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|The Celtic Kings of the Ninth Century
With the constant fighting, the kingdom had been nearly destroyed by the Vikings, but the Picts and Gaels, faced with the prospect of Viking conquest, had drawn together against a common enemy. In 902 A.D. the Vikings returned to seize Dunkeld, where St Columba’s relics were kept, along with the rich arable farmlands around the River Tay. King Constantine met with Ivar (the Norwegian Leader) at Strathcarron in 904 AD, and following a bitter struggle the Viking army were routed.
Following the defeat of the Vikings, regeneration of the kingdom, following the viking destruction, was Constantine’s top priority. The Church was remodelled along Gaelic lines and he brought in a system of mormaers (earls or great stewards) to defend the kingdom more efficiently. He also renamed the territory, Alba, which is actually means Britain in Gaelic and the Scottish nation had finally arrived.
Constantine continued to extend Alba’s influence across Scotland. The east coast, south of the river Forth and modern-day Edinburgh, was Angle territory, until 918 AD, when Constantine led his army into Northumbria. At the Battle of Corbridge, he forced Ragnall, the Viking King of York, to withdraw from the Angle earldom of Northumbria that stretched from Lothian to the Tyne. In return the restored earl, Eadred, recognised Constantine as his overlord. For the first time much of the land in modern-day Scotland was either under the direct kingship of the King of Alba or was under his rule as overlord.
Life wasn't easy for any of the Alban Kings at this time with rule often being for short(relatively) periods of time. However, the persistence of the Kings of this time preserved the greater part of their kingdoms whilst many others fell or vanished. At least three of the Alban kings died fighting the Vikings, one was killed fighting the Britons and others fell from internal civil war.
In A.D. 926, Athelstan, King of Wessex and Mercia, took over Northumbria and in A.D. 934 he invaded the Scots both overland and from the sea. By 937 (the year of Constantine's abdication) the Scots, Britons and Norsemen retaliated with a landing on the Solway coast. Athelstan, supported by other Norse settlers, won the resulting battle at Brunanburh. The defeated Scots King (Constantine) then retired to a monastery in St Andrews and was succeeded by his nephew, Malcolm I.
In 945 Malcolm negotiated the possession of Cumberland from Eadmund of England in return for collaboration. Other gains were made at this time, which expanded the Scots territory. During the reign of Indulf, attempts were made to regain Northumbria and Lothian was probably annexed near or around this time. Some years later, Lothian was formally ceded to Kenneth II.
It was not all good news however, as territory was gained in the South, losses were made in the North. The Norsemen were expanding their territory and Norway formally governed as far down as Moray.
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