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  Scots - from Gallicia to Albany

The latin name for gaelic speaking peoples is Scottii, but it is not known how they referred to themselves. They later used Alba or Alban to refer to themselves in their new land. Their language is related to Basque.

The Scots are generally agreed to be a tribe of Gaels who settled both the West of Scotland and North-East of Ireland (Ulster) to create Dal-Riata (Dalriada). Gaels believe themselves to be descendants of Mil Espaine coming from the north of Iberia, mainly Gallaecia (modern Galicia and northern Portugal), where there existed also an early form of Ogham script. This belief persists in the Scots cultures of Eire, Ulster and Scotland up to the present day, with many if not most clan leaders in those countries claiming descent from their predeccesor, back to famous kings of pre-history. Much of this is covered in the Lebor Gabala Erenn, which catalogues the path of the Gaels' ancestors in a way that, while mostly mythic, is probably an embellished account of actual historical events. Discovery of a form of early Ogham script in Gallaecia, as well as genetic studies linking the Gaels to the Basques and Galicians in northwestern Spain, lend much credence to the theory.

It is not known for sure when the speakers of Goidelic (q-Celtic also known as Gaelic) arrived and gained a foothold. Ogham scripts are the earliest written form and exist in Scotland, Ireland and Gallicia - but usually only mark place names.

There is no archaeological evidence to support the popular folk-tale of migration from Ireland to Scotland, but there is some to suggest that there was no such mass migration. The population of the area (modern day Argyll) can be shown by archaeologists to be constant during the time of the alleged Scottish invasion. It is therefore likely that the seafaring Scots took lands on both sides of the sea that separates Scotland and Ulster, and set up Dal-Riata, a kingdom remote from their earlier home in Gallicia. Later writers have made claims on behalf of later centres of power.

The main power centre for Dal-Riata was in Argyll.
Aidan mac Gabhrain, who reigned from 574 to 608 as king of Dal-Riata, built a strong navy and waged aggressive war, raiding as far as the Isle of Man and the Orkney Islands. He was less successful in land battles and lost the Battle of Degsastan in 603 to the Angles. The kingdom's power in Ulster was greatly diminished by a decisive defeat by the O'Neill (Ui Neill) in 637 at the Battle of Mag Rath.
From then on the Dalriadans focused on their lands in what is now Scotland. Their rivals were the Picts to the north and the Angles of Bernicia to the east. On the south they were bordered by Strathclyde, a Brythonic-Celt kingdom.

Dunadd, in Argyll, was the seat of the kings of Dalriada. It has been excavated and in addition to fortifications many moulds for the manufacture of jewellery were found. A census of Dalriada exists, the Senchus fer n'Alba.

Dalriada was conquered by the Picts, but archaeology suggests the Scots eventually overwhelmed the Picts culturally - that is to say, their culture became dominant within a mixed society. Kenneth MacAlpin, a Dalriadan, was the first King of the united Picts and Scots, reigning from 840 to 857 as the king of Alba or Scotland. The families who made up this mixed society are the direct ancestors of all modern Scots clans.