Áed mac Cináeda (died 878) was a son of Kenneth MacAlpin (A.K.A Cináed mac Ailpín). He became king of the Picts in 877 when he succeeded his brother Constantine I. Aed was given the nickname Áed of the White Flowers, the Wing-footed or the white-foot.
Aed had inherited a Kingdom in crisis at the point he became King, the Vikings had conquered Pictland. For 2 years the Vikings took anything they wanted; Aed did little to stop them. After stopping Pictland of all they wanted the Vikings moved on, leaving Aed’s Kingdom in ruins. So no surprise when his own followers came into acton with Giric. Giric was one of the Gaelic refugees who had fled from the Vikings east into Pictland. Now Giric climbed his way up into Aed’s favour. Girl was not of Royal stock but was extremely ambitious.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba says of Áed: “Edus (Aed) held the same [i.e. the kingdom] for one year. The shortness of his reign has bequeathed nothing memorable to history. He was slain in the civitas of Nrurim.” Nrurim is unidentified.
In the Prophecy of Berchán’s Kings William Forbes Skene claims that the following verse refers to Aed: 129. Another king will take [sovereignty]; small is the profit that he does not divide. Alas for Scotland thenceforward. His name will be the Furious. 130. He will be but a short time over Scotland. The will be no [word uncertain] unplundered. Alas for Scotland, through the youth; alas for their books, alas for their bequests. 131. He will be nine years in the kingdom. I shall tell you—it will be a tale of truth—he dies without bell, with communion, at evening, in a fatal pass.
A longer account is interpolated in Andrew of Wyntoun’s Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland. This says that Áed reigned one year and was killed by his successor Giric mac Dúngail in Strathallan and other king lists have the same report. Events had come to a head at a sacred site in Perthshire in 878. Giric’s goal was the takeover of the Pictish Kingdom, and if that meant taking out the useless King, so be it.
The Annals of Ulster say that in 878: “Áed mac Cináeda, king of the Picts, was killed by his associates.” Tradition, reported by George Chalmers in his Caledonia (1807), and by the New Statistical Account (1834–1845), has it that the early-historic mound of the Cunninghillock by Inverurie is the burial place of Áed. This is based on reading Nrurim as Inruriu.
Giric instigated a regime change, he rid the court of his Pictish rivals and replaced them with his own men. Then he took control of the Pictish church by employing a gaelic bishop to reform it. This was a coo, his gaelic followers were rewarded with Pictish land. But Giric’s position was far from secure, although he had eliminated Aed the two legitimate heirs were Aed’s 6 year old son Constantine and his teenage cousin Donald still lived. But Constantine and Donald were taken far away for their protection to Ireland where they were looked after by their aunt who was married to a powerful Irish King. Family here proved to be stronger than politics so they were safe even though it was a gaelic Kingdom and these were two Pictish Princess.
Áed’s son, Constantine, became king in 900. The idea that Domnall II of Strathclyde was a son of Áed, based on a confusing entry in the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, is contested.
The reign of Aed and Giric mark Scotland’s lost decade but they were key to the formation of Scotland.