Scotlands History

King Bridei of the Picts

The Picts left no written record of how they lived, apart from a Latin manuscript with a list of their kings. One of the earliest known was Bridei or Brude, son of Maelcon or Melcon, who became king around AD 555 and died around AD 586. Bridei’s kingdom of Pictland stretched north from the land between the Forth and the Clyde. In Pictish royal families, kings were not succeeded by their sons – the lineage came through the mother’s royal birth.

During King Bridei’s reign, Columba, the Abbot of Iona, tried to convert the Picts to Christianity. The Life of Columba, written by Adamnán, tells that King Bridei was persuaded to listen to the words of the gospel when the shut and bolted gates of his stronghold were opened miraculously by Columba.

The meeting probably had political as well as religious overtones. King Bridei’s royal fortress was said to have been near the River Ness, but it is more likely that he lived in the richer farming land farther to the east.

  • A photograph of the river Ness on a misty morning

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