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18 June 2014
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Immigration and Emigration
Dunadd hill fort
© Kilmartin House Trust
Dalriada: The Land of the First Scots

The first Irish in Scotland settled on the western coasts around the year 350 after raiding there (the word Scoti means raider, a term coined by the Romans), although it would be at least another century before settlement really began in earnest, with the arrival of King Fergus Mor in c500 AD. Communication was certainly established between the Irish tribes and the Picts of Northern Scotland by the year 367, as both launched assaults on Roman Britain in that year.

The Dal Riata tribe originated in south west Ireland, but gradually migrated until they came to settle in the far north eastern corner of the island, in what is present day Antrim. Dal Riata in Ireland made up one of three constituent kingdoms in the overkingdom of Uladh, which comprised most of modern Ulster.

This kingdom was gradually squeezed by the Ui Neill tribe into a smaller and smaller area, which perhaps explains why they looked to colonise a new land.

Once the Scots arrived in Dalriada they divided themselves into three tribes. The Cenel Loairn in the north held Coll, Tiree, Mull and the land stretching north of Oban and its southern edge near Inveraray. The Cenel nGabrain, who were the overlords of the tribes, held the southern portion of Kintyre, the Cowal peninsula, Jura and Arran. The third group, Cenel Oengusa, held sway on Islay. All these tribes were still connected with the kingdom left behind in Antrim as well as with each other.


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