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Reuther, King of Scots

© 2018 by Rutherglen Heritage Society. 


The tradition is that the Rutherglen was named after Reuther, an early King of Scots.

At that time, the country was shared by the Scots of the North West, the Picts of the

North East, the Britons of Strathclyde in the South West and the Anglo-Saxons of Lothian in the South East.

When Reuther’s father the King of Scots died, Reuther was too young to succeed him

and his uncle Nothanus was elected king. He proved to be a tyrant who exiled or

murdered many of his nobles. One of them, Dowall, rebelled and killed the king and

made Reuther king. Ferquast, Nothanus’ brother in law responded by leading his

followers against Dowall but was defeated and fled to the Hebrides.

Dowall returned, supported by many Irish warriors and met Ferquast in a particularly

bloody battle. Both leaders were killed but the battle was inconclusive. Ferquast's supporters took Reuther off to Orkney.


Left, portrait entitled 'Reuther. Son of Dornadilla. King of Scots'. Image credit: National Galleries of Scotland.

At this stage, the two factions were exhausted and the Strathclyde Britons took the opportunity to invade and occupy Scotland. Reuther returned but the Britons besieged his forces at Bergonia. Just as they were running out of food, Reuther send out a group of one hundred warriors to divert the attention of the Britons. Under cover of this, most of his force escaped to lreland.

Reuther returned twelve years later, and with the support of the Picts and Anglo-Saxons drove the Britons out of Scotland. The site of the battle was later named the Glen of Reuther. This was followed by a period of relative peace for over two hundred years.

This account was written by Boece, a medieval historian and is a vivid account of the bloody conflict between races which led to the early formations of Scotland. The story enhances the status of Rutherglen as a place in the early history of Scotland. Boece, hower is notorious for inaccuracy and exaggeration and the story of Reuther is no more reliable than those about King Arthur or Robin Hood.

Background map by Timothy Pont c. 1583-96, reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

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