Wife of king Duncan I of Scotland.

The name of Suthen is known only from an interlined addition to a king list contained in an early fourteenth century manuscript ["Malcolin filius Doncath <mater eius Suthen vocatur> xxxvij annis et viij mensibus et interfectus in Inveralden et sepultus in Dunfermelin." Regnal List "I", KKES 284 <words in angle brackets written above "Doncath">]. Duncan has pointed out that the name "Suthen" is Gaelic [Duncan (2002), 37]. Thus, if the name is correct, it would call into question the suggestion that Suthen was a relative of Siward [see below].

Date of Birth: Unknown.
Place of Birth: Unknown.

Date of Death: Unknown.
Place of Death: Unknown.

Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
While a close relationship between Suthen and Siward of Northumbria is plausible enough from the known evidence, such a relationship is not certain. See the Commentary section for further discussion.

Spouse: Donnchad mac Crínáin (Duncan I), d. 14×15 August 1040, king of Scotland.


MALE Máel Coluim mac Donnchada (Malcolm III "Canmore"), d. 13 November 1093, king of Scotland;
m. (1) Ingibjorg Finnsdóttir, d. 18 February before 1058?,
widow of Þorfinnr Sigurðarson (Thorfinn), jarl of Orkney.
m. (2) 1070×1, St. Margaret, d. 1093, daughter of Eadweard "the Exile".

The sources do not state whether or not Suthen was the mother of Duncan's other children, and it is unknown whether or not Suthen was Duncan's only wife. See the page on Duncan I for more details.


Possible relatives:

Edward, fl. 1130, consobrinus David regis, son of Siward.
Evidently relying on a common source, Orderic Vitalis and Robert de Torigny write about Edward, leader of the knighthood of Scotland (called son of a Siward by Orderic), who is called a cousin (consobrinus) of king David of Scotland ["Porro Eduardus, Siwardi filius, qui sub Eduardo rege tribunus Merciorum fuit, princeps militiæ, et consobrinus David regis, ..." OV viii, 22 (vol. 3, p. 404); "Odwardus, consobrinus eius [David] et princeps militis" Chron. Robert de Torigny, s.a. 1130, MGH SS 6: 490]. When Angus, earl of Moray, and Malcolm, illegitimate son of king Alexander I, invaded Scotland in 1130, Edward, as the leader of the knighthood, gathered an army and opposed the enemy. Angus was killed, and Moray was captured for the king [OV viii, 22 (vol. 3, p. 404); Chron. Robert de Torigny, s.a. 1130, MGH SS 6: 489-490].

Siward, fl. 1042×66, tribunus Merciorum.
For chronological reasons, "qui sub Eduardo rege tribunus Merciorum fuit" would evidently refer to Siward, the father of Edward. The interval of time between the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) and 1130 is great enough that Anderson conjectured that Edward may have instead been a grandson of Siward [ESSH 1: 596]. As noted in the following paragraphs, the identification of Siward, tribunus Merciorum, is uncertain.

There are different ways to interpret the evidence regarding Edward and his father Siward, and only one of these would make them relatives of Suthen. Freeman identified Siward, tribunus Merciorum, with Siward Barn and with a Siward son of Æthelgar who is twice mentioned by Orderic Vitalis as being a relative of king Edward the Confessor ["Siwardus et Aldredus, filii Ædelgari, pronepotes regis" OV iv, 1 (vol. 2, p. 166); "Siwardo Edelgari filio, regis Eduardi consanguineo" OV v, 14 (vol. 2, p. 416); Freeman (1870-9), 4: 21; see Searle (1899), 446]. If this identification is correct, then Edward son of Siward would have been related to Edward the Confessor, and his relation to David would then be through David's mother Margaret, a grandniece of Edward the Confessor. In this case, Edward son of Siward would not be related to Suthen.

Another possibility was mentioned by Anderson. After mentioning the identification of Siward, tribunus Merciorum, and Siward son of Æthelgar as a possibility, he stated that Siward, tribunus Merciorum, may "more probably" have been the Siward, sister's son of earl Siward of Northumbria, who was killed in 1054 [ASC(D) s.a. 1054; ESSH 1: 596-7]. If true, this falls in line with the statement of John of Fordun that the mother of Malcom III was a relative of earl Siward.

Which (if either) of these options is true is unclear. It illustrates the problems inherent in trying to deduce exact relationships based on statements that individuals were related.

Possible relative: Siward, d. 1055, earl of Northumbria.
John of Fordun's often unreliable history of Scotland (late fourteenth century) states that the mother of Duncan's sons Malcolm and Donald was a "consanguinia" [sic] of earl Siward ["Genuit autem Duncanus, avi sui diebus, ex consanguinia Sywardi comitis, duos filios, Malcolmum Canmor, latine vero Grossum Caput, et Donaldum Bane, cui Malcolmo Cumbriæ regionem pater statim ut coronatus est donavit." Fordun, iv, 44 (p. 187)]. There is no earlier authority for the statement, although it could be based on a misidentification of Edward's father Siward. There does not appear to be any justification for attempts to define a more specific relationship between Suthen and Siward.

Conjectured father (very doubtful): Owain "the Bald" (Eugenius Calvus), d. 1015×8?, king of Strathclyde.
According to Simeon of Durham, Owain, the last known native king of Strathclyde, was present with Malcolm II at the Battle of Carham, in 1018 ["Ingens bellum apud Carrum gestum est inter Scottos et Anglos, inter Huctredum filium Waldef comitem Northymbrorum, et Malcolmum filium Cyneth regem Scottorum. Cum quo fuit in bello Eugenius Calvus rex Clutinensium.." Sim. Durh., Historia Regum, c. 130, s.a. 1018 (2: 155-6)]. Despite the obvious chronological problem, he is often identified with the Owain whose death is reported by one manuscript of Annales Cambriae in an annal one year before Cnut's assumption of the kingship in England, therefore evidently 1015 ["Owinus filius Dunawal occisus est." AC (Ms. B), 22]. Alan Macquarrie conjectured that Owain was the father of a daughter who married king Duncan I of Scotland and became the mother of Malcolm III [Macquarrie (1993), 6 (gen. table, marked by a "?"), 17]. The only "evidence" for this is the very uncertain claim that Duncan ruled the Cumbrians at some point [see the page of Duncan I]. This apparent desire to maintain genealogical continuity does not give sufficient reason to support this suggestion.


AC = John Williams ab Ithel, ed., Annales Cambriæ (Rolls Series 20, London, 1860).

AT = Whitley Stokes, ed. & trans., ‘The Annals of Tigernach’, Revue Celtique16 (1895), 374-419; 17 (1896), 6-33, 116-263, 337-420; 18 (1897), 9-59, 150-303, 374-91.

Duncan (2002) = A. A. M. Duncan, The Kingship of the Scots, 842-1292 (Edinburgh, 2002).

ESSH = Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1922, reprinted Stamford, 1990). [Contains English translations of many of the primary records]

Fordun = William F. Skene, ed., Johannis de Fordun Chronica Gentis Scotorum (The Historians of Scotland, vol. 1, Edinburgh, 1871).

Freeman (1870-9) = Edward A. Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England (5 vols. + index vol., Oxford, 1870-9).

KKES = Marjorie Ogilvy Anderson, Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland (Edinburgh, Totowa, NJ, 1973).

Macquarrie (1993) = Alan Macquarrie, "The Kings of Strathclyde, c.400-1018", in Alexander Grant & Keith J. Stringer, eds., Medieval Scotland - Crown, Lordship and Community - Essays presented to G. W. S. Barrow (Edinburgh, 1993), 1-19.

MGH SS = Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores series.

OV = Augustus le Prevost, ed. Orderici Vitalis Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ, 5 vols. (Paris, 1838-55); also available in Marjorie Chibnall, ed. & trans., The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 6 vols. (Oxford, 1969-80). As I do not have easy access to all volumes of Chibnall's edition, citations here are given from Prevost's edition.

Searle (1899) = William George Searle, Anglo-Saxon Bishops, Kings and Nobles (Cambridge, 1899).

Sim. Durh. = Thomas Arnold, ed., Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia, 2 vols. (Rolls Series 75, 1882-5).

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 5 August 2001.

Major revision uploaded 20 June 2010.

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