King Gregor, Founder of the MacGregor’s Clan, Protector of the Culdees

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Giric, King of Scots, of Northern Pictland, Fortune (AKA King Gregor, or “Gregory the Great”)

Mural at Edinburg Castle (1 of 2 depicting Eochaid and Giric at the center)

Royal Protector of the Culdees, Founder of the Pictish Clan Dynasty of the MacGregors

Giric or Gregor mac Dungal was crowned as King of the Scots at Scone in 878 and reigned till 889.

Giric wasn’t only well known as the founder of the MacGregor Dynasty, he was also greatly esteemed as protector of the Culdees (Columban church) to get equal rights in the Picts lands. He not only stood up to the rivalries and threats of this church, he also pushed back the Anglo Saxons, as well as conquered a part of England and Ireland.

Gregor was well known for his attempt, well before his time, to become the first ecumenical monarch in history.  His position as state head of the Pictish Church, granted him the authority to grant equality of status to the Scotic (or Columban) Church.

More indepth info at:

Elizabeth Sutherland summed it up well in her book, “In Search of the Picts”: Girig, the Pict, is said to have freed the Columban Church from Pictish rules and burdens.

He was specifically praised in the Culdees Litany of Dunkeld (ca 885).  In it, the Culdees prayed for the King Giric (Gregor) and his army:

We ask You to hear us

That Bishops, Abbots, Culdees and all the people of Albany may be preserved and protected,  

we ask You to hear us
That our King Gregory with his army, from all the snares of the enemy may be defended, we ask You to hear us

(Latin: “Ut regem nostrum Girich cum exercito suo ab omnibus inimicorum insiidis tuearis et defendas, te rogamus audi nos.”)


He is called Grig MacDungal (or Makdougall) in the Nomina Regum (List of Kings), Chronica Regum, the Chronicles of Melrose, and the Chronicles of Elegies

In the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba (ca 955AD) he’s mentioned only as Girig, jointly ruling with Eochaid (vs 16).

Gregory ‘The Great’ (also known as Grig, Giric or Mac Rath, ‘Son of Fortune’), active 878 – 889. Scottish king

By the 12th century, Giric had acquired legendary status as liberator of the Scottish church from Pictish oppression and, fantastically, as conqueror of Ireland and most of England. As a result, Giric was known as Gregory the Great. This tale appears in the variant of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba which is interpolated in Andrew of Wyntoun‘s Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland. Here Giric, or Grig, is named “Makdougall”, son of Dúngal.

List “D” of the Chronicle, which may be taken as typical, contains this account of Giric:

Giric, Dungal’s son, reigned for twelve years; and he died in Dundurn, and was buried in Iona. He subdued to himself all Ireland, and nearly [all] England; and he was the first to give liberty to the Scottish church, which was in servitude up to that time, after the custom and fashion of the Picts.[17]

Giric’s conquests appear as Bernicia, rather than Ireland (Hibernia), in some versions. William Forbes Skene saw a connection between this and the account in the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto which claims that soon after the death of King Halfdan, the Northumbrians and the Northmen united under King Guthfrith to defeat a Scots invasion.[18]

This account is not found in the Poppleton Manuscript. The lists known as “D”, “F”, “I”, “K”, and “N”,[19] contain a different version, copied by the Chronicle of Melrose.[20]

Benjamin Hudson wrote:
Giric, rather than being a member of Cenél nGabráin dynasty of Cináed mac Ailpín and his kin, was a member of the northern Cenél Loairn-descended dynasty of Moray.

In the Irish Version of the Pictish Chronicle, it also agrees. For most others of the Pictish kings it lists them as a child (filius) of one of the predecessors. However as Girig won the Kingship in combat, he is listed just as Girig mac Dungaile.

He’s also called brother of Donald mac Dunstan, king of Picts & Alba d. 889

King Giric was the son of Dungal of Moray, The Pictish Chronicle lists the line back into the 5th Century. Moray was the Northern Kingdom of the Picts. Some histories lead readers to believe this Royal line of the Picts was entirely wiped out by the Vikings, and only the line of the Southern Kingdom and the MacAlpin Dynasty continued on.  However this line continued on. Today the motto of the MacGregor Clan is “‘Riogh Mo Dhream” (My Race is Royal).

He supposedly was of the more established line of the Picts which survived the Vikings and the Anglo Saxons. He was thus unrelated to the McAlpin and he actually got his Kingship by the right of defeat in battle,slaying the usurper Hugh MacKenneth. Cinneadh MacAlpin was the founder of a Pict dynasty (of several), not his father, Alpin. Alpin was never king of Dalriada and to verify this, the Annals of Ulster never mentioned him. He was a minor noble who lived in  Kintyre, his presence there being tolerated by the High King of Albann. The average length of the nine reigns since the death of Onnus II in 834, was only two years.  This was due to the chaos caused by incessant raids by Vikings along the coasts and even deep inland.  This section of the Pictish Chronicle verifies that Albann had lost control of vast areas of the west and north to Vikings, and that Strathclyde and Lothian remained hostile.  Moray remained a separate Pict Kingdom under its own dynasty.

Kenneth MacAlpin was a Pict king, not the first King of Scotland.  Actually, the first official King of Scotland was Lulach, another Pict, and a stepson of MacBeth of the hereditary Moray dynasty.  One must bear in mind, the Picts were not an exclusive society, they readily mixed with other races and they traced their ancestry back through their mothers, the most important element in their lives.  Therefore, the descendents of Alpin considered themselves in every sense – Picts.  They bore Pict names, and they had Pict mothers.


The Northern Pict Kingdom Continues Until 1130

(What Some Historians Don’t Want You To Know)

How the North maintained its Pict culture and dynasty

The split between the Northern and Southern Pict Kingdoms –

When Nehhtonn III decided to eliminate the Scottic influences on the Celtic church in Albann in 717, he assumed the title of “Protector of the Faith”, and drove out any church Clerics who refused to abide by his reforms.  New Dalriada and the Northern Pict Kingdom of Greater Moray immediately revolted, which eventually led to Nehhtonn’s forced abdication, and his  expulsion to a remote monastery.

Nehhtonn’s successor, his brother Drust, immediately rescinded Nehhtonn’s controversial decrees.  However, the repercussions remained.  The Northern Kingdom remained independent for over 400 years, and the anxiety caused in New Dalriada simmered for centuries, and was only diminished when Grig decreed the Scotic church was equal to the Pict Church, and Scottish clerics could have access to Pict Church positions.

This split between the two most powerful regions of Albann, was the main element in the MacAlpin usurpation of the throne of the Southern Kingdom.  Dalriada and the northern Kingdom became religious allies in their opposition to Nehhtonn’s decrees.  Subsequently, many Scots migrated into the relatively empty and more secure plains of Moray to escape the pagan Norse invaders.

The Vikings wipe out the Pict Nobility in the north –

The dominant kingdom in Albann before the Viking Age was the northern Pictish kingdom of Fortriu, later Moreb (in Latin) or Moray (in English) on the shores of the Moray Firth.   By the ninth century, the Gaels of Dalriada were subject to the kings of Fortriu of the family of Constantín mac Fergusa.  His family dominated Fortriu after 789, and no doubt Constantín was a kinsman of Ónnus I of the Picts, from around 730. The dominance of Fortriu came to an end in 839 with a defeat by Viking armies reported by the Annals of Ulster in which King Uen of Fortriu and his brother, Bran, Constantín’s nephews, together with the king of Dál Riata, Áed mac Boanta, “and others almost innumerable” were killed.

These deaths led to a period of instability lasting a decade as several families attempted to establish their dominance in the Northern and Southern Pict Kingdoms of Albann.  By  848, Kenneth MacAlpin had emerged as the winner in the south.

The House of Moray –

Throughout their history, the kings of Moray were faced by powerful enemies to the north and south.  In the north they struggled to resist the Norse Earls of Orkney and Sutherland, eager to control the rich woodlands of northern Scotland as a supply of timber for their ships.  In the south, they strenuously resisted the ambitions of Scottish kings, who sought to make Moray part of their realm.  Although the original Pict Moray ruling families were infiltrated by Scots on the male side, their inherent independent spirit was not extinguished by conquest, colonization or expulsion until 1230AD, when David I (1124–53), to pacify the area, appointed a Flemish family as Mormaer, and they took the name Murray.

Despite conquest, colonization, interbreeding and expulsion, the leading families of Moray continued to resist the kings of Scots until 1230. The days were over, however, when Scotland was a patchwork of regional kings. The king of Scots, the greatest regional power in northern Britain, brought all of the mainland north of the Tweed and Solway within his realm, and Moray was dominated by a Flemish family, introduced by David I, who took Moray as their name.

The so-called House of Moray is used to illustrate the succession of rulers whose base was in Moray and who sometimes ruled all of Albann, and later, Scotland.

The so-called house of Loairn or of Moray was supposedly distantly related to the Scottish House of Alpin on the male side, its rival in southern Albann.  They both claimed a mythical descent from the founder of New Dalriada, the part Pict/part Firbolg; Loarn mac Erc (or Erp).  Some of its members became the last kings of the Picts while three centuries later, three members succeeded to the Scottish throne, ruling Scotland from 1040 until 1078.

At times when their rivals held the throne of Albann, the Loairn leaders however maintained their effectively independent state of Moray, where a succession of kings ruled.

The Loairn succession followed both the female and male succession rites, resulting in practice to outcomes where branches of the leaders’ extended family rotated on the throne, possibly keeping a balance between important branches.  For example, MacBeth descended from one branch and his stepson, Lulach, from another. King Onnus, the last independent King of Moray, however was the son of the daughter of Lulach. indicating that matrilineal succession was used at least to some extent, contrary to most historical reports.

The most famous Moray king was Macbethad, who successfully turned the tables on the southern Albann kings, and became king of Albann after killing Duncan I in 1040.  Even though Duncan’s son Malcolm (III) killed Macbethad in 1057, it was Lulach of the Moray dynasty who became the first King of Scots.  Malcolm slew Lulach the following year, but he had to recognize Lulach’s son, Mael Snechta, king of Moray, as heir to the Scottish throne.

Only when Malcolm Canmore defeated Mael Snechta in 1078, can it be said that Moray’s chances of dominating the Scottish kingdom peacefully were brought to a halt. Mael Snechta was exiled to Ulidia.  However, Moray’s hopes of regaining power were not fully extinguished.

Moray Invades Scotland and Pays the Price –

Ónnus mac inghine Lulaich, ri Moréb ruled Moray until his death in 1130.  He attempted the impossible, and paid for it with his life.  He led 5,000 of his troops in an invasion of Albann, only to be defeated decisively at Stracathro (25 miles north-east of Dundee).

Orderic Vitalis wrote that in the year 1130, Ónnus with Máel Coluim mac Alasdair invaded Scotland with 5000 warriors. The Moravians were met by King David’s general, an old Anglo-Saxon noble named Edward Siward. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reported “a great slaughter”.  The Annals of Ulster reported: Bellum itir fhiru Alban & feru Moreb i torcradar .iiii. mile d’fheraibh Moréb im a righ .i. Oenghus m. ingine Luluigh; mile imorro & uel centum quod est uerius d’fheraibh Alban i frithghuin.  Translated, that would read: “War between Albann and Moray.  About 4,000 Moray casualties with their king Onnus, son of the daughter of Lulach, and about 1,000 Albann casualties fell in a counterattack”  The Annals of Innisfallen made clear that the battle took place in southern Scotland, and was actually an invasion.

The Scots then invaded Moray, which, as Orderic Vitalis puts it, “lacked a defender and lord.”  After Ónnus’s defeat, Moray’s governorship was probably granted to William fitz Duncan.  After the death of William Fitz Duncan, in 1147, Moray was colonized by King David I’s French, Flemish and English followers (In the longer term, most of those became Gaelicized), and many Picts were forcibly uprooted and exiled to the south.

Several minor Pict led revolts occurred afterwards in Moray but were quickly snuffed out by those loyal to the Scottish king.

Some other entries in the Annals of Ulster associated with Moray:

In 1032AD, Gilla Comgán son of Mael Brigte, King of Moray, was burned together with fifty people (in a house) .

In 1085, Mael Snechta, son of Lulach, last king of Moray, and a superior of Corcach, in Ulster, died peacefully.

In 1116, Ladhmann son of Domnall, grandson of the king of Albann, was killed by the men of Moray.

In 1118, Maria, daughter of Mael Coluim (Malcom Canmore), daughter of the king of Albann and wife to the king of England, died.

List of Kings of Moray (Fortriu) –

UUEN, ( 837 –  839)


Feradaich, Son of Fergusa.






CUNCAR  (xx-995)


Findláech mac RuaidrH, (1010 – 1020)  At the naval Battle of Clontarf, in 1014, Jarl Siguðr of Orkney fought a battle with the Moravians, who were led by a “Finnle” (i.e. Findláech).  He was murdered in 1020 by his nephews.  The Annals of Tigernach say the sons of his brother, Máel Brigte, were responsible.  One of these sons, Máel Coluim, son of Máel Brigte, became King, and died in 1029.  A second son, Gille Coemgáin, was killed in 1032. He was burned in a house with fifty of his men.  He had been married to Gruoch with whom he had a son, the future king Lulach. It has been proposed that Gille Coemgáin’s death was the doing of Mac Bethad, in revenge for his father’s death, or of Máel Coluim son of Cináed, to rid himself of a rival.

MAEL Coemgáin, (1020 – 1029). Son of Mael Brigte.  Killed in 1029.

Gille Coemgáin, (1029 – 1032.  Another son of Mael Brigte.  His death in 1032 was blamed on MacBethad.

Mac Bethad,  (1032 – 1057). Son of Findlaech + a grandaughter of Malcom II.   Also became king of Albann – 1040 – 1057. Known as the “Red King”.   Killed by a son of Duncan.  Died 15th August 1057.

Lulach mac Coemgáin, (15 August 1057 – 17 March 1058). Son of Gille Coemgain + Queen Grouch of Albann.  He was the first monarch to be proclaimed “King of Scots” .  Lulach was the son of Gruoch of Scotland, from her first marriage to Gille Coemgáin, Mormaer of Moray, and thus the stepson of Mac Bethad mac Findlaích. Following the death in battle of Macbeth in 1057, the king’s followers placed Lulach in the throne. Lulach ruled only for a few months before being assassinated and succeeded by Malcolm III.

Mael Snechta, Son of Lulach + Finnghuala of Angus. Born in 1057.  He is credited in a near-contemporary Irish source as being king of Scotland.  Although his name does not appear in medieval Scottish king-lists.  It is possible that his reign was suppressed or, that he was initially recognized as Malcolm III’s successor but was exiled to Ulidia.  Mael Snechta was a rebel leader in Moray.  He suffered a serious defeat by Malcolm III which broke his power.  He died in Ulster peacefully in 1085.

Onnus, (1078 – 1130). Son of daughter of Lulach. (Invaded Albann). Died in battle – 1130.

Some remarkable facts about Moray:

Moray has the tallest people on the average than anywhere in Scotland.

Northern Scotland has the largest percentage of people with red hair than anywhere on earth.

Note:  Since Moray was the centre of population and power of ancient Albann, these two facts speak volumes about the physiology of the Picts.

So now you can say you know about the Clan’s Motto ‘s Rioghal Mo Dhream, my race is royal. May we all be inspired by the great founder of MacGregor, the Protector of the Culdees.