The Clan MacLeod ruled the wild, mountainous, and very beautiful islands on the northwestern edge of Scotland – Skye, Lewis, Harris, and Raasay. The clan descends from seafaring Norse Kings, and its rich history stretches back over 800 years. Clan MacLeod is one of Scotland’s most celebrated Highland clans with close historical links to the Isle of Skye. There are two main branches of the clan: the MacLeods of Dunvegan, Harris, and Glenelg, whose chief is MacLeod of MacLeod (known in Gaelic as Siol Tormoid), and the MacLeods of Lewis, Assynt, and Raasay, whose chief is MacLeod of The Lewes (known in Gaelic as Siol Torquil). Both branches descend from Leod, who was a younger son of Olaf the Black, one of the last Norse Kings of Man who died in 1265 when the Hebrides were ceded to Scotland. By his marriage to the daughter of the Norse Seneschal on Skye (MacRald Armuial), he was granted lands such as Glenelg, Duirinish, Minginish, Bracadale, Lyndale, and Dunvegan Castle, which has been the home for chiefs ever since. When Leod died in 1290, his lands were divided between his sons, forming two branches of the family that endured through centuries, surviving extreme periods of feast, famine, warring with neighboring clans, and colossal social, political, and economic changes that the Highlands and Islands passed through. It was only during the last century that the Clan Diaspora began regrouping around Chief Dame Flora, encouraging Clansfolk to reconnect with their ancestral homelands. This culminated in the first Clan Parliament held in the presence of HRH Her Majesty Queen in 1956. These gatherings have been held at Dunvegan Castle ever since, and Clansfolk return from all over the world every four years to celebrate their shared ancestry.
To learn more about global Associated Societies, please visit www.clanmacleod.org, a good place to start your tour of sights in Inverness, the beautiful capital of the Highlands. You can visit the museum, art gallery, and enjoy an excellent introduction to the area. A short journey to Culloden battleground will take you back in time to the year 1746, where you can see the story of the bloody battle vividly brought to life on the fields of April 1746. During the Bonnie Prince Charlie Jacobite rebellion, supported by MacDonalds, government forces were crushed, and as a consequence, the MacLeod branch suffered severe retribution from the Hanoverian government for lending support to the rebellion.
The Bloody Stone on Skye should be your first stop. It marks the site of the last battle fought by the MacDonalds in 1601. Further north, lies the picturesque harbor village of Portree, where Bonnie Prince Charlie bade his final farewell, and Flora MacDonald helped him escape capture following the defeat at Culloden. Dunvegan Castle gardens in the west cannot be missed, the ancestral stronghold of the Chiefs for 800 years, and something mystical about the flat-top mountains of Healaval More and Healaval Bheag, known as “the tables.” The story goes that Alasdair Crotach, the 8th Chief, set out to feast and win a wager with King James V, attempting to suppress the power of the Hebridean clans. His talent for diplomacy saved him, and the stunning view from the Tables is breathtaking. From here, head north to Trump and just reach the ruined church site of another 1579 almost worshiping killed, the survivor
escaped and fetched help, but revenge was taken, and the old stone wall piled with corpses is now known as the Spoilt Dike.
Take a short ferry to the small, characterful island Torquil, occupied by descendants who lived there for several hundred years. The village of Northton Taobh Tuath is a treasure trove for historians, with the Seallam Visitor Centre and genealogy centre containing records from every Western Isle for some 200 years. In the northern part of the largest Scottish realm, Torquil’s Stornoway was established almost 1,000 years later and captured by Viking ancestors. Soak up the local culture while enjoying a drink or meal and join in the fun ceilidh. You will certainly hear locals speaking Gaelic, and the famous movie and recent TV series Highlander, about the immortal swordsman Connor MacLeod, were also filmed on location in the area.
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