NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia


Ulster is one of the four historic provinces of Ireland and is now divided between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Ulster is located in the northern part of the island of Ireland.

Ulster | 1st century BC – 9th century AD

Pre-Christian Period | 1st century BC – 5th century AD
Ulster, like the rest of Ireland, was inhabited by Celtic peoples during the Iron Age. The inhabitants of Ulster were the Ulaidh or Ulster Cycle, one of the major Celtic tribal groups. These Celtic tribes were organized into small kingdoms, with the province of Ulster being divided into several smaller territories, often ruled by local chieftains.

Contact with the Roman Empire was limited, and Ulster maintained its distinct Celtic culture.

Arrival of Christianity | 5th – 6th centuries
The introduction of Christianity to Ulster and Ireland as a whole is traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick in the fifth century. He is said to have undertaken missionary work, converting the population to Christianity. Monastic settlements and religious communities, known as monastic schools, began to emerge in Ulster and other parts of Ireland. These centers of learning played a vital role in preserving and spreading Christian teachings and knowledge.

Viking Incursions | 8th – 9th centuries
The eighth century marked the beginning of Viking raids and incursions along the Irish coastline, including Ulster. These Vikings, who were of Norse and Danish origin, targeted monastic communities, riches, and settlements. The Vikings established longphorts (fortified bases) in areas like Belfast and Downpatrick, exerting influence and control over parts of Ulster. The presence of the Vikings brought elements of Scandinavian culture, trade, and commerce to Ulster.

Kingdoms and Territories
Ulster, like the rest of Ireland, was divided into smaller regional kingdoms, with tribal and regional rulers exercising authority. These regional kings often ruled from hillforts and local centers. Notable among the regional kingdoms in Ulster was the Kingdom of Ulaidh, with its capital at Emain Macha (Navan Fort) in present-day County Armagh.

See also
Aedán mac Gabráin | The Legend of King Arthur
Cnychwr | The Legend of King Arthur
Conchobar | The Legend of King Arthur
Dechtire | The Legend of King Arthur
Denmark | The Legend of King Arthur
Gawain of Orkney – The Beheading Contest | The Legend of King Arthur
Norway | The Legend of King Arthur
Saint Columba | The Legend of King Arthur
Saint Monenna | The Legend of King Arthur