Dubh (A.K.A Dub mac Maíl Coluim) succeeded Indulf as king of Alba. In older histories his name may be found anglicised as Duff; the modern Gaelic version is Dubh, which has the sense of dark or black. It may be that Dub was an epithet, as the Duan Albanach refers to him as Dubhoda dén, Dubod the vehement or impetuous. He was son of Máel Coluim mac Domnaill and succeeded to the throne when Ildulb mac Causantín was killed in 962.
Although Dubh held the throne for 4-5 years, little is known about his life. The chronicler John Fordun records him as ‘A man of dove-like simplicity, yet the terror of rebels, thieves and robbers’. He goes on to include tales of witchcraft and treason, almost all of this is rejected by modern historians. There are very few sources for the reign of Dub, of which the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba and a single entry in the Annals of Ulster are the closest to contemporary.
The Chronicle records that during Dub’s reign bishop Fothach, most likely bishop of St Andrews or of Dunkeld, died. The remaining report is of a battle between Dub and Cuilén, son of king Ildulb. Dubh won the battle, fought “upon the ridge of Crup”, in which Duchad, abbot of Dunkeld, sometimes supposed to be an ancestor of Crínán of Dunkeld, and Dubdon, the mormaer of Atholl, died.
The various accounts differ on what happened afterwards. The Chronicle claims that Dubh was driven out of the kingdom. The Latin material interpolated in Andrew of Wyntoun’s Orygynale Cronykl states that he was murdered at Forres, and links this to an eclipse of the sun which can be dated to 20 July 966. The Annals of Ulster report only: “Dub mac Maíl Coluim, king of Alba, was killed by the Scots themselves”; the usual way of reporting a death in internal strife, and place the death in 967. It has been suggested that Sueno’s Stone, near Forres, may be a monument to Dub, erected by his brother Cináed. It is presumed that Dubh was killed or driven out by Cuilén, who became king after Dubh’s death, or by his supporters.
Dubh left at least one son, Cináed. Although his descendants did not compete successfully for the kingship of Alba after Cináed was killed in 1005, they did hold the mormaerdom of Fife. Dubh’s descendants, the clann Dubh, (clan MacDuff) held the mormaerdom, and later earldom, until 1371.