiece and its international connections. Four Courts, Dublin, 1998. ISBN 1-85182-414-6
  • Clancy, Thomas Owen, "Caustantín son of Fergus (Uurgust)" in M. Lynch (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Scottish History. Oxford & New York: Oxford UP, 2002. ISBN 0-19-211696-7
  • Herbert, Máire, "Ri Éirenn, Ri Alban: kingship and identity in the ninth and tenth centuries" in Simon Taylor (ed.), Kings, clerics and chronicles in Scotland 500–1297. Four Courts, Dublin, 2000. ISBN 1-85182-516-9
  • Skene, William F. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots, and other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867.
  • Smyth, Alfred P. Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000. Reprinted, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1998. ISBN 0-7486-0100-7
  • Woolf, Alex, "Pictish matriliny reconsidered" in The Innes Review, Volume XLIV, Number 2 (Autumn 1998). ISSN 0020-157X
  • Woolf, Alex, "Ungus (Onuist), son of Uurgust" in M. Lynch (2002).