Early Scots
The Howe of the Mearns

Quoted from "W. J. Watson" "Place Names of Scotland"
Corc, son of Lughaidh, is, of course, a perfectly historical character.
He became king of Munster, and his grandson Oengus, son of Natfraoch,
was baptized by Patrick.
That he was actually the founder of the Eoghanacht of Magh Gerginn
may be true or it may not.
What is certain is that there was a branch of this great Munster family there,
and that already in the ninth century it was reckoned to be of old establishment.
It may have been these [220] Eoghanacht
who helped to clear the 'swordland' among the Britons of Magh Gerginn.
Their name appears to survive in Balmackewan, Baile mac Eoghain,
'stead of the sons of Eoghan,' in the parish of Marykirk,
and the name Cairbre is found in Drumforber, Drumquharbir 1539 (RMS),
'Cairbre's ridge,' in the adjoining parish of Laurencekirk.
Near it is Conveth, the old name of the whole parish
representing Early Irish coindmed, modem coinmheadh, 'free quartering, billeting';
the district would have been so named because it bore the special burden
of quartering the household troops of the lord.
Dundee is in Gaelic Dùn Dèagh, which seems to mean 'Fort of Daig(h),'
for the genitive of Daig is Dega, in modern spelling Deagha.
Daig, meaning 'fire,' was a rather uncommon Irish name,
though Aed, 'fire,' was very common. One of Corc's sons was named Daig.
[224] The period we have been considering
was one of great activity and enterprise among the Gael of Ireland.
That they made settlements in North and South Wales
(Venedotia or Gwynedd and Demetia or Dyfed) is well known.
The Deisi, who were expelled from Meath in the third century, went to Dyfed;
long afterwards they were known to the Irish
as the race of Crimthann (cenél Crimthaind).
The Gael of Gwynedd and Anglesey
were driven out by the sons of Cunedda in the fifth century.
The Irish settlements in the south-west of England
are referred to in the extract given from Cormac's Glossary.
In both regions their presence is attested by Ogham inscriptions.
During the same period they were familiar with North Britain,
and made settlements among the Picts in the midlands of Scotland ;
it would appear, in fact, that they were rather welcomed,
and helped materially to stiffen the native struggle for independence
as well as to join in the raids on Roman Britain.
The Irish Nennius says that the northern Wall
was constructed against the Gael and the Cruithnigh.
The tenor of Patrick's Epistle to Coroticus of Strathclyde
also makes it clear, as Professor Bury has seen,
that the Scots who shared in the booty of Christian captives
taken from Ireland were located in Scotland.
As in Wales a noble family is recorded to have sprung from the exiled Deisi,
so in Scotland there is reason to believe
that the mightiest king of the Picts was sprung from a Munster family
which had settled in the Mearns about A.D. 400.
It would be indeed remarkable if the Irish inroads on Britain in the fourth century
were not accompanied by settlement north of the Wall of Antonine.

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Last Update To This Page 14th November 2004 ©Alan Mitchell Drummie 2004