Eochaid ab Rhun
Eochaid ab Rhun was King of the Picts between 878 and 889 and apparently ruled jointly with the mysterious character Giric mac Dúngail. He was the grandson of Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín), and, along with Giric, succeeded his uncle Áed mac Cináeda. According to the national myth, his grandfather was the first King of Scotland, and so alongside Giric, Eochaid is Scotland’s fifth king according to most modern regal lists.
Eochaid descended from Kenneth through his mother, who was married to Rhun ab Arthgal, King of Strathclyde. The people of the kingdom were predominantly neither Picts nor Gaels, but Britons, and would have spoken a Brythonic language closely related to Old Welsh, and in modern terms, Welsh, Cornish and Breton. While Brythonic and the Goidelic language of the Gaels form two different branches of the Insular Celtic tree, the relationship between it and Pictish is less certain, with most modern theories on the latter suggesting that Pictish and its variants, was also a form of Brythonic.
It's uncertain when Rhun's reign and life ended, but one possibility is that it happened in 876, at the same time as his brother-in-law Constantine I, who according to various sources was slain by Vikings in Fife. It's also uncertain who assumed the kingship of Strathclyde after Rhun, but Eochaid is a likely candidate. In Pictland Constantine was succeeded by his brother Áed, who reigned for just one year and may have been killed by Eochaid’s possible co-ruler, Giric.
Giric and Eochaid's relationship is uncertain, but they appear to have ruled the Kingdom either jointly over a unified area or separately over different areas for 11 years. While it is possible that they held the Pictish kingship concurrently as allies, it is also conceivable that they ruled successively as opponents. Another possibility is that, whilst Giric reigned as King of the Picts, Eochaid reigned as King of Strathclyde.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba records that Eochaid and Giric’s reigns came to an end when they were both expelled from the Pictish Kingdom. Other sources however suggest that Giric was slain at Dundurn. If the accounts of Giric's downfall are to be believed, and if both he and Eochaid were allied together at the time, it is conceivable that both Eochaid and Giric fell together. Alternately, Giric's killing could have contributed to Eochaid's ejection from the kingship. Although it is unknown who was responsible for Giric's reported demise, one candidate is the succeeding Donald II, who would rule between 889 and 900.
If Eochaid had any children, there is no official record. In Strathclyde there is no further record of kingship until the turn of the tenth century, when the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba notes the passing of a certain King Dyfnwal in 908 or 915. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dyfnwal's parentage is uncertain. On one hand, he could have been Eochaid’s brother and on the other, he could have been his son or grandson. Alternately, Dyfnwal could have represented a more distant branch of the same dynasty. Eochaid may have had a daughter called Lann, as according to the Great Book of Lecan a maternal grandson of Eochaid was Lann's son, Muirchertach mac Néill, King of Ailech, who died in 943.
Assuming he was King of the Picts, Eochaid was succeeded by his cousin, and son of Constantine I, Donald II.
These scenes were built by Dan Harris as part of a series of models on the Kings and Queens of Scotland. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
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