Scotland is home to many famous and ancient clans, of whom some may be descended from, and all of whom have been written about in Scottish literature and history. On our voyage, we visit many of the islands where many famous clans used to live, providing a fascinating historical (and maybe even ancestral) experience! Read on below to find out more about the Clans of Scotland that we will be visiting on our Wild Scotland voyage.
Oban – MacDougall
The countryside surrounding Oban were once the lands of Clan MacDougall. Having the motto “Victory or Death”, it shows the intense and fearless way in which they lived and were able to conquer much of the Hebrides. The name Dougall (Gaelic for dark stranger) came from the son of King Somerled, a great king of the Hebrides. After his death, Dougall held many of the lands that his father had ruled over. Although the clan had a number of castles, the most famous is Dunolie Castle near Oban. Built in the 11th Century, but abandoned 500 years later, standing today as a ruin, it is open to the public and is a must to see when visiting Oban!
Western Isles – MacDonald
In the Western Isles of the Hebrides, the lands were ruled by Clan MacDonald (Gaelic for World Ruler), who had the motto “By sea and by land”. One of the largest clans in Scotland, the MacDougall’s had many branches and was directly descended from King Somerled (King of the Hebrides).In fact, Somerled’s descendant, Donald, would establish the clan and would be the first ‘Lord of the Isles’. They built their main castle and seat, Finlaggen Castle, in the 1300’s on the Isle of Islay and although now lying in ruins, was in use until the 17th century. Although we’re not able to visit the Isle itself, the clan’s influence stretches throughout the Hebrides, and no doubt we will be hear of them in many stories on our voyage!
Isle of Skye – MacLeod
This clan had 2 branches – one from the Isle of Skye and the other from the Isle of Lewis – both of which we will visit on our voyage. Their motto “Hold Fast” reflects their seat (castle) – Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, which remains intact and standing 800 years after it, was built. It is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, and the famous MacLeod “fairy” flag is still kept there to this day, having belonged o Macleod chiefs for 800 years, and was said to have been the bringer of good luck to the clan.
Isle of Lewis – MacAulay
The Isle of Lewis was home to a number of other clans, and among those was Clan MacAulay, whose name translates loosely as “son of Olaf”. The MacAulay clan had 3 branches, all of which were entirely separate to each other, but had a common Norse heritage, being ancestors of Olaf the Black (King of Mann + the Isles). However, recent research has also shown that the clan had Irish origin as well. More tales await on-board our voyage!
Aberdeen – Gordon
Aberdeen’s territory was presided by Clan Gordon, who had Anglo-Norman descent in contrast to the Gaelic clans of the Hebrides. Therefore, as they didn’t have Gaelic Ancestry, they often are referred to as the ‘House of Gordon’. However, the Gordons have claim to many castles, like Craig, Auchindoum, and Gordon Castles, all of which are located in Aberdeenshire. Their coat of arms features a boar, because according to legend, a Gordon saved a Scottish king from being attached by a boar.