Clans

Scottish_clan

A few years ago, my husband and I went to the Highland Games in Virginia. A beautiful afternoon filled with kilts, tartans, cabor tosses, hammer throws, Scottish deerhounds, bagpipes, and most importantly, deep fried Mars bars. Those things are deliciousness on a stick!mars bar
Seeing all those clan tartans waving proudly in the late October breeze made me really really want to belong to a clan. Lo and behold, several branches back on the old family tree I actually belong to Clan Gordon by way of Aberdeenshire Scotland.

I’m sure you have a notion of what a clan is, but what exactly does it mean? A clan is simply a kinship among Scottish people. Mother, brother, aunt, cousin, etc. It can also include septs which are those related by blood and formed separate divisions, and those who receive protection by the clan. Clans have their own chief, tartan, plaid (yes, there is a difference), coat of arms, motto, and most awesome of all war cry. I really think family war cries should be used more often. Like when someone takes your parking space at the grocery store why not shout out the Armstrong’s words “I remain unvanquished” before speeding off. I may have to do that next time.

Did you know that the idea of clan’s specific tartans with specific lands are a modern notion tartan5from Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott? In fact, most of our notions of what a clan looks like is a romanticized version cemented in the Victorian era when Queen Victoria took interest in the land and adopted Balmoral as her Scottish estate for relaxing far from the pressures of London.

If you want to see if your family or clan is registered then go to the Lord Lyon Court which regulates heraldry in Scotland.


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

21 Comments

  1. Tom Threadgill

    No haggis? Is that even Scottish? And I really need to come up with a war cry. There goes the rest of my day…

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Gah! How could I forget haggis?! It is definitely Scottish though I’ve never partaken. I did have blood pudding. Couldn’t stomach it though. If I’m ever to build my summer home over there I’m gonna have to strengthen my palette.

      Reply
  2. Nancy K. Sullivan

    I’ve been told we have some Scottish heritage. I sure hope so! I’ll check it out. Thanks for a fun and informative post!

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Well, welcome to the clan if you do have heritage. Now all you need is a kilt and you’ll be all set.

      Reply
  3. Karen Campbell Prough

    Ahhh, the name says it all. Yep, the Campbell Clan. Dad loved to tell some of the family stories and show us the research he had acquired.

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Oh man. Campbell is a dangerous name in Scotland. Did your dad ever tell you the dirty history between them and the MacDonald’s?

      Reply
  4. Susan F. Craft

    Brau post, J’nell. My clan’s (Forbes) war cry is “Lonach.” The gathering cry of “Lonach” is the name of a hill in Strathdon where the clan assembled in times of trouble. We often attend the games at Grandfather Mountain, NC. Haven’t been to the games in Charleston, SC, but plan to. I’m a member of the Robert Burns Society, which serves haggis on Burns’s birthday celebration. It’s an acquired taste. 🙂

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Love the connections Susan! And the fact that you’re so versed in your own heritage. I’ve always wanted to go to a Burns Supper, but like you said, haggis is an acquired taste and I’d hate to offend my host.

      Reply
  5. Kathleen Rouser

    Alas, I do not seem to have any Scottish ancestry. The closest I get is Ireland and according to my Ancestry.com DNA, British. However, we do have Highland Games here in Michigan.
    Interesting post about clans and family war cries, J’nell!

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      I’ve got a lot of British, and some Irish too. Being a Celtic culture, I’m sure you can come up with your own war cry for your Irish roots 🙂

      Reply
      1. Kathleen Rouser

        That works! 🙂

        Reply
  6. Patty Wysong

    Blood pudding? No thank you. shiver.
    and yes, I think you DO need to use your war cry next time!! 🙂

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Yeah, don’t recommend the blood pudding unless you’re daring or afraid to insult your host.

      Reply
  7. Karla Akins

    I love kilts! And the Akins clan does have a tartan! 🙂 Of course, I married into the clan, don’t have one of me own. 😉

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Clan through marriage counts. Wave that Akins tartan proud.

      Reply
  8. D.L. Diener

    I think our family claims the Stewart plaid but I can’t tell you why that is. I do have some Scot roots somehow or another (need to talk to my grandfather again). A war cry sounds far more interesting than a coat of arms.

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      The Stewarts are royalty. I’d definitely claim that one!

      Reply
  9. Jessi

    How do I find out where my family lived in scotland

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      The best thing to do is trace your ancestry back to its roots in Scotland, but you have to be diligent as not all surnames mean you come from that one specific region. For example: let’s say you come from the MacDonald clan which was clustered around Glen Coe. That doesn’t necessarily mean your family came from there as there were other MacDonald septs scattered around. Ancestry.com is a great place to start your search.

      Reply
  10. Robbie Bennett

    My great-grandmother’ s name before marriage was Ida Jane McKinley. She was 2nd cousin to US President William McKinley. We know he was of Scotch Irish decent and have traced his lineage to Scotland. I know the McKinley name originated around the present day Perth area in central Scotland. I believe it also mentions the name Rose. I will be in Scotland in March, 2019. How can I do further research into the lineage and also find out clan information, tartan, plaid, etc. I would like to purchase the plaid while there. Thanks for any help you can offer.

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      That’s so awesome that you can trace that much information which really gives you the advantage. Here are some websites I’ve used when doing research on clan info and tartans.
      https://www.scotclans.com/scottish-clans/
      https://www.scotlandshop.com/us/tartan-finder (I’ve ordered from them and they’re fantastic)

      Alba gu brath!

      Reply

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