Kenneth II of Scotland

Cináed mac Maíl Coluim (before 954–995) was King of Alba. The son of Máel Coluim mac Domnaill, he succeeded Cuilén mac Iduilb on the latter's death at the hands of Amdarch of Strathclyde in 971.

The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba was compiled in Cináed's reign, but many of the place names mentioned are entirely corrupt, if not fictitious.[1] Whatever the reality, the Chronicle states that "[h]e immediately plundered [Strathclyde] in part. Kenneth's infantry were slain with very great slaughter in Moin Uacoruar." The Chronicle further states that Cináed plundered Northumbria three times, first as far as Stainmore, then to Cluiam and lastly to the River Dee by Chester. These raids are difficult to reconcile with the early part of Cináed's reign, and may belong to around 980, when the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records attacks on Cheshire.[2]

In 973, the Chronicle of Melrose reports that Cináed, with Máel Coluim mac Domnaill, the King of Strathclyde, "Maccus, king of very many islands" (i.e. the King of Man and the Isles Magnus Haraldsson, called Maccus mac Arailt) and other kings, Welsh and Norse, came to Chester to acknowledge the overlordship of the English king Edgar. It may be that Edgar here regulated the frontier between the southern lands of the kingdom of Alba and the northern lands of his English kingdom. Cumbria was English, the western frontier lay on the Solway. In the east, the frontier lay somewhere in later Lothian, south of Edinburgh.[3]

The Annals of Tigernach, in an aside, name three of the Mormaers of Alba in Cináed's reign in entry in 976: Cellach mac Fíndgaine, Cellach mac Baireda and Donnchad mac Morgaínd. The third of these, if not an error for Domnall mac Morgaínd, is very likely a brother of Domnall, and thus the Mormaer of Moray. The Mormaerdoms or kingdoms ruled by the two Cellachs cannot be identified.

The feud which had persisted since the death of Idulb mac Causantín between his descendants and Cináed's family persisted. In 977 the Annals of Ulster report that "Amlaíb mac Iduilb, i.e. King of Scotland, was killed by Cináed mac Domnaill." The Annals of Tigernach give the correct name of Amlaíb's killer: Cináed mac Maíl Coluim. Thus, even if only for a short time, Cináed mac Maíl Coluim had been overthrown by the brother of the previous king.[4]

Adam of Bremen tells that Sweyn Forkbeard found in exile in Scotland at this time, but whether this was with Cináed, or one of the other kings in Scotland, is unknown. Also at this time, Njal's Saga, the Orkneyinga saga and other sources recount wars between "the Scots" and the Northmen. The authority of the kings of Alba rarely stretched north of the Mounth, and these are more than probably wars between Sigurd Hlodvirsson, Earl of Orkney, and the Mormaers, or Kings, of Moray.[5]

The Chronicle says that Cináed founded a great monastery at Brechin.

Cináed was killed in 995, the Annals of Ulster say "by deceit" and the Annals of Tigernach say "by his subjects". Some later sources, such as the Chronicle of Melrose, John of Fordun and Andrew of Wyntoun provide more details, accurately or not. Supplying corrections, the simplest account is that he was killed by his own men in Fettercairn, through the treachery of Finnguala (or Fimberhele) daughter of Cuncar, Mormaer of Angus, in revenge for the killing of her only son.[6] He was buried on Iona.

The Prophecy of Berchán adds little to our knowledge, except that it names Cináed "the kinslayer" and supplies confirmation that he died in Strathmore.

Cináed's son Máel Coluim was later king of Alba. Cináed may have had a second son, named either Dúngal or Gille Coemgáin.[7] Sources differ as to whether Boite mac Cináeda should be counted a son of this Cináed or of Cináed mac Duib.[8]


  1. ^ Duncan, p. 21.
  2. ^ CKA; Duncan, p.25.
  3. ^ Duncan, pp.24–25.
  4. ^ Duncan, pp. 21–22.
  5. ^ e.g. Orkneyinga Saga, cc. 10–12.
  6. ^ The name of Cuncar's daughter is given as Fenella, Finele or Sibill in later sources. John of Fordun credits Causantín mac Cuilén and Cináed mac Duib with the planning, claiming that Cináed planned to change the laws of succession.
  7. ^ Annals of the Four Masters, s.a. 998: "Dúngal Cináed's son, was killed by Gille Coemgáin, Cináed's son." It is not clear that the Cináeds referred to are this Cináed and his nephew and namesake Cináed mac Duib.
  8. ^ Compare Duncan, p.345 and Lynch (ed), Genealogies, at about p. 680.


  • Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History A.D 500–1286, volume 1. Reprinted with corrections. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
  • Anon., Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney, tr. Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards. Penguin, London, 1978. ISBN 0-140-44383-5
  • Duncan, A.A.M., The Kingship of the Scots 842–1292: Succession and Independence. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2002. ISBN 0-7486-1626-8
  • Lynch, Michael (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Scottish History. Oxford UP, Oxford, 2002. ISBN 0-19-211696-

Preceded by:
Cuilén mac Iduilb
King of Alba
Succeeded by:
Causantín mac Cuilén
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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