Clans of Scotland

The Scottish clan system has been in place throughout the history of this beautiful and rugged country, with people of Scottish descent identifying with their clan, no matter where they may live in the world. Clans are presided over by a clan chief and each clan has its own unique tartan and coat of arms or heraldry. Clan gatherings, generally with clan members decked out in kilts made of the clan tartan, take place throughout Scotland as well as in other countries where groups of Scottish immigrants may have settled, such as in North America (particularly Canada), Australia and New Zealand.

Initially, clans were identified by the geological area they originated from, with clan chiefs often owning large tracts of land, generally complete with a castle. Clan chiefs of an area often had groups of less affluent, sometimes loosely related families who looked to the clan chief as a leader and protector during the turmoil of the 12th and 13th centuries where skirmishes over territory were common.

As hundreds of years have passed, people have moved around, and many of the castles have changed hands, become hotels, or national monuments and museums cared for by Scottish authorities. Nevertheless, the clan system and the sense of identity it provides, remains alive and well with social events bringing clan members together on a regular basis to celebrate their common ancestry with a deep sense of pride and unity – along with a whole lot of good old merriment.

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