Duncan I (Dunkeld) of Scotland

Duncan (Dunkeld) of Scotland (1007 - 1040)

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Duncan (Duncan I) "Donnchad mac Crínáin, King of Strathclyde, King of the Scots" of Scotland formerly Dunkeld
Born in Scotlandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married about 1030 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Elgin, Scotlandmap
Profile last modified 5 Nov 2019 | Created 10 Mar 2011
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British Aristocracy
Duncan I (Dunkeld) of Scotland was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.
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Preceded by
Owen the Bald
King of Strathclyde
c1018 - 1034
Succeeded by
Malcolm III
Preceded by
Malcolm II
King of Scots
25 November 1034 - 14 August 1040
Succeeded by



Duncan did not possess political or military acumen.[1] This made him unpopular with subjects and nobility. Killed by Macbeth on August 15, 1040,[1], he is chiefly remembered for Shakespeare's depiction.

The feud between these two might relate to a dispute over succession, but details are obscure. The only certainty is that MacBeth killed Duncan in battle near Elgin, Moray.[2]


Donnchad "the Gracious" mac Crínáin, Rí na h'Alba; Donnchad mac Crínáin (Modern Gaelic: Donnchadh mac Crìonain) anglicised as Duncan I, and nicknamed An t-Ilgarach, "the Diseased" or "the Sick"[citation needed]
b. c.1001[citation needed]
d. 15 Aug 1040 Pitgaveny;[1] or 14 Oct 1043 Bothnagowan.[3]
bur. Iona[1]


  • 1018 - 1034: Duncan of Strathclyde[1]
  • 25 Nov 1034 - 15 Aug 1040: Duncan I 'the Gracious', King of Scotland[1]
  • Duncan Of Scotland CANMORE
  • Governor of Scots Islands and Bethoc of Scotland


Crinan of Atholl, Mormaer of Atholl m.1000 Bethoc of Scotland.[1][4]

Marriage and Issue

m. Suthen or Sybilla (?) circa 1030.[1] Issue:[5]
  • Malcolm III 'Caennmor' (Canmore), King of Scotland (b. c 1031, d. 13 Nov 1093)
  • Donald III 'Donald bane', King of Scotland+ b. c 1033, d. 1099 or (abt 1039 - 1096)
  • Mælmuir Earl of Atholl (?)+ b. c 1035 or (abt 1045-)


1018-1034: King of Strathclyde[6]

before 1034: ruled as rex Cumbrorum in the Kingdom of Strathclyde[citation needed]

1034-1040: King of Scots[7]. succeeds maternal grandfather, Malcolm III. ... "first example of inheritance of the Scottish throne in the direct line", as opposed to previous tanistry system.[citation needed]

1038: attacked by Eadulf of Berncia;[1]Ealdred, Earl of Northumbria, invaded Strathclyde, perhaps in an attempt to wrest it from the Scots.

1039/40: attacked Durham but defeated. Retreated to Moray,[1] but twice defeated by Earl of Orkney's son, Thorfinn, before being killed in battle. He died at Bothnguane.[citation needed][8]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Ashley, 2008
  2. Malcolm violated system of succession where kingship alternated between two branches of the royal family. Duncan succeeded peacefully, but soon faced rivalry of Macbeth, Mormaor (subking) of Moray, who probably had a better claim. Duncan sieged Durham unsuccessfully in 1039 and in the following year was murdered by Macbeth. Duncan's elder son later killed Macbeth and ruled as King Malcolm III Canmore (1058-93).[citation needed]
  3. murdered by MacBeth (Ashley, 2008).
  4. fmg.ac
  5. p. unknown. She has been referred to in connection with Siward of Northumbria ... as a cousin, sister, or daughter. ... (Scottish Regnal List I calls his wife Suthen; John of Fordun calls her kinswoman of Siward Biornsson, Earl of Northumbria; UK's monarch history states she was Siward's cousin).
  6. Paget, n.d., pp153
  7. Tapsell, n.d. pp.180, Weis AR7 170:20; Paget pp.153; Moncreiffe pp.20
  8. 1040: Durham. Like his grandfather's attack in 1006, it ended in disaster, with Scottish forcesfleeing, and Scottish heads decorating the Durham marketplace. This defeat seems to hae weakened his authority so severely that Macbeth of the Cenel Loairn was able to defeat and kill him in battle near Elgin (Davidson 1995[citation needed]


Ashley, M. (2008). A Brief History of British Kings and Queens, (pp.106-107). Philadelphia, PA: Running Press Book Publishers. Print.

The Queen Mother (n.d.). N.p.[citation needed]

Steel, T. (n.d.). Scotlands Story. N.p.

Maclean, F. (n.d.). Scotland, a Concise History. N.p.

Weir, A. (1999). Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy, (pp.179-181). London: The Bodley Head.

Mosley, C. (1999). Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, (106th ed, Vol. 1, pp.13). Crans, SW: Genealogical Books Ltd.

Wikipedia: Duncan I of Scotland


He was son of Crínán, hereditary lay abbot of Dunkeld, and Bethóc, daughter of king Máel Coluim mac Cináeda (Malcolm II).

Unlike the "King Duncan" of Shakespeare's Macbeth, the historical Duncan appears to have been a young man. He followed his grandfather Malcolm as king after the latter's death on 25 November 1034, without apparent opposition. He may have been Malcolm's acknowledged successor or Tànaiste as the succession appears to have been uneventful.[4] Earlier histories, following John of Fordun, supposed that Duncan had been king of Strathclyde in his grandfather's lifetime, between 1018 and 1034, ruling the former Kingdom of Strathclyde as an appanage. Modern historians discount this idea.[5]

An earlier source, a variant of the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba (CK-I), gives Duncan's wife the Gaelic name Suthen.[6] Whatever his wife's name may have been, Duncan had at least two sons. The eldest, Malcolm III (Máel Coluim mac Donnchada) was king from 1058 to 1093, the second Donald III (Domnall Bán, or "Donalbane") was king afterwards. Máel Muire, Earl of Atholl is a possible third son of Duncan, although this is uncertain.[7]

The early period of Duncan's reign was apparently uneventful, perhaps a consequence of his youth. Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findláich) is recorded as having been his dux, today rendered as "duke" and meaning nothing more than the rank between prince and marquess, but then still having the Roman meaning of "war leader". In context — "dukes of Francia" had half a century before replaced the Carolingian kings of the Franks and in England the over-mighty Godwin of Wessex was called a dux — this suggests that Macbeth may have been the power behind the throne.[8]

In 1039, Duncan led a large Scots army south to besiege Durham, but the expedition ended in disaster. Duncan survived, but the following year he led an army north into Moray, Macbeth's domain, apparently on a punitive expedition against Moray.[9] There he was killed in action, at Bothnagowan, now Pitgaveny, near Elgin, by the men of Moray led by Macbeth, probably on 14 August 1040.[10] He is thought to have been buried at Elgin[11] before later relocation to the Isle of Iona.


Duncan was a haemophiliac who bled to death after fighting with MacBeth. In 1034 Malcolm's grandson Duncan I succeeded him, but in 1040 he was killed by Macbeth, who contrary to Shakespearian legend ruled well and wisely for seventeen years, extending Scotland's connections with England and the Continent, until defeated and killed by Duncan's son, Malcolm III, known as Malcolm Canmore.

2 - Duncan's reign was short and unsuccessful. He was killed, probably in battle at Pitgaveny near Elgin, by a rival claimant and cousin MacBeth.

3 - On Malcolm's death in 1034, Duncan became king, the second to rule all Scotland. He was a weaker man than his grandfather, Malcolm II, with less understanding of the vulnerability of his position. The northern Scots, everÙCbÙD ÙC/bÙDon the watch to snatch the throne, tookÙCbÙD ÙC/bÙDadvantage of this weakness. Macbeth, chief of this powerful race, harboured a claim to the throne through his mother. He fought tenaciously, and finally managed to kill Duncan in 1040 becoming King of Scotland in his place. [ An Illustrated History of Scotland by Elisabeth Fraser pub. 1997 ] [6]

Alt. Death 14 Oct 1040 [4]

Buried Isle of Iona, Kilfinichen & Kilvickeon, Argyllshire, Scotland


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DNA Connections
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Comments: 8

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Vitals confirmed by FMG

1) Conform top to Bio 2) Clear suggestion Report https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SCOTLAND.htm#_Toc389122939

posted by Sandy Edwards
Why does the "Owen the Bald" link go to a Supervisor-only page?
posted by William Catambay
Gospatric Northumberland-35 mistakenly appeared as a son of Bethoc (no father) and is a faulty profile. Should not be a brother of Duncan, and should be merged Dunbar-27 to eliminate the bogus profile. unsourced and in error on parents, family
posted by Marty Ormond
According to Foundation for Medieval Genealogy (FMG) Duncan and his wife had three children: Malcolm, Donald and Mælmuir. Is ther real evidence to suggest these other children are his?


posted by Eugene Quigley
Note: Duncan's wife is Sybill or Suthen. Her parents are UNKNOWN but she is often said to be somehow related to Siward of Northumbria... either as a cousin, sister, or daughter. Please do not connect her with Siward.
posted by Bree Ogle
Please unlock this profile by entering a date. He lived over 1,000 years ago. This profile needs to be merged into Dunkeld-8. Thank you.
King of Scotland-46 and Dunkeld-8 appear to represent the same person because: Same person; please merge. Once done, I've proposed merges as well for son and grandson. This one needs to be done first.

Duncan I is 25 degrees from Donald Howard, 20 degrees from Julia Howe and 15 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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