Donald II of Scotland

Domnall mac Causantín (anglicised Donald II) was King of the Picts or King of Scots in the late 10th century. He was the son of Causantín mac Cináeda. Domnall is given the epithet dásachtach in some king-lists, meaning a violent madman.[1]

Domnall apparently became king on the death or deposition of Giric mac Dúngail, the date of which is not certainly known but usually placed in 889. The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba reports:

Doniualdus son of Constantini held the kingdom for 11 years (889–900). The Northmen wasted Pictland at this time. In his reign a battle occurred between Danes and Scots at Innisibsolian (unknown): the Scots had victory. He was killed at Opidum Fother (Dunottar) by the Gentiles.[2]

It is suggested that this attack on Dunottar, no small raid by a handful of pirates, may be associated with the ravaging of Scotland attributed to Harald Fairhair in the Heimskringla.[3] The Prophecy of Berchán places Domnall's death at Dunottar, but appears to attribute it to Gaels rather than Norsemen; other sources report he died at Forres.[4] Domnall's death is dated to 900 by the Annals of Ulster and the Chronicon Scotorum, where he is called king of Alba, rather that king of the Picts. He was buried on Iona.

The change from king of the Picts to king of Alba is seen as indicating a step towards the kingdom of the Scots, but historians, while divided as to when this change should be placed, do not attribute it to Domnall in view of his epithet.[5] The consensus view is that the key changes occurred in the reign of Causantín mac Áeda,[6] but the reign of Giric has also been proposed.[7]

The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba has Domnall succeeded by his cousin Causantín mac Áeda. Domnall's son Máel Coluim was later king. The Prophecy of Berchán appears to suggest that another king reigned for a short while between Domnall and Causantín, saying "half a day will he take sovereignty". Possible confirmation of this exists in the Chronicon Scotorum, where the death of "Ead, king of the Picts" in battle against the Uí Ímair is reported in 904. This, however, is thought to be an error, referring perhaps to Ædwulf , the ruler of Bernicia, whose death is reported in 913 by the other Irish annals.[8]


  1. ^ Kelly, Early Irish Law, pp. 92–93 & 308: "The dásachtach is the person with manic symptoms who is liable to behave in a violent and destructive manner." The dásachtach is not responsible for his actions. The same word is used of enraged cattle.
  2. ^ Early Sources, pp. 395–397.
  3. ^ Early Sources, p 396, note 1, ibid, p. 392, quoting St Olaf's Saga, c. 96.
  4. ^ Early Sources, pp. 395–398.
  5. ^ As ever, Smyth, pp. 217–218, disagrees.
  6. ^ Thus Broun and Woolf.
  7. ^ Duncan, pp.14–15.
  8. ^ Early Sources, p. 304, note 8; however, the Annals of Ulster, s.a. 904, report the death of Ímar uí Ímair (Ivar grandson of Ivar) in Fortriu in 904, making it possible that Ead (Áed ?) was a king, if not the High King.


  • Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History A.D 500–1286, volume 1. Reprinted with corrections. Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
  • A.A.M. Duncan, The Kingship of the Scots 842–1292: Succession and Independence. , Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-7486-1626-8
  • Dauvit Broun, "National identity: 1: early medieval and the formation of Alba" in Michael Lynch (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Scottish History. Oxford UP, Oxford, 2001. ISBN 0-19-211696-7
  • Fergus Kelly, A Guide to Early Irish Law. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1988. ISBN 0-901282-95-2
  • Alfred P. Smyth, Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000. Reprinted, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1998. ISBN 0-7486-0100-7
  • Alex Woolf, "Constantine II" in Michael Lynch (ed.) op. cit.
Preceded by:
with Eochaid ?
King of Scots
Succeeded by:
Causantín II

Monarchs of Scotland (Alba)
Traditional Kings of Picts: (Legendary Kings) | Drest of the 100 Battles | Talorc I | Nechtan I | Drest II | Galan | Drest III | Drest IV | Gartnait I | Cailtram | Talorc II | Drest V | Galam Cennalath | Bruide I | Gartnait II | Nechtan II | Cinioch | Gartnait III | Bruide II | Talorc III | Talorgan I | Gartnait IV | Drest VI | Bruide III | Taran | Bruide IV | Nechtan IV | Drest VII | Alpín I | Óengus I | Bruide V | Cináed II | Alpín II | Talorgan II | Drest VIII | Conall | Caustantín | Óengus II | Drest IX | Eogán | Ferat | Bruide VI | Cináed II | Bruide VII | Drest X
Traditional Kings of Scots: Cináed I | Domnall I | Causantín I | Áed | Eochaid | Giric | Domnall II | Causantín II | Máel Coluim I | Idulb | Dub | Cuilén | Cináed II | Amlaíb | Cináed II | Causantín III | Cináed III | Máel Coluim II | Donnchad I | Mac Bethad | Lulach | Máel Coluim III | Domnall III Bán | Donnchad II | Domnall III Bán | Edgar | Alexander I | David I | Máel Coluim IV | William I | Alexander II | Alexander III | First Interregnum | John | Second Interregnum | Robert I | David II | Edward | David II | Robert II | Robert III | James I | James II | James III | James IV | James V | Mary I | James VI* | Charles I* | The Covenanters | The Protectorate | Charles II* | James VII* | Mary II* | William II* | Anne*
* Also Monarch of Ireland and England

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