Clan Macnaughtan Page

Lunnasting Stone, click for larger viewIn the Museum of antiquities in Edinburgh, there is a sculptured stone discovered at Lunnastinq on the mainland of Shetland. It is inscribed in the Ogham Script, the relics of a Bronze Age language and has yet to be deciphered but the last word is 'nehhtonn' perhaps the first record of our original Clan name.

(Ed Note: My brother was certainly not alone in thinking this as there does not seem a concrete answer, but, after some fairly intensive study of Ogham, I am inclined to be a believer that Ogham stems from the Basque language and I reproduce some information that I blatantly stole off the net....as I am wont to do.....)

LUNNASTING.
A) ETTECUHETTS - B) AHEHHTTANNN - C) HCCVVEVV - D) NEHHTONN
Guiter: Basque reading:> Etxekoez aiekoan nahigabe ba nengoen.
Spanish translation: El de la casa me encontraba sin voluntad en el dolor.
In English: "The one of the house found me without will in the pain."
Jackson: A 36 6x6 140 7x5x2
B 30 6x5 108 6x6x3
C 25 5x5 43 43x1
D 26 2x13 93 3x31
Total 117 3x9 384 6x4x4x4

Nyland: A: ETTEKUHETTS
et. eta etariko one of our group
.te ate atera to get away
eku eku ekurugaitz anxiously
uhe uhe uherdura confusion
et. etai etaipa period
.t. aita aita Father
.s. aska askamen freedom
"With the help of the Father, one of our group anxiously got away to freedom during the period of confusion."
B: AHEHHTTANNN
ahe aihe aiher full of anger
eh. ehu ehun hundreds
.h. uhe uherdura in uproar, confusion
.t. eta -eta (emphasis of previous word)
.ta ata atako outside
an. anai anaitu to gather
.n. aina aina as well as
.n an -an inside
"Hundreds, full of anger, were in uproar and gathered outside as well as inside."
C: HKKBBEBB
.h. aha ahal I wish
.k. ako akorduan euki to remember
.k. oka oka fullness
.b. abo abots voice
.be obe obeditze obedient
eb. eba ebanjelari evangelist
.b. abe abe cross
"I wish to remember the fullness of the voice of our obedient evangelist of the Cross."
D: NEHHTONN.
ne ne nebarrebak brothers and sisters
eh. ` eha ea do everything
.h. aha ahalgarri possible
.to ato atonketa preparation
on. ona onarpen admission, salvation
.n. anai anaide brother in Christ
"Brothers and sisters do everything possible to prepare for the salvation of our brother in Christ."
The place name Lunnasting itself is interesting:
.lu-una-asti-ing
.lu alu alu stupid
una una unagarri boring
asti azti aztiatu superstitious
ingu ingu inguraldi place
"A stupid, boring, superstitious place".)

A Scottish manuscript of 1450 discovered by Professor Skene, an Histographer Royal of the last century, contains the claimed ancient genealogy of the McNaughtan, descending through the old Pictish Mormaers or Great Stewards of Moray who ruled this province from the earliest recorded times. It also shows the Clan's descent from the original Scottish settlers of Dalriada in the west.
In the chronological record of any name, race or country, as so much was documented at a time far removed from the actual event, we must accept that although based probably on fact, parts must be regarded as being in the realms of myth and legend.

friendsOur story begins in the early 5th century with the Pictish kings.
The natural succession of the Monarchs came from hereditary Royal Families whereby the throne descended to the King's sister's children in preference to his own sons, thereby all sons of royal mothers had a claim to the succession. An alternative was by collateral succession meaning brother to brother and nephew to uncle. This lasted until the 11th century when the father to son system became effective. Many times in Scotland's sword-lashed history, the Crown was attained only by strength of arms.

The first reliable record of the Clan names was Nechtan Drust, son of Erp who, while ruling the Picts until his death in 451, demonstrated his military expertise against the Roman invaders, for the Irish Annalists accorded him the appendage 'of a Hundred Battles'.
He was succeeded by his brother Nechtan Mor Brec, also known as Morbed, Nechtan Celtanieth ,or in the Latin Lists as Nectonius Magnum, reigning from 455 to 480 and who, according to the Pictish Chronicles, had been banished to Ireland for some time by his brother who no doubt saw him as a threat to his leadership. During his reign, it is recorded that he suddenly died but that Saint Buitte who had just returned from Rome, fortuitously arrived and restored Nechtan to life. In gratitude, Nechtan bestowed upon him the hill fort or camp at which the 'miracle' took place probably Dunnachton, and was preserved in the Church of Kirkbuddo or Castrum Boethii nearby.

He is also attributed with founding the Church of Abernathy in southern Perthshire in honour of Saint Bridget, abbess of Kildare who had prophecised his return to his homeland while in exile and his eventual possession of the Kingdom. It was dedicated in the presence of Darugdach, the successor of Bridget 'who sang Alleluia over that offering'.
The Foundation of a church or monastery usually began with a grant of land to a Saint by the head of a tribe or clan to which the area belonged, and the abbacy remained in the family and elective in the individual. If however, the Saint was from a different tribe, the succession was often retained by the Saint's family.
We turn to the Annals of Inisfallen to read of the Battle of Sequise in 671 between Garnaith, son of Uuid and the family of Nechtan where there is recorded the death of Angus son of Nechtan while the Annals of Tighernac state that Lochene son of Nechtan Cennfota and Camusach son of Angus also fell. This would appear to have been a battle of succession for the throne between Pictish and Scottish members of the same family, possibly cousins.  River Tay, click for larger viewThe site of the conflict was on the west bank of the River Tay, a few miles above Dunkeld near Dalguise. On the opposite side of the river, a cairn about thirty feet in diameter once stood which contained a single stone coffin and near it, two upright stones while a short distance away, were found a few rude stone coffins, memorials of the battle.
The Tiqhernac notes that in 671, the Picts expelled King Drust son of Domnall, who had succeeded his brother Garnaith, and elected Brude the son of Bile to sit upon the vacant throne. He was paternally a descendant of the Royal House of Alclyde ( Ail Cluaithe or Britons of Strathclyde ) his father being Alpin a king of Dumbarton who in turn was the son of Nechtan and father of Oan who slew Domnall Brec the Scottish King at the Battle of Strath Caruin in 642 and his brother Cathasuidh in 649.
Their selection of Brude as Monarch was to prove an extremely wise choice, for on May 20, 685 was fought the great Battle of Dun Nachtan ( Nachtan's Fort or Hill ) in Forfarshire, also known as the Battle of Nechtan's Mere. Nechtans mere drained in modern times, click for larger viewThe Saxons under the Northumbrian King Ecgfrith, had attacked the Pictish kingdom 'without provocation and against the advice of his court'. Crossing the Forth from Lothian, the ancient Bernecia, they entered Strathearn, whereupon the Pictish defenders made a strategic retreat into the mountains leading Ecgfrith into the swampy area around Dun Nachtan which adjoined the lake and here the campaign was halted. Ecgfrith was slain and his army cut to pieces by the Picts under the command of Brude. Dunnichen House still stands on the site.
It is said that without the Nechtan's Mere victory, there might not have been Scotland as we know it, for the Picts would have been driven back into the mountain fastness of the far north. Prior to this battle, they had endured continuous aggression from the Northumbrians who were gradually occupying or becoming overlords of the Firth and Clyde areas. The victory enabled the Picts to recover the southern part of the kingdom and also released the Britons of Strath Clyde and Scots of Dalriada from any bondage. The Scots thereby regained their territory lost in 803 when their King Aedan was defeated by Ecgfrith's grandfather.

St.Andrews, click for larger viewThe story is told, that sometime during 685, a stranger brought a parcel of bones to the House of Nachtan and nobody doubted his claim that they were the true relics of the Apostle Andrew. They consisted of the right arm bone with three fingers and three toes of the right foot. The stranger was allowed to build a shrine for the relics on the coast of Fife, later to become the Abbey of Kilrymond and subsequently St. Andrews, thus Scotland acquired it's Patron Saint and the ultimate site for it's first University.

On matters ecclesiastic, the death wasclick for larger view recorded in 678, of Neachtan Nair who can be identified as Nechtan of Deer, the Great Saint of Deeside in Aberdeenshire sometimes referred to as Nathalan or Naclan. There is an ancient chapel in Kilnaughtan Bay on the road to Oa-lslay dedicated to him and a grave slab of a knight lies inside.

In 696, Brude MacDereli,sometimes referred to as son of Dagart of the Life became King of the Picts and it is mentioned in the Chartulary of St. Andrews as giving the Isle of Lochleven to God, St. Servanus and the Keledei or Culdee Hermits dwelling there. Glen Lyon, click for larger viewHe accompanied Adamnan the missionary of St.Columbas to Ireland for an Ecclesiastical Synod and when Adamnan died, his body was carried down Glen Lyon on a bier attended by the family of Nachtan according to his last wishes. The Tiqhernac records Brude's death in 706 and the accession of Nechtan Mor MacDereli, his brother.

Here we encounter one of the many enigmas concerning descent and this one centres around Brude MacBile and the Brude and Nechtan MacDereli brothers. One eminent authority maintained that Bile and Dereli were the same person, possibly as some records used the spelling MacDerile. More likely is that Dereli is a woman's name derived from Der-ile or daughter of the Isle.

In the first year of the reign of Nechtan Mor (Great) he was visited by Boniface the missionary of Abbot Coalfrid of Wearmouth.
As a result of their discussions, Nechtan asked for not only a list of the points of difference between the Roman Church and his own, but also an architect to build a church after the manner of the Romans to be dedicated to St.Peter. Restenneth Priory, click for larger viewThis was done and on completion, became Restenneth Priory or Rosemarky on the north shore of the Moray Firth near Forfar. In the same year at the Moot Hill or Hill of Meeting, King Nechtan publicly announced his adherence to the Roman date for celebrating Easter contrary to the tenets of the Columban missionaries ; also that the Roman coronal tonsure should be received by all his clergy. In consequence, the hill was re-named Caistel Credi, the Castle of Belief or Credulity, by the adherents. In 838 it became the home of the Stone of Scone and place of coronation for all future Scottish Kings.
The building of the church, virtually spelt the ending of the domination of the Irish Columban Church and the establishment of a national Pictish Church.
The Tighernac notes that in 717, NechtanIona Abbey, click for larger view expelled the Monks of Iona from Pictland. In some quarters, these monks whose Order was founded by St. Columba who had kinsmen in Argyll and to whom he brought Christianity in 563, were regarded as oppressors rather than clerics but it is probable that their expulsion 'across the mountain chain of Drumalban' was a result of their failure to accept the new belief's of Nechtan. It is interesting that Columba's kinsmen were the Scottish Kings, Conall and Aedan, his mother being a daughter of Loarn and through the Clan MacNauqhtan, claimed descendancy in the House of Loarn, came the quartering of the Cross in the Clan's Coat of Arms.

Another interesting tale, concerns Nechtan and Triduana, a virgin abbess who accompanied Boniface on his mission to Nechtan and who was later canonized as St.Treadwell. Reputedly of great beauty, Nechtan found her so desirable that he did his utmost to make her his mistress.
However the feeling not being mutual, the lady fled to Dunfallandy in Atholl.
Nechtan dispatched a messenger after her to proclaim that it was the beauty of her eyes above all, that inspired the passion in his breast. Triduana's answer was to pluck out her eyes in front of the startled messenger, impale them on a thorn and send them back to Nechtan. She then became a recluse in a rock cell that had a spring of water jetting from it's wall and for centuries after her death, people with eye afflictions made pilgrimage to bathe them in the water in the belief that they might be cured. This tends to suggest that Triduana may have 'miraculously' recovered her sight and the love-struck Nechtan was the victim of a sleight of hand trick to put an end to his unwelcome attentions.

The Tiqhernac in 713, records the death 'by violence' of Cinaedh the brother of Nechtan. The deed was perpetrated by one Talorg MacDrostan, said by the Irish Annalists as being the king of the district of Atholl and probably Nechten's cousin, and the death is suggested to have been carried out with the knowledge, if not at the instigation of Nechtan himself.
In 724, Nechtan abdicated the throne to become a cleric and was succeeded by his nephew Drust. He may have retired to the church he had dedicated to St. Peter or to a sea cave in the district of Nigg known as King's Cave, the path to it being known as Cadha Neachdaid or Nechtan's Path. Another possibility is that he may have had some kind of reconciliation with the Iona monks and retired there, as there is near the present ruins, the remains of a burying ground called Cill- ma-Neachtan which marks the site of an oratory. However for reasons unknown but probably to do with regal succession, he returned to secular life the following year and appears to have had a hand in imprisoning Simal son of Drust. In 726 Drust retaliates by doing the same to Nechtan.

Presumably some sort of truce or exchange was agreed upon for in 728, a four way struggle for the Crown began between Nechtan, his nephews Druse and Alpin who were also half - brothers to the Scots King Eochaid III, and Ungus ( Angus ) son of Urquist ( Fergus ) who had a claim to the throne through Taran his mother's brother. He is also said to have married Finchaem the sister of Nechtan and was therefore Nechtan's brother-in-law.
Having driven his brother Drust from the throne, Alpin met Angus in battle at Monib Croib near the River Tay, where Angus was the victor with Alpin's son being slain. Alpin next attacked Nechtan at Caisteal Credi where Alpin was again defeated and forced to flee to Dalriada where he became King for a short period after the death of his half-brother.
Having disposed of Algin, Nechtan had now only to contend with Angus who attacked him near the Castle of Moncur in the Carse of Gowrie. It was Angus who carried the day and the 'officers of Nechtan slain, Biceot MacMoneit and his son and Finguine MacDrostan and Ferot son of Finguine'. Angus finally encountered Drust who seems to have re-organized his troops, near Kilrimont and slew him on August 21, 731. Nechtan died in 732 and there is a suggestion that in his struggle to regain the Kingship, he was supported by Selbach the Dalriadic leader of Loarn, who was very likely a relative.

Returning to the previously mentioned Relics of St. Andrews, we now find a second version of the story arising in 736 when the monk Regulus arrived at Kilrimont and travelled to Forteviot to meet the three sons of King Ungus, Homonam (Uuen), Finguine and Nechtan, bringing the Relics with him.
Angus was at the time engaged in battle with Eadberct of Northumbria and in return for the protection and subsequent victory afforded by St. Andrew, they gave Regulus a tenth part of their fortress and lands, including a shrine.

St.Andrews Cathedral, click for larger viewEither version could be correct, the Relics originally being brought north by Bishop Acca of Hexam when he was expelled from England. With St. Andrews/Kilrimont being founded between 731 and 761, this second occasion could have been the actual dedication of the Abbey or alternatively a ploy to obtain more land for the church.

In 741, Angus utterly destroyed a Scots army but attempting the same to the Britons under King Teudebur ( Tudor ) in 750, he failed dismally and lost Dalriada as well. Had he been victorious, Scotland might well have today been known as Pictavia!
There is a gap in the Tighernac for the period 765 until 973 which regrettably precludes much valuable information from this reliable source.
At Easter-time in 836, there was a conflict between the Scots and the Picts and many Pictish nobles were slain.
This appears to have been engineered by Alpin the Scots King of the time,who, on the death of the Pictish King Eoghann, claimed the throne of both kingdoms on the basis that his mother was Fergusia, daughter of King Fergus. Alpin was the victor of this conflict but being elated with success he was, in another battle fought on July 20 of the same year, defeated and decapitated at Pitelpie near Dundee. At this time, the Picts were also having problems with the Danish invasion of their territories and while they were so engaged, Kenneth, son of Alpine either acting in concert with the Danes or using the opportunity, seized the throne in 844.

The arrival of the Norsemen appears to have been the catalyst that caused the 'disappearance' of the Picts as a distinct race. Both they and the Scots were continually repelling the Norse raids which no doubt weakened both their races and an apparent movement eastward toward Forteviot by the Scots, seems to have joined them together to the detriment of the Picts and with the rise of Kenneth, caused their political extinction. With his succession came the consequent union of the two kingdoms into one Monarchy but the Pictish Highlanders continued to constantly oppose the succession of Kenneth's family. The Pictish Mormaers then held rank next to the King and three Mormaers of Moray eventually succeeded in attaining the Throne of Scotland.
It should be pointed out that the name Nechtan is pure Gaelic and always appears in this form in the Chronicles apart from the odd time when it is written Naitan, a Welsh - Pictish variation. The name is found both in Ireland and among the Britons but commonly only among the Picts.

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  • Peter Levarre-Waters
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