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Six of these local rulers are for the first time called "comes" in the foundation charter of the monastery of Scone dated [1114/15].According to Skene, the relationship between these rulers and their provinces was not purely territorial but connected with the tribes which occupied the land.No primary source is cited in support of these statements and it is possible that this marriage, and the supposed parentage of the bride, are entirely speculative, in an attempt to explain the transmission of the half of the earldom of Caithness to Earl Magnus (see below).Skene says that "the probability is that the half of Caithness which belonged to the Angus family was that half possessed by the earls of the line of Erlend, and was given by King Alexander with the title of Earl to Magnus, as the son of one of Earl Harald "Ungi"s sisters" and that "the Norwegian name of Magnus indicates that [Earl Magnus] had a Norwegian mother".
According to the Complete Peerage, Gillbride Earl of Angus married as his second wife "the heiress of the earls of Caithness", in another passage stating that she was "sister of Harald Ungi Earl of Caithness".
The chapters on the Scottish earls and lords which are set out below are arranged in approximately chronological order of creation of the titles.
The first group of seven earldoms, Angus, Atholl, Caithness, Fife, Mar, Moray and Strathearn, corresponds to the seven provinces into which Scotland north of the Firths of Forth and Clyde was divided in the 9th century, reputedly ruled by seven brothers.
It was presumably after , the date of a charter under which Alexander II King of Scotland donated revenue from mills in Invernarn to the bishopric of Moray which was witnessed by "M comite de Anegus et Katania".
Although the name of the witness is given only in abbreviated form, the reference to the county of Angus suggests that it must be Malcolm Earl of Angus who is shown above.
During the 10th century the province of Argyll was added, and in the 11th century Buchan separated from Mar, while Caithness was conquered by the Norwegians.