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King of Alba
Reign 967–971
Predecessor Dub
Successor Kenneth II
Died 971
Burial Iona
Issue Constantine III, King of Alba
House Alpin
Father Indulf, King of Alba

Cuilén mac Ildulb (Modern Gaelic: Cailean),[1] sometimes anglicised as Culen or Colin, and nicknamed An Fionn, "the White"[2] (died 971) was king of Scotland (Alba) from 967 to 971.[3] He was one of the three known sons of King Indulf (Ildulb mac Causantín), the others being Amlaíb and Eochaid.

It is supposed that Cuilén was implicated in the death of his predecessor Dub (Dub mac Maíl Coluim), who had defeated Cuilén in battle in 965.[4]

The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba reports several events in the reign of Cuilén. It says that Marcan son of Breodalach was killed in Lothian, that Cellach, Bishop of Cennrígmonaid, and Máel Brigte, also a Bishop, died. Other reported deaths include Domnall mac Cairill and Máel Brigte mac Dubacain, the identities of whom are unknown, but they must evidently have been important men.[5] Máel Brigte might be a son of the Dubacan mac Indrechtaig, Mormaer of Angus, who was killed at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937. Finally, we are told that Leot and Sluagadach went to Rome, presumably on church business.

In 971 Cuilén, along with his brother Eochaid, was killed in a hall-burning in Lothian by Amdarch, a prince of Strathclyde.[6] The killing was said to be revenge for Cuilén's rape of Amdarch's daughter.[7] The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba does not say that he was buried on Iona, but the report of Dub's death makes it clear that this was probably the case.

Cuilén was succeeded by Dub's brother Kenneth II (Cináed mac Maíl Coluim), who was driven from the throne for a short time in the later 970s by Cuilén's brother Amlaíb. Cuilén's son Constantine III (Causantín mac Cuilén) was later king.


  1. Cuilén mac Ildulb is the Mediaeval Gaelic form. The modern form has no patronymic; this is because the name Ildulb ("Indulf") has died out in Gaelic, and there is no modern rendering of it.
  2. Skene, Chronicles, p. 95.
  3. Cuilén is referred to by the Latin calque Caniculus, in some sources; both Cuilén and Caniculus can be taken to mean "little dog". The epithet hringr (as in Sigurd Ring) sometimes associated with Cuilén is thought to be a misreading: compare Smyth, p. 210 and Duncan, pp. 20–21.
  4. ESSH, pp. 471–473; Annals of Ulster, s.a. 965; Duncan, p. 21.
  5. ESSH, p. 475.
  6. Dated by the Annals of Ulster and the Chronicon Scotorum, s.a. 971. The Prophecy of Berchán and one version of the Chronicle are read as placing Cuilén's death in Strathclyde, perhaps near Abington in Upper Clydesdale; ESSH, pp. 476–477 and notes.
  7. ESSH, pp.475–476; one variant of the Chronicle appears to say that Cuilén's daughter, rather than Amdarch's, was raped, another suggests Amdarch's daughter was killed.


For primary sources see also External links below.

  • Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History A.D. 500–1286, volume 1. Reprinted with corrections. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
  • Duncan, A.A.M., The Kingship of the Scots 842–1292: Succession and Independence. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2002. ISBN 0-7486-1626-8
  • Smyth, Alfred P. Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000. Reprinted, Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1998. ISBN 0-7486-0100-7

External links

Died: 971
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Alba
Succeeded by
Kenneth II