Hallin Cottage, Waternish, Isle of Skye, Scotland
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walking accommodation isle of skye

walking accommodation isle of skye

walking accommodation isle of skye, western isles of Scotland, Holiday let Waternish, Family vacation to Isle of Skye

In the early 12th Century, a marked difference between the Highlands and Lowlands that was developing was that the Highlanders remained largely unaffected by t he spread of feudalisation, which was a notable feature of the Lowlands, while the Highlanders held their land as a clan, appointing their chieftains by popular vote (at least in theory!). Certainly the earliest clan chieftains can be traced back to the twelfth century. Somerled, son of Gillebride, who drove the Norse out of Lochaber, Morvern, and the north of Argyll after the death of Magnus Barefoot, was the founder of the powerful clan Donald. The history of the MacDonalds dominates the early events in teh Highlands. They became kings of the Isles and the Isle of Man, lords of the Isles, and the earls of Ross. At one period their power was almost equal to that of the Scottish king and they were involved in warfare against him. Eventually their power was broken and their territory dwindles to include Kintyre, the Isle of Islay, parts of Skye, and parts of the mainland, including Ardmamurchan and Glencoe. Somerled’s son Dougall was the founder of the Clan MacDougall centred on Oban.

The clans tended to be founded in certain areas, grouped initially around a leader in that eara. Thus Cormac, the Celtic bishop of Dunkeld, appointed by Alexander I, in 1107 had six sons to each of whom he granted church lands and it is claimed that each was the founder of a clan. Guaire was the progenitor of the Macquarries in Ulva, Fingon of the Mackinnons in Mull, Gilchrist of Anrias of teh Macgregors in Glenorchy, and Ferchar of the Mackenzies and the MacPhees in Applecross.

For various reasons, of course, a clan might move, or be forced to move from its original area. Shortage of good agricultural land, famine, or disease were all reasons for such movements. As branches, or septs, of the clan prospered elsewhere and the original line declined in power, so the clan might move its ground. They might also be driven out of their land by a more powerful neighbour. On occasions also the government might take a hand. Thus, Malcolm IV, who succeeded to the throne of Scotland at the age of twelve in 1153, was responsible in 1160 for moving the Mackays, the old royal house of Moray, after dissension in that area, en masse to Ross-shire, whence they were given lands in the north-west of Sutherland by the bishop of Caithness and duly prospered exceedingly.

When surnames came to be introduced, the form Mac, or ‘son of,’ was added to the original name. Thus the son of Donald became MacDonald. This was in effect a variant of the Irish habit of adding Ua, or O’ to the surname. The same meaning was intended, thus the son of Hagan became O’Hagan. It was not until the twelfth century that names began to become important in the Highlands as the clans were formed and in general the tendency was for those without a name to take that of their clan chief or of their most powerful neighbour to ensure his protection.

There were, naturally enough, numerous clans which originated from the descendants of the Dalriadic Scots. The MacAlpins were, of course, Celtic in origin with their clan seat originally at Dunstaffnage and later east of Loch Awe. The Macleods, established on the mainland below the Kyle of Lochalsh, were definitely Norse in origin, being descended from Magnus, the last King of the Isle of Man. There were other clan origins, naturally enough, such as that of the Leslies, who can trace their descent back to Bartolf of Hungary, who came over with Margaret.
Mary Branson, 23 Langside Avenue, London SW15 5QT
Tel/Fax: 020 8876 3054     Mobile: 07836 521103     mf.branson@virgin.net
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