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Determining Which Scottish Clan you Belong To

Replies: 25

Re: Determining Which Scottish Clan you Belong To

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 6:05AM GMT
Classification: Query
Gordon,

My intervention was on behalf of a lady from the US who I felt was being bullied by a few people with a little more knowledge than she had. I became concerned when she seemed to sigh and give up on line. My personal views were irrelevant, what mattered was my ability to offer an informed but different point of view.

I believe the whole concept of clans, lairds and powerful families in Scotland changed in different regions over time and time is meaningless to many researchers. They have a 'Brigadoon' vision of a charming highland village (which we know never existed) preserved in aspic, where rosy faced boys and girls and their healthy grey haired seniors danced reels and sung songs after a hard days farming or fighting in exciting but safe inter- clan warfare. I completely understand that historians and 'serious' family historians can become very frustrated by this strange concept, which more often than not, exists among our American cousins. However,

On the other hand I have met and debated with some American cousins who are extremely serious scholars, working almost solely from original sources, supported by a post graduate level of general Scottish History who can show clear descent from tacksmen of the Macdonald, Cameron and other clans who can prove their relationship to living Highland chieftains and who know and are entertained by those same members of Scotland's aristocracy, when they visit their country of origin. These people can trace and explain the ruins of family fortresses and poses scraps of letters from their ancestors who migrated to our American colonies before they became independent. They have also traced documents in historical records in Scotland relating to the executions and deportations of their distant relatives. These people are active in their clan societies and in coordinating highland gathering and are very capable of helping anyone interested in tracing their Highland ancestors.

The fact that I know these people does not mean that I share their view of Scottish History, which I believe is distorted by time and space. They view Scotland from the perspective of a Highland supporter of Charles Edward Stewart in post - 1745 Scotland. I on the other hand completely support the benefits of 408 years of Regal Union from 1603 and, 304 years of Political Union from 1707, the contribution of Scots to the British Empire and the contribution of the Empire to Scotland. However, I sometimes wonder if in moving to London some years ago I lost touch with Modern Scotland since I cannot understand the phenomenon that is 21st Century Scottish Nationalism therefore I am perhaps also beginning to set in aspic.

Returning to your original comments and the pace of clan development, I think you will agree that Scotland's regions reflect the different people and tribal federations which are their basis. South Western Scotland, once the Kingdom of Strathclyde, was peopled by close relatives of the people we now call Welsh and their capital was Dunbarton on the River Clyde. Their original language if it still existed would be close to Welsh or Ancient British but this was replaced by a form of English known as Scots. This region was central to Scotland's growth and development where the Earls of Lennox were dominant in the centuries after the end of the Kingdom of Strathclyde and the beginning of Bruce's Scotland. Interestingly, families sponsored by the Earl of Lennox went north to become progenitors of what we now call clans, these include Buchanan, Colquhoun, Macaulay, Macfarlane and Mackinlay. They are an early example of leaders from more sophisticated parts of Scotland moving north and adopting clan culture to some degree. The Anglo-Normans I referred to in earlier correspondence did the same.

In South Eastern Scotland the Britons of the kind who retained Strathclyde were displaced by Angles who took over the ancient kingdom of Gogodin, presumably a later word for the Votadini we know of from Roman maps. This Anglicisation of the region was presumably strengthened when Anglo-Saxon noblemen followed Queen Margaret, later Saint Margaret to Scotland almost
1000 years ago to escape the Norman Conquest of England. Malcolm her husband gave many of them land in this region.

Above the rivers Clyde and Forth was a different land - once known as Alba - where Picts were the dominant tribal federation until the Scots invaded from the West. Tradition holds they came from Ireland - others argue that they settled North East Ireland (now Ulster) and Dalriada (now Argyle) at the same time. How the king of these Scots became King of the Picts and ruler of Alba is a mystery but it happened and the Picts and Scots of Alba came together to protect themselves from the 'Viking ' threat. Descendants of these Kings of Scots acquired Strathclyde( South West Scotland) and Lothian (South East Scotland) and inter-married with Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Normans eventually becoming Bruce's and then Stewarts.

In due course the fertile eastern part of Alba was colonised by the lieutenants of these kings leaving the mountains of the West to those of Scotto-Pictish origins who by this time had been thoroughly colonised and dominated by those of Viking descent. These Highlands were the home of Scots who lived with a combination of feudal and tribal loyalties and fell centuries behind their fellow Scots in other regions, in terms of social organisation. This eventually had tragic consequences, romanticised by Scot and now by Americans but much more seriously by Scottish nationalists intent on making Scotland's successful regions believe they shared the fate of these romantic losers.

The Border families were quite different. They were tough frontiersmen living on the raid and sometimes war torn border with England. They were horsemen and they owned and used armour and weapons appropriate to their period and did not charge naked or semi naked down hills as their wide painted ancestors had in the time of the Romans - a tactic Highlanders used into the 18th Century.

John



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SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Trena_Heater 20 Jul 2013 11:47PM GMT 
elwynsoutter1 12 Jul 2011 7:27AM GMT 
Meghan Wyandt 12 Jul 2011 4:47PM GMT 
John Shearer 14 Jul 2011 12:05PM GMT 
Trena_Heater 20 Jul 2013 11:43PM GMT 
mi2early 12 Jul 2011 2:10PM GMT 
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