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The Northumbrians continued to dominate southern Scotland for the remainder of the Pictish period.
Dál Riata was subject to the Pictish king Óengus mac Fergusa during his reign (729–761), and though it had its own kings beginning in the 760s, does not appear to have recovered its political independence from the Picts.
For most of Pictish recorded history the kingdom of Fortriu appears dominant, so much so that king of Fortriu and king of the Picts may mean one and the same thing in the annals.
This was previously thought to lie in the area around Perth and southern Strathearn; however, recent work has convinced those working in the field that Moray (a name referring to a very much larger area in the High Middle Ages than the county of Moray) was the core of Fortriu.
Bureaucratic kingship was still far in the future when Pictland became Alba, but the support of the church, and the apparent ability of a small number of families to control the kingship for much of the period from the later 7th century onwards, provided a considerable degree of continuity.
In much the same period, the Picts' neighbours in Dál Riata and Northumbria faced considerable difficulties, as the stability of succession and rule that previously benefited them ended.
Where they lived and what their culture was like can be inferred from the geographical distribution of brochs, Brittonic place name elements, and Pictish stones.
Archaeology gives some impression of the society of the Picts. Foster noted, "Much ink has been spilt over what the ancient writers meant by Picts, but it seems to be a generic term for people living north of the Forth–Clyde isthmus who raided the Roman Empire." In writings from Ireland, the name Cruthin, Cruthini, Cruthni, Cruithni or Cruithini (Modern Irish: Cruithne) was used to refer both to the Picts and to another group of people who lived alongside the Ulaid in eastern Ulster. At that time, the Gaels of Dál Riata controlled what is now Argyll, as part of a kingdom straddling the sea between Britain and Ireland.The Viking Age brought great changes in Britain and Ireland, no less in Scotland than elsewhere, conquering and settling the islands and various mainland areas, including Caithness, Sutherland and Galloway.In the middle of the 9th century Ketil Flatnose is said to have founded the Kingdom of the Isles, governing many of these territories, and by the end of that century the Vikings had destroyed the Kingdom of Northumbria, greatly weakened the Kingdom of Strathclyde, and founded the Kingdom of York.Pictland, also called Pictavia by some sources, gradually merged with the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata to form the Kingdom of Alba (Scotland).
Alba then expanded, absorbing the Brittonic kingdom of Strathclyde and Northumbrian Lothian, and by the 11th century the Pictish identity had been subsumed into the "Scots" amalgamation of peoples.De Situ Albanie, a late document, the Pictish Chronicle, the Duan Albanach, along with Irish legends, have been used to argue the existence of seven Pictish kingdoms.