Perhaps a more likely scenario to Kenneth’s ascendancy is that the kingships of Gaels and Picts underwent a process of gradual fusion, perhaps starting with Kenneth, and rounded off in the reign of Constantine II, when in 906 he met Bishop Cellach at the Hill of Belief near the royal city of Scone and cemented the rights and duties of Picts on an equal basis with those of Gaels (pariter cum Scottis) and hence the change in styling from King of the Picts to King of Alba.
This does not mean that Kenneth did not have to fight for the throne, it is just that he is unlikely to have done so as an ‘outsider’. In 839 a succession crisis rose in the Pictish Kingdom of Fortriu, which is often referred to synonymously with Pictland in general, when King Uen son of Óengus, his brother Bran, Áed mac Boanta and other notable members of the dynasty were killed in battle against the Vikings. This situation resulted in at least four would-be kings warring for supreme power.
Kenneth's reign is dated from 843, but it was probably not until 848 that he defeated the last of his rivals for power. The Pictish Chronicle claims that he was king in Dál Riata for two years before becoming Pictish king in 843, but this is not generally accepted. Little detail is known of his reign, although a few sources offer some insight. In 849 he had the relics of Saint Columba, which may have included the Monymusk Reliquary, transferred from Iona to Dunkeld. Apparently he also invaded Anglo-Saxon lands six times, capturing Melrose and burning Dunbar.
Kenneth died on 13th February 858 at the palace of Cinnbelachoir, which is thought to have been near Scone. He left at least two sons, Constantine and Áed, who were later kings, and at least two daughters. One daughter married Rhun, king of Strathclyde, their son and future king Eochaid being the result of this marriage. His other daughter, Máel Muire married two important Irish kings of the Uí Néill. Her first husband was Aed Finliath of the Cenél nEógain, her second husband was Flann Sinna of Clann Cholmáin.
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