Clans of Scotland
Argyll & The Isles has a rich and fascinating past. But perhaps the most colourful – and bloody – aspect of the region’s history was its clan system. By the 13th century the clans had put down firm roots in Argyll & The Isles. They lived off the land, with cattle being their main source of wealth. The most important clan chiefs at this time were part-kings, part-protectors and part-judges and they held real power over their controlled lands.
Today many clans can be traced back to specific parts of Argyll. Below we detail the main clan centres in Argyll & The Isles. These centres are great places to visit if you want to find out more about a particular clan’s heritage or your ancestry and its place in Highland history.
Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell. It's an iconic castle and has wonderful gardens to explore.
Mount Stuart, a spectacular neo-Gothic house, is the ancestral home of the Marquess of Bute. It features magnificent Victorian architecture and design together with stunning craftsmanship.
Dunollie Castle stands guard over Oban Bay. For more than 1000 years, the Clan Chiefs and Lords of Lorn ruled large areas of Argyll and the Isles from Dunollie. Today it remains the seat and ancestral home of Clan MacDougall.
Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull dates back to the 13th century and is the ancestral home of the Clan MacLean. You can find out about the history of the clan, as well as explore the keep and dungeons, magnificent banqueting hall and Edwardian state rooms.
Clan MacDonald (Lord of the Isles)
Finlaggan is an island settlement in Loch Finlaggan on Islay. Finlaggan’s fame peaked in the 14th and 15th centuries when it formed the administrative centre of the Lordship of the Isles.
Glenbarr Abbey on the Kintyre peninsula is an 18th century house and seat of the Clan MacAlister. It also houses the MacAlister Clan Visitor Centre and tours around the house are conducted by Jeanne MacAlister, Lady Glenbarr.
The ruined 13-century Castle Lachlan lies on the eastern shore of Loch Fyne in Cowal. The new Castle Lachlan, about a ten-minute walk away from the ruin, is the seat of Clan MacLachlan.
The ancestral homeland of Clan MacEwen is located in what is known now as Kilfinan and Otter Ferry in Argyllshire on the Cowal Peninsula. The Clan MacEwen Heritage centre offers interesting insights into Clan History and offers a unique range of merch.
Many Argyll clans no longer have clan seats; they were absorbed by larger clans, dispersed or the main family died out. These clans still have strong associations with certain areas of Argyll and you can often find out about them locally.
Clan MacFarlane, for example, is associated with Loch Lomond and the historic clan seat is Arrochar
Clan Lamont is associated with Cowal and the historic clan seat is Ardlamont
Clan McFie is associated with Colonsay
Clan MacPhail with Loch Awe
Clan MacQuarrie with Ulva and Clan MacSween with Knapdale
There are those with clan seats that aren’t open to the public, such as Clan MacCallum of Mid Argyll whose clan seat is Duntrune Castle.