December 2011

Clans of Scotland: The Campbells

"Never Trust a Campbell"

It's a saying in Scotland even today- “Never trust a Campbell.” The infamous Campbells are the clan everyone loves to hate, the black sheep of Scottish history. There are two reasons for this sinister reputation.


One is simply that the Campbells had a real knack for picking the right side at the right time. They weren't the sorts to pick the doomed yet idealistic crusade- they'd size up the odds correctly and back the winner every time.

Clans of Scotlland: The Kerrs

Left-Handed Warriors

In Scotland, the term “clan” was not only applied to the Gaelic kinship groups of the Highlands, but to a similar yet distinct society that developed along the Anglo-Scottish border. This was the culture of the Border reivers or “raiders,” and the outlaw families that thrived along the border were known at the time as “clans” just as surely as their equivalents up north.

Clans of Scotland: The MacDonalds

And the Campbell/MacDonald Feud

When we think of a Scottish clan, we normally think of a small, decentralized family-based unit. The mighty Clan MacDonald wasn't really much like this. It was more like a small nation in its own right, able to put several thousand soldiers on the battlefield, negotiate on an equal basis with the kings of nations, and rule the Irish Sea with a massive armada of war galleys.


The MacDonalds were the rulers of the Lordship of the Isles, but they retained much of their power even after the Lordship was destroyed. However, the central power of the Lordship was lost, and Clan MacDonald broke down into several factions including Clan Donald North and Clan Donald South.

Clans of Scotland: The MacGregors

"MacGregor Despite Them"

“It was ordained that the name of MacGregor should be abolished and that the whole persons of that name should renounce their name and take some other name and that they nor none of their name and that they nor none of their posterity should call themselves Gregor or MacGregor under pain of death .... that any person or persons of the said clan who has already renounced their names or hereafter shall renounce their names or if any of their children or posterity shall at any time hereafter assume or take to themselves the name of Gregor or MacGregor .... that every such person or persons assuming or taking to themselves the said name .... shall incurr the pain of death which pain shall be executed upon them without favour.”