Dunadd (United Kingdom)
The Gaelic Kingdom of Dál Riata and the royal centre of Dunadd is a hill fort set in the green landscape of modern day Argyll, where a footprint in the rock marks the spot where the Gaelic kings were symbolically married to the land they were to rule. Dunadd hill fort is the foundation stone of the Kingdom of the Scots. It was the royal centre of the kingdom of Dál Riata, where the Kings of Scotland and their peoples, the Gaels, gave Scotland its name and Gaelic culture. The Kingdom of Dál Riata once stretched northwards to Ardnamurchen, west to northern Ireland and south to Arran and the Mull of Kintyre. Stone ramparts, the remains of which can be seen today, once surrounded Dunadd. Entry was through a natural cleft in the rock sealed by wooden gates. Beyond the gate were houses and workshops for smelting iron and gold. An important trading centre, many goods flowed through it: gold from Ireland, wine from southern Europe, even rare minerals from the far east used by scribes to color manuscripts. Through a second set of ramparts lay Dunadd's summit and just below the summit, on an outcrop of rock, lies the inauguration stone of the Kings of Dál Riata. A footprint carved into the rock is the most striking symbol of Scottish Kingship. Here the king's of Dál Riata, from Aedan to Kenneth MacAlpine, were inaugurated, their followers gathering below. The King would place his foot in the hole, symbolizing his union with the land. Kingship brought expectations that a new king would bring fertility, bountiful seasons and success in war. The ceremony was partly pagan (a symbolic marriage to the land, with the king's bard reciting his genealogy back to his mythic ancestors) and part Christian (as the kings were blessed by the abbot of Iona).
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