Kingdom of the Gaels -
The Royal Centre of Dunadd
the Gaelic Kingdom of Dál Riata and the royal centre
of Dunadd - a stunningly beautiful hill fort in modern day
Argyll, where a footprint in the rock marks the inaugural
spot where the Gaelic kings were symbolically married to the
land they were to rule - a consort to the female nature spirit
which the Gaels worshipped from pagan times.
hill fort, in Argyll, can lay claim to being the foundation
stone of the Kingdom of the Scots. It was the royal centre
of the kingdom of Dál Riata, whose kings became the
Kings of Scotland and whose people, the Gaels, gave Scotland
its name and Gaelic culture.
is a spectacular site to visit and traces of its Dark Age
splendour can still be found. It lay at the centre of the
Dark Age Kingdom of Dál Riata, which stretched northwards
to Ardnamurchen, west to northern Ireland and south to Arran
and the Mull of Kintyre.
heyday Dunadd would have been an impressive sight, a single
rock outcrop set in the flat bottom of the Kilmartin Valley.
On its upper slopes Dunadd was surrounded by stone ramparts,
the remains of which can still be seen, and entry was through
a natural cleft in the rock sealed by wooden gates. Beyond
the gate were houses and workshops for smelting iron and gold.
An important trading centre, many goods flowed through it:
gold from Ireland, wine from southern Europe, even rare minerals
from the far east used by scribes to colour manuscripts.
a second set of ramparts lay Dunadds summit, possibly
the site of the kings mead house. Just below the summit,
on an outcrop of rock, lies the inauguration stone of the
Kings of Dál Riata. A footprint carved into the rock
is the most striking and evocative symbol of Scottish Kingship.
Here the kings of Dál Riata, from Aedan to Kenneth
MacAlpine, were inaugurated, their followers gathered below.
inauguration stone of The Kings of Dal Riata (left and above).
The King would place his foot in the hole, symbolising his
union with the land.
brought expectations: that a new king would bring fertility,
bountiful seasons and success in war. The ceremony was partly
pagan: a symbolic marriage to the land, with the kings
bard reciting his genealogy back to his mythic ancestors;
and part Christian: as the kings were blessed by the abbot
for Dal Riata Factsheet
BBC is not responsible for
the content of external Web