Duncan, Abthane of Dule, Lay Abbot of Dunkeld, Mormaer of Atholl

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Duncan, Abthane of Dule, Lay Abbot of Dunkeld, Mormaer of Atholl

Also Known As: "Donnchadh", "Duncan", "Abbott Duncan Dole", "Lord of Atholl", "Thane of Dule", "8994"
Birthplace: Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland
Death: 965 (40-49)
Battle Of Duncrub, Perthshire, Scotland (killed in battle)
Place of Burial: Scotland
Immediate Family:

Father of Duncan of Atholl, Mormaer of Atholl

Occupation: Gov of Strathclyde, abbot of Dunkeld, Abthane of Dule, EARLOF ATHOLL, Lord, de Mormaer, Comte, d'Atholl, Abbé, de Dule, Thane of Dule; Lord of Mormaer; Lay Abbott of Dunkeld, Earl of Strathclyde, Lay Abbot of Dunkeld, Priest of Dull, L2ZB-PP2
Managed by: Sharon Doubell
Last Updated:

About Duncan, Abthane of Dule, Lay Abbot of Dunkeld, Mormaer of Atholl

NOTE: The title of Mormaer designates a regional or provincial ruler in the medieval Kingdom of the Scots. "Mormaer" is not a place.

DUNCAN, son of --- (-killed 965). Abthane of Dule, lay abbot of Dunkeld. Mormaer of Atholl. From the house of the Kings of Ireland. Governor of Strathclyde.Medlands

The Annals of Ulster record that

"Donnchad the abbot of Dún Caillen" was killed in 965 in "a battle between the men of Scotland themselves"[129].
The 10th century Pictish Chronicle Cronica de Origine Antiquorum Pictorum records that "Niger filius Maelcolaim" defeated "Caniculum super Dorsum Crup", in which battle "Duchad abbas Duncalden et Dubdon satrapas Athochlach" were killed, after which Niger was expelled and "Caniculus" reigned for a short time[130]. Alex Woolf tells us that this is a scribe showing off his Latin - and 'Niger' & "Caniculus' mean 'black' & 'little dog' - also the translations of 'Dub'(d967) & 'Cuilen' (d971). So: a battle on Dorsum Crup between these two, resulted in the death of a satrap (mormaer?) of Atholl, and an abbot of Dunkeld. (Woolf, Alex: From Pictland to Alba, 789-1070: Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2007 pp201-202)

Woolf mentions that it was common for senior churchmen to lead the forces of their church estates into combat. Most secondary sources also point out the importance of the Church of St Columba in Dunkeld, & debate the likelihood of the Abbacy being an hereditary post – given that Crinan’s grandson Aethelred inherits it. Woolf, Cawley & Bill Robertson on the Clan Donnachad page say that this would mean Duncan & Crinan are likely to be descended from the Tir Conaill royalty of Ireland, in descent from the kin of St. Columba.

However, the fact that the post became hereditary after the era in which Malcolm had successfully changed the succession policy by making his own kingship hereditary, doesn’t automatically mean it was hereditary before – anymore than the Kingship in Scotland had been.

Stewart Baldwin points out that if Duncan's purported son, Crinan, was conceived in the year of his father's death 965, that would still make Crinan 80 yrs old when he dies in battle in 1045. This is, however, not impossible – Brian Boru dies in the Battle of Clontarf in his 70’s – but it does seem unlikely.

Burke’s Peerage, amongst others, appears to try & solve this problem by adding in an extra Duncan who

“Commanded the Scottish left wing at the battle of Luncarty (c990) where the Danes were so crushingly defeated that their raids on that part of what subsequently became Perthshire, hitherto periodic and devastating, were terminated..[He] had (Crinan), with two younger sons ((1) Grim, Thane (hereditary tenant of the Crown) of Strathearn (west of Perth) and Baille (functionary with judicial powers) of Dule, killed 1010 at Battle of Mortlach, where Malcolm II King of Scots defeated invading Norsemen; (2) Duncan, ancestor of the Irving's of Dumfries and Forbes Irvine's of Drum)." [Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999] However much this makes pragmatic sense, I cannot find the primary evidence for it, and some of the veracity of this is brought into question by the fact that the Luncarty Battle is now considered to be an invention by Boece

Nowhere can I find an exploration of the significance of there being two men (Duchad ,the Abbot Of Dunkeld & Dubdon, the chieftain of Atholl) killed in the 965 battle, given that by the time of Crinan it is assumed that he embodied both roles. The Catholic Encyclopaedia definition of a 'lay abbot' at this time appears to apply to the Carolingian Empire mostly. It also doesn't shed light on the hereditary nature of such a title:

"A name used to designate a layman on whom a king or someone in authority bestowed an abbey as a reward for services rendered; he had charge of the estate be longing to it, and was entitled to part of the income... It existed principally in the Frankish Empire from the eighth century till the ecclesiastical reforms of the eleventh." in 'Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland -An Ethnography of the Gael A.D. 500 - 1750, C. Thomas Cairney' provides this description.
"The Cineal Conaill in Scotland were known as the Kindred of St. Columba, the great saint who founded lona. This epithet was applied to all the descendants of St. Columba’s great-grandfather, Conall Gulban, but was especially applied to branches within the clan devoted to ecclesiastical pursuits, especially in Scotland. Thus the Kindred was comprised of several early saints, and also of the hereditary abbots of Iona, Kells, Derry and Dunkeld, some of whom were descended from the Saint Columba’s brother. The Kindred of St. Columba remained closely connected to the Abbey at lona despite changes in political control and the distance from the Cineal Conall homeland in Donegal."

An interesting addition is Bill Robertson on the Clan Donnachad page attempt to link Crinan to the Karl Hundi of the Orkney Sagas, by describing his Arms as of St. Columba enthroned on two wolves. (Unfortunately, citing no sources) However, Cairney' mentions the wolves on the clan arms too.


DUNCAN, 1st of ERYVINE, was succeeded by his eldest son and heir, also DUNCAN, about whom we know little except that he also seems to have succeeded Dubdon as Mormaer of Athole, as he is called ‘Lord of Athole’. At the battle of Luncarty (of uncertain date), where the Danes were routed, Duncan commanded the left wing of the Scottish forces, under King Kenneth III. This Duncan is the progenitor of the oldest recorded families in Great Britain; the noble family of Dunbar is certainly descended from him, and traditionally so are the noble families of Irving and Home, all in the male line; not to mention the Royal Family and numerous other families by female descent.

300 to 1306 A.D.

Sometime before 373 A.D., the Clans of the Gaelic Nations came from the west coast of Spain and established themselves on the east coast of Ireland. From there they moved on to the west coast of Scotland, and the Scots called them "Erinviene's". Erin - meaning from the west, Viene - meaning a brave, resolute, worthy man. During this time the Erinviene's had close relations with the Kings of Scotland.

During the time the Erinviene's stayed on the west coast of Scotland they built Irving castle, which later became the Town of Irving, and named the Irving River after their clan. Today, both the town and the river are called Irvine.

In 373 A.D. the Erinviene's, together with other Scottish clans, fought against the Romans. King Eugenius died, and the Erinviene's and the rest of the Albion Scots fled to Scandinavia. For many years the Scots tried to retake their land. In 404 A.D., Fergus was made King. Fergus II led the return to Scotland and, along with the Erinviene's and other Clans, they drove the Romans out of Scotland.

Three Erivine brothers - Erinus, Grim and Duncan - were grandsons of Duncan, the first of the Eryvine's, who was killed at Duncrub in 965 A.D.


The notes below are seen on the Internet without attribution. Much inaccurate / unproven in it. Be very aware

Lay Abbot of Dunkeld Duncan MacDonachadh, Thane of Dule (b. 925, d. 965) Duncan MacDonachadh, Thane of Dule (son of Heriditary Priest Duncan, Donachadh and Groa Thorsteinsdottir) was born 925, and died 965. He married Halvdan Sigurdsson.

* Groa Thorsteindottir married the mormear of Caithness, not Atholl.

* Halvdan Sigurdsson (son usually refers to a man) was born / died in Norway, and Duncan is not known to have traveled to Scandinavia.

More About Duncan MacDonachadh, Thane of Dule:

  • Date born 2: 890215
  • Date born 3: 890, Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland.215, 215, 215
  • Date born 4: 925, Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland.215
  • Date born 5: 925, Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland.215
  • Died 2: 965, Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland.215
  • Died 3: 965, Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland.215

Children of Duncan MacDonachadh, Thane of Dule and Halvdan Sigurdsson are:

  • Duncan Mormaer, Lay Abbot of Dunkeld, b. 950, Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland215, d. 1045, Isle, Scotland215.


View Tree for Heriditary Priest Duncan, DonachadhHeriditary Priest Duncan, Donachadh (b. 890, d. date unknown) Heriditary Priest Duncan, Donachadh72 was born 890 in Dull, Perthshire, Scotland72, and died date unknown in Scotland72. He married Groa Thorsteinsdottir, daughter of Thorstein Olafsson and Thurid Eyvindsdattir.

More About Heriditary Priest Duncan, Donachadh: Date born 2: 890

Children of Heriditary Priest Duncan, Donachadh and Groa Thorsteinsdottir are:

  • +Duncan MacDonachadh, Thane of Dule, b. 925, d. 965.
  • +Duncan Mormaer, Lay Abbot of Dunkeld, b. 950, Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland72, d. 1045, Isle, Scotland72.

Earl of Strathclyde & 11th Lay Abbot of Dunkeld. Died at Battle of Duncrub (Dorsum Crup), fought between king Dub and King Cuilén,

Sources 1.[S346] Ancestry Family Trees, (Name: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com. Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members.;), Ancestry Family Trees.

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