The Chronicle of Ken Muir
SCOTLAND IN 1171
KINGS AND LORDS
King William “The Lion” is the current king of Scotland. He inherited the throne from his older brother, Mael Coluim IV, who in turn had inherited it from his Grandfather, David I.
The Kingdom of Scotland only encompasses a portion of what is Scotland today. Some of the kingdom was ruled directly by the king, but many territories were ruled by hereditary chieftains known as mormaers. The lands outwith the Kingdom of Scotland, such as Galloway and The Isles, were ruled by a variety of independent small kings or lords.
THE ROYAL COURT
The King is attended at court by a variety of nobles, including the various mormaers, the lesser kings of surrounding lands who have sword allegiance, landed knights in the king’s service, and the immediate family of any of the above. Those who have specific roles in the running of the Kingdom are known as the officers of Scotland.
THE GAELIC CLANNS AND NAMING CONVENTIONS
The Ceann Cineail is the ‘Head of the Kindred’, or the chief of the kinship group. The kindreds are what will eventually become known as ‘the clanns’.
It was King William’s grandfather, David I, who initiated the practice of settling the land of Scotland with knights in the Norman fashion. Most of the landed knights were either Norman or Anglo-Norman and they were given the right to rule and develop a piece of land in exchange for certain services. The vast majority of settled knights in Scotland are located in the south in lands that once belonged to one of several native British or Anglian kingdoms.
Burghs are chartered towns and are a relatively new phenomenon in Scotland. Most of the early Burghs were established by David I in or short after 1124, though some claim older establishment. Burghs have the special privilege of holding their own market and are exempt from certain fees and taxes. Royal Burghs, that is those chartered directly by the king, are also protected by a castle and garrison, which remains the property of the king.
Touns are communities of similar or smaller size to burghs, but lack their special status and privileges. Vills are the smallest communities, usually little more than a collection of stone houses with thatched roofs.
The church was somewhat less rigidly organized in Scotland than in other places. The various bishops (Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Dunkeld being the most prominent) divided control of the church between themselves. Abbeys, priories, and Nunneries dotted the land, with more being founded all the time by various nobles seeking divine favour. Local churches were relatively few and were run by one of the monasteries. Itinerant priests also trod the land, bringing religion to the smaller communities and preaching at the cross.
The two most important aspects of Scottish culture are oral storytelling and music. Storytelling is important not only for entertainment, but for genealogies as well. Professional storytellers plied their trade from court to court. In music, the harp was the primary instrument, along with the tympanum. In Scotland (unlike Ireland) the crwth, or crowd, depicted to the right, was also used.