The Clans and Tartans of Inverness

The clans of Scotland were kinship groups, which occupied the land for hundreds of years. Each clan occupied an area of territory, often led by a Clan Chief. The people who lived and worked there pledged allegiance to the Chief and lived under his rule and protection. Some would even often adopt his surname. Each clan had its own tartan, with a unique checked design. This would be woven in fabric and worn by clan members to show their allegiance. Although the old clan system ended in the 18th century, the clans still exist in modern form. Those with a clan surname or close links to one are considered members. We often welcome guests to Ness Walk who are here to research their Scottish ancestry. So let’s take a look at some of our local Inverness clans and how you can explore your connections…

Finding your clan and tartan

A great place to start your Scottish ancestry research is to find out if you are part of a clan. Here in Inverness, clan names associated with the area include Fraser, MacKintosh, MacKenzie, Campbell, Urquhart, Rose, Grant, Munro, Brodie and Chisholm, but there are many more. Try entering your surname into this Clan Finder tool to see if you have a clan and tartan. If you can’t find a specific tartan for your name, you could adopt a district tartan such as Inverness tartan, or choose one of the many universal tartans. Traditionally, woven tartan fabric is made into kilts, trews, sashes and shawls. However, you can wear tartan in lots of different forms today, from a hat to a handbag.

An assortment of colourful Scottish tartan kilts.
The distinctive checked tartan design comes in different colours and patterns

Inverness clans tours

If you find that you have links to one of the Scottish clans, there are plenty of ways to delve deeper. Inverness Tours runs tours for some of the prominent local clans. These tours start in Inverness and take you on a journey of discovery. They may take you to the castle which was the original seat for the Clan Chief. You might even get to meet a modern-day Chief! You’ll tour other important sites and locations associated with your clan and hear the stories and legends surrounding them. Find out more and book your clan tour.

Clan sites near Inverness

If you prefer to explore on your own, here are some of the important sites and castles around Inverness with Scottish clan connections…

  • Cawdor Castle – Traditional home of the Thanes of Cawdor, owned by the Campbells.
  • Urquhart Castle – Castle ruins overlooking Loch Ness, with links to Clan Urquhart.
  • Castle Leod – The seat of Clan MacKenzie, now also famous as an Outlander location.
  • Brodie Castle – Former grand home of the Brodie family.
  • Culloden Battlefield – Site of the Battle of Culloden, where clans fought together in 1746.
Clan Fraser stone on Culloden Battlefield
Stones on Culloden Battlefield commemorate Jacobite clan members who fought and died there.

Ness Walk Hotel is a great base for exploring Inverness and the Scottish Highlands. Whatever you need during your stay with us, our concierge service is always on hand. We can assist with transport, tickets, reservations and more. So if you need any help at all when researching your Scottish ancestry around Inverness, simply ask our team.

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