Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Carruthers and Kenneth McAlpin (King of Scots)

Carruthers and the descendancy from Kenneth MacAlpin, King of Scots

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Kenneth II

Accuracy, tenacity and solid evidence are the bedrock of any historical research, otherwise it simply becomes hypothetical and conjecture, which in itself leads to statements that are sadly false.

The questions that continually arise relates to our family and their relationship with historical figures, usually of some famous royal heritage and in this instance Kenneth MacAlpin, king of Scots.

In order to investigate this further we need to look at the evidence regarding the possibility of any links between Carruthers and king Kenneth II (MacAlpin).

The facts suggest that: 

1.) Kenneth MacAlpin, King of Alba (died 995, Fettercairn, Scot.) was king of the united Picts and Scots (from 971). His new kingdom was called Scotia (Alba in Gaelic). He was king of Dál Riata from 841 until 850. His father was Ailpín MacEchdach, who was killed during a battle against the Picts in 834, and some historical sources suggest that his mother was a Pictish princess. Kenneth himself was of proud Gaelic descent ie a Gael from what is now Ireland, and it seems took descendancy from ancient Irish kings.

2.) However, as has been clearly defined in the past, Carruthers were definately not Gaels but maternally Brythonic and paternally Scandinavian in origin. 

3.) Carruthers are, through accurate yDNA testing, clearly descended from a Swedish male line (but no evidence of Gutland) who appeared in the area of Carruthers in the early 900’s. As it was unusual for Swedes, rather than Norse (Norway) or Danes (Denmark) who had invaded and settled in the UK to appear in Dumfriesshire of all places, we are not quite sure how he actually got there.

4.) What we are sure of is he had children with the indigenous population (of Brythonic descent), which started our chiefly line and led to the first recorded ‘Carruthers’ ie William of Carruthers, in the reign of Alexander II (1214-1249).

5.) It also seems that there is no actual DNA sample in existance from Kenneth MacAlpin.

6.) However, DNA evidence among many Scottish surnames strongly linked to MacAlpin suggests that Kenneth’s Dál Riata lineage has been identified as SNP R-L1065— SNP L1065 (aka CTS11722 & S749, consistent with STR profile known as Scots I Modal).

7.) Surnames associated with this SNP are… MacGregor, MacRae, Campbell, Buchanan, MacKinnon, MacFie, MacQuarrie.— McGregor being the most prevalent.

8.) Y-DNA evidence suggest that the R-L1065 SNP of the Highland Scots are descendants of the Dál Riata from Ireland, while Carruthers are lowland Scots and descendants of Scandinavia as stated above.

9) The R-Haplogroup (MacAlpin) wasn’t even seen in Europe until 3,000 BC, while the I-Haplogroup (Carruthers) has been there since 8,000 BC

In conclusion, it is just not feasable for Carruthers to claim descendancy from Kenneth MacAlpin nor any Irish kings through him.  Beside current history, yDNA research has clearly shown that genetically, Carruthers do not sit downstream of Kenneth MacAlpin. 


But who was Kenneth MacAlpin?

According to Scotlands History:

IMG_1362One figure looms large in Scottish history. A king who united Scotland and fought off the Norse invaders to save his country from doom. That man was Kenneth MacAlpin.

The problem with this heroic tale is that it bears little relation to the known facts. A further problem is that there are very few known facts. What we do know is further compounded by confusing and contradictory accounts and a fair degree of myth and legend.

Kenneth was born around 800AD in the Gaelic Kingdom of Dál Riata at a time when the Gaels were dominated by the more powerful Pictish kingdom. His father, Ailpín, was beheaded fighting for a Pictish king and historical sources suggest that his mother was a Pictish princess.

In the confusion and terror caused by the ferocious ninth century Viking raids, the Pictish kingship was almost completely destroyed in 839 AD.

It is at this point that Kenneth appears in the annals. In the power vacuum left as a result of the Viking slaughter of the Pict royal line MacAlpin sees off competitors to become King of Picts. Some accounts allude to Kenneth killing Pict rivals for the throne though this account is of dubious origin.

What is fairly clear is that at some point between 839 and 848 AD Kenneth (with blood claims to both thrones) claims the kingdoms of the Picts and the Gaels.

Screen Shot 2021-04-18 at 15.38.06.pngAs Kenneth MacAlpin triumphed in Pictland, he faced a new challenge. A Viking fleet of 140 ships intent on destruction attacked Dál Riata. It spelled doom for the Gaelic kingdom; the Gaels collected the relics of their saints and moved them to Kenneth’s new Pictish kingdom. Dál Riata vanishes from the chronicles and we only hear of Pictland from this point.

Kenneth was able to reward his Gaelic followers with lands taken from the men who supported his rivals, but he no doubt faced resentment from the Picts over their new Gaelic overlords. Unity was needed: something the Picts and Gaels had in common, to define them as a single people, and, as is so often the case throughout history, this came in the form of a common enemy. Kenneth raided the Angles of Northumbria for booty.

A piece by Dauvit Broun in the Oxford companion of British History goes on to state: He (Kenneth MacAlpin) repeatedly raided northern England and attacked the Britons of Strathclyde, who defeated him at ‘Moin Uacornar’ (unidentified). His rule over Lothian was recognized c.975 by Edgar, king of England. (However this clearly shows that Kenneth’s rule and control did not reach,what was to become the Borders of Scotland (lands of Carruthers)

It is likely, however, that Lothian was lost to the Earls of Northumbria in the last year of his reign. He met his end at Fettercairn (30 miles south of Aberdeen), assassinated by the daughter of the Earl of Angus in revenge for the killing of her only son. It is possible that his wife was a daughter of one of the Uí Dúnlainge kings of Leinster (Ireland). He founded (or refounded) a monastery at Brechin, probably the community of céli Dé (‘clients of God’) attested in later record.

The true legacy of Kenneth MacAlpin is of course that he founded a dynasty that would see the unification of the Pictish and Gaelic kingdoms evolve into a new entity – the Kingdom of Alba. This embryonic kingdom would become the country we now know as Scotland.


Sadly however, the claim (like many others beforehand) that Carruthers are descended from King Kenneth MacAlpin is invalid, as is Carruthers being descended from the ancient kings of Ireland. Based on the facts above there is obviously no real evidence to support that this is the case and clearly these claims should be ignored.


Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote 2021

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