Ealdred's father, called "king of the Saxons of the North" by the Annals of Ulster, but only reeve of Bamburgh by the chronicler Æthelweard, died in 913. He may have been ruler of Northumbria following Eowils and Halfdan who were killed at Tettenhall circa 910. It is unknown whether the family had links to pre- or post-Viking kings of Northumbria.
The Historia de Sancto Cuthberto states that Ealdred "was a friend of King Edward the Elder, as his father had been a favourite of King Alfred the Great". Ealdred was driven from his lands, whether all of Northumbria or merely the northern part which had once been Bernicia is debated, by Ragnall ua Ímair, either in or before 914, or alternatively as late as 918. The Historia states that Ealdred sought refuge with Constantín mac Áeda, the king of Scotland, and that the two fought Ragnall at the battle of Corbridge, dated by the Annals of Ulster and the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba to 918. The battle appears to have been indecisive and Ragnall remained the master of at least southern Northumbria, former Deira, or perhaps of all.
Ealdred was a witness to several of Æthelstan's charters issued in southern England in 931 or 932, but he was not recorded thereafter. The Annals of Clonmacnoise record in 934 that "Adulf m'Etulfe king of the North Saxons died", and this may be the only notice of Ealdred's death. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that he was 'probably the father of Oswulf, who later ruled in Northumbria under King Eadred (d. 955).'
| Ruler of Bamburgh
as King of the English