The Celts of the West

The ancient story of early Scotland will not be fully told until much more study has been completed, The face of the land literally is pockmarked with the remains of settlements and dwellings—many unexcavated—raised in an age so remote from our own, we scarcely know the names of the races that inhabited them. Riddles there are in abundance; answers to these riddles may not be discovered until future archaeologists supply them. Perhaps some of the ancient enigmas never will be satisfactorily explained. Into this seemingly unfruitful field ventures Ronald Williams; and the result, The Lords of the Isles, proves to be a work of unusual interest and insight.

Williams begins his study with the founding in A.D. 500 of the Celtic kingdom of Dalriada (an area of land corresponding roughly to the western parts of present-day Argyllshire) by a force of Irish Scotti. It was from the leader of this host which established itself in Dalriada, one Fergus Mac Ere, that the chiefs of the Clan Donald claimed their descent. For nearly a thousand years the Lords of the Isles (as they liked to style themselves) held sway over a great sweep of territory in the far northwest of Scotland, ruling for the most part as potentates quite independent of the Scottish crown. Not until late in the 15th century was the power of the Lordship broken and its vast and scattered island patrimony forfeited to the crown. It is the story of the...

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