Dunvegan Castle recieves an odd correspondance and invitation!

Warning, disclaimer and apology for a wayward tangent that I was unable to resist!  Normally, I keep my story segments and creations separate from my other fascinations and addictions… such as Outlander? For this one instance however, I was unable to resist the notion of them running across each other a bit! This is the one and only time that I will cross these paths!


First of all, in order to see or understand how any of this outlandish and far fetched fantasy might in any way shape or form have cause, reason or the remotest plausibility of intersecting, it may help to have a bit of background information on some relevant facts concerning Clan MaCleod and Dunvegan Castle during the period of the 1740’s. I will only supply the basic pertinent facts as they relate here to this story. My characters are fictional members of the Clan MacCleod much as Diana Gabaldon’s characters are fictional members of the Clan MacKenzie!  While they are fictional characters, I do try to tie them to historical events when ever possible!


Before anything else, let us look at where Dunvegan Castle and Clan Macleod lands sit on the Clan map of the highlands. This is important as it will give you some idea of where the MacCleod Clans resided in relation to MacKenzie and Fraser Clans. As you can see it would not have been odd for the MacCleods to know of or have dealings with either MackKenzies or Frasers.

Scottish Clan map with Dunvegan Castle's location starred.

Scottish Clan map with Dunvegan Castle’s location starred.


As far as factual information goes, during the 1740’s Clan MacCeod was headed by Norman MacCloid, who did not support the Jacobite rebellion and led troops in support of the Government forces.  The chief led 500 men of the MacLeod Independent Highland Companies in support of the Government at the Battle of Inverurie on 23 December 1745, where they were defeated.

The Macleods of Raasay, a branch of the MacLeods of Lewis, fought at the Battle of Culloden as part of the Glengarry Regiment, in retribution, the MacLeods of Dunvegan, under their chief, Norman MacLeod, burned and pillaged the Island of Raasay, harassing its inhabitants for many weeks in the late summer of 1746. As a result Norman MacLeod became known as “The Wicked Man”. In 1745, MacLeod of Dunvegan was said to have been able to “bring out” 700 men.   

Clan MacCleod history:

Norman MacLeod (The Wicked Man) :

Dunvegan Castle:

So far, I have not addressed any of this as yet in my story, but eventually will get to these details! Suffice it to say, Norman MacCleod would probably not been a friend of Dougal MacKenzie. But, then again, it might have been possible as the Jacobite Rebellion created a civil war, a divide between families and one time friends.  In our current story, we know little of the MacCleod Clan’s political or religious dealings at this time. As far as we know at this point, our fictional Clan members consisting of Eric North, Svein North, and young Brennie along with a housekeeper, Minn are the current residents of  Dunvegan Castle. Svein and Eric have been there since it’s beginnings and Brennie has been there for a few centuries now.  A clue as to the reason for them residing there and not Norman can be found in his factual history.  He supported the Government cause in the Jacobite Rising, and was an absentee chief as he seldom lived at his ancestors’ traditional seat of  Dunvegan Castle.  If you’re thinking Clan MacKenzie was the only Clan with not so likeable or trustable Family members, you might want to read more about Norman MacCleod? He was one of those Clan leaders that members probably rued the day they put him in power?  Ok, enough on him, he will show up in our story later!

Eric has appeared throughout this long sage but his personal story and his connection to Dunvegan Castle unfolds starting here:


It might also be of interesting note here that Dunvegan Castle has a long history and connection- which they are proud of by the way- with the Fairie realm and other such folk lore. Maybe they heard stories of that strange woman residing with the MacKenzies?!




Now that you have a bit of background history on the MacCleods and Dunvegan Castle, we can go on with our strange intersection?


During our construction of Dunvegan Castle we’ve been following Eric’s and Brennie’s memories of the past in the Castle. Brennie is reliving many of her own memories of  past events with thoughts of that time when her close friend and mentor, Minn was there as housekeeper and so much more. It was during the during the 1700’s when much of the Castle was renovated from a medieval fortress to a more habitable home, thanks much to Minn’s efforts and knowledge!   Brennie did not know much of what the outside world was doing, or what Eric and Svein were involved with during those times. She was just coming into her own as a new person thanks also to Minn’s sometimes overbearing but caring guidance. It was during this time that Brennie began to take part in what was happening around her, and what was happening in Scotland. 

Eric and Svein were often gone on Clan business, most of which Brennie questioned little of before this time. With Minn’s arrival though, the Castle began to change and become more of a home to many Clan members. Eric and Svein were not Clan Chiefs… they left that duty to the more human members of the Clan, a fact that in this time, they were beginning to regret. The current Clan Cheiftan, Norman MacCleod, did not reside at the Castle and rarely if ever bothered to even visit there. He did send two orphaned Clan members there though.  Two of his illegitimate offspring were sent to Dunvegan when their Mother died and Norman wanted them well out of his way.  So, Dunvegan along with Minn and Brennie took them in, welcomed them, and raised them.  The boy, Alexander was taken into training by Eric and Svein.  Where ever Svein or Eric went, so went Alex! Ellen, followed Minn and Brennie around with the same adoration.





Ellen MacCleod

Ellen MacCleod


Late one evening, the men were in the stables when young Alexander arrived exhausted from traveling hurriedly across the country with a message he said was of dire importance. He did not know what it was, had been given by one of the MacKenzies and told only that it was urgent that he get it to Svein and Eric.

An exhausted Rory

The first debate before even opening the message was one of what the MacKenzies wanted with them?  Eric was puzzled and doubtful, then suspicious… his words to Svein, “What have ye done? We’re at peace ye ken, and I would it to stay that way. I want no wars or battles now with other Clans. We have us enough trouble with Norman!”

At the mention of  his Father’s name, Alex hung his head. He knew of how much trouble the man was causing, and he was tired of the battles in his head and his heart over being the man’s son.

Debate on what to do

Svein assured Eric, “Need ye not worry, I have not done a thing, cept befriend the man!”

Eric’s response was resigned. “Achhh and, I am supposing that ye think that’s a much better thing? Dinna think that I want to be in that Man’s debt more than I want to be his enemy! What have ye promised him that we canna provide?”

Eric and Svein in the stable

Svein paused before answering. “Nothing, I promised nothing that we canna provide. I merely pledged our assistance against a more personal matter that he be involved in.  I promised our neutrality in that matter of his Fraser kin. We willna take any sides in what ever matters they dispute about was all I promised him.”

Eric nodded, “Well we can provide that, we have no quarrel with either of them and we need it to stay that way.”

He told Alex to take the parcel upstairs and noticed the frustration on the boy’s face. “Ye hold yer temper lad, and do as I ask. Ye’re not too old for a whipping yet even though ye think ye are!”

Discussion of news

Some time later, the family stood around the table staring at the parcel and missive that had been delivered, not quite sure what this meant to them?


The message was indeed a rather odd and curious one?

Wedding Invitation

Eric was not sure what it meant and thought for a few moments before asking Alex, “Are ye sure ye got the right parcel? And, are ye sure they said to deliver it here? Maybe ye heard them wrong or grabbed the wrong message. How much ale did ye drink and how tired were ye when ye were talkin to them?”

Alex bowed his head, mainly because he was so tired he was bout to drop off right there… and he did not want to share either just how much of the Ale he had shared at the Inn with the MacKenzie travelers! “Nay, Eric, I dinna grab the wrong message! Twas that Mutagh Fitzgibbons that shoved it in my shirt front, told me to ride like Hell to Svein and then get our arses back there soon as we could!”


Svein sighed and gave the only plausible explanation he could think of. “Well, like as not, we’re being called as to be impartial witnesses. I pledged to Dougal that I would not take sides in any of his family matters and this looks to be an important family matter? I know not much about the whole story of the lad but there is that land dispute in question between the clans, which the lad stands to inherit when he marries. Maybe it all has something to do with that?”

Rory bows his head

They discussed it for some time and could not come to any further conclusion than what Svein had suggested. There was agreement that what could it hurt to attend as requested… to not show up would cause some rift between them and Dougal that Eric did not want to encur so he went along with it though with some hesitation. He did not want to walk into some sort of trap either or become embroiled in some larger dispute of the MacKenzies. He agreed that they would go as requested, then return home immediately afterwards. The women would stay home, there was no need to endanger them and this was a man’s business anyway, Svein insisted.


Minn had her own thoughts as to Svein’s comment but wisely for once, kept them to herself.  After the men left the room, she filled Brennie and young Ellen in on her latest gossip about the MacKenzies and their strange guest who was visiting and now about to become their newest family member. “I heard tell that some folks think she’s a witch? They do say she is might odd, but a fine healer even if she does drink a might much? Probably should not be asking for her aid if it gets a bit late in the day… if ye know what I ken?” She went on with her tales and then after a moment reminded the women, “Achhh, Ye know of that lad, he’s passed through here before. Ye remember that fine young lad who all the lasses swayed over, the one who wouldna go in the boats?”

Brennie and Ellen nodded, they both remembered him now! Ellen blushed and said sadly, “Well I could only wish such a lad like him could find his way here for me! Not that it would matter though, as no one would be fool enough to have me.”

Minn just hushed and tsked at her youthful but true comments. “Hush ye Ellen, ye’re far too young to be thinking such thoughts anyway, and when the time does come we’ll be sure to find you a right fine lad!”



Previous Outlander post: Marriage of Convenience

Previous Dunvegan Castle post:


Most recent progress on Dunvegan Castle:


Left side Watch tower room with access to a work room.

Screenshot-2 Screenshot-3

Off the Work room is a small space which Minn uses for her book work space


This general work room is part of the original old Castle rooms. It  was used as work room space by Castle residents for many years, as it was better lit with windows and sunlight than some of the other rooms of the time.

Screenshot-11 Screenshot-10 Screenshot-5 Screenshot-6 Screenshot-8

Overview of work room with stairs down to stables and still room storage on the other side of it.





Behind the Scenes: Dunvegan’s private gallery and Hadrian’s Wall Fort

Some work on the upper level private museum/gallery at Dunvegan where Eric went to surround himself with  his distant past as he remembered those times.

Normally, I do try to keep custom content out of the builds, but since this Castle has such a number of  various artifacts and memories, I felt it important to try to represent them! I am trying to keep it to a minimum and  will include a list of the items and where they can be found for download purposes.  These two photos include some of those items. The Sword and the cups on the shelf are from Sims Resource, Cashcraft’s  Pendragon Medieval collection which can be found here:

Eric in the upstairs private gallery

The displayed Sword is important because it does reflect the red dragon mentioned in some of the historical theories on the origins of King Arthur. The decorative cups are representations of the Dunvegan Ceremonial Cup. The Wall antlers represent some of the ancient Macleod history, which Eric has not as yet come to in his memories!

private gallery

The other ancient swords and shields are courtesy of  Mod the Sims Medieval Armory set


The tapestries shown here have been in my game forever and you can find similar ones here:

Screenshot-15 private gallery4

The rest of the items in the room are game or store items!


The recent episode of Eric remembering his turning at Hadrian’s Wall Fort requires of course, that we have some version of Hadrian’s Wall Fort to refer to! We will be referring back to it again in the near future so we had to do work on constructing a set for it! Here are some initial views of it. It is not meant to be the entire wall, only a portion of it representing one of the early Roman Fortresses attached to it. Most of these Forts were nothing fancy and built for defensive purposes, not luxury!

These are some views of what it might have looked like in Eric’s early years there. This is an over view of it.

view of Hadrian's Wall Fort


Back view of Fort, most likely the portion that faced their enemy. The open space will be open field, possibly including a ditch to slow down the Barbarians.

Screenshot portion of Hadrian's Wall Fort

View of the Front, which would have been the Romans’ main entrance, but still well barricaded and fortified to withstand attack.

Hadrian's Wall Fort

Artorius with his sword… This should give you a clue as to who Artorius is? We have seen him before in connection to Eric!

Artorius and Eric



Eleanor’s Journal73: Dunvegan Residents celebrate and honor their ancient heritage



Eric, Brennie and Svein celebrate the summer solstice

Eric, Brennie and Svein celebrate the summer solstice

        The residents of Dunvegan have taken some time out from their other preparations to honor some of their more ancient traditions and beliefs by celebrating the Summer Solstice. They invite you to join them in their celebration and as a way of continuing their traditions, they will leave the décor the way it is for any future residents to use in their own celebrations!  They are pictured here with one of their prized ancient treasures, the Dunvegan Cup. Though referred to as a cup, it is more the size of an urn or pitcher, which makes the ritual of draining it all in one drink all the more difficult!


Solstice celebration with ancient artifact of Dunvegan Cup.

Screenshot-21 Screenshot-20 Screenshot-19 Screenshot-18

From the Creator: Some history of Clans in Scotland


Our current storyline involving Eric North, finds him questioning his loyalties and his ties to the Vampyres in comparison to those of his Clan and his country.  He owes much to the Vampyres and has been one of them for a great many centuries. We will see in future episodes though that his ties to the Clan MaCleod go back as far, or further than the ties to the Vampyres. In order to understand why Eric might be so willing to put the Clan and Country, as well as Judith, ahead of any allegiance to the Vampyres, it might help to have some background history and information on the Clan systems of the Highlands along with their importance and impact on their members lives and self identities. It might also help us in understanding some of Brennie’s difficulties in accepting her place in the Vampyre world over the centuries. Both Brennie and Eric have feelings of loyalties and bonds outside of the Vampyre realm though for the most part they have managed to maintain their loyalty to the Vampyres.

Eric and friends5

Eric’s thoughts:

Eric in the Castle

Eric’s memories


Most people tend to assume that Clan refers to family connections. In some areas it does.  The Scottish/Gaelic Clan membership includes a much broader group of membership. It is a common misconception that every person who bears a clan’s name is a lineal descendant of the chiefs. Many clansmen although not related to the chief took the chief’s surname as their own to show solidarity, or for basic protection, or for much needed sustenance.

The Scottish Clan system was based more on a form of  feudal organization than strictly  family connections. Their existence goes back to before the year 1000 AD and was the basis for Highland government until they were essentially destroyed by the British in 1745. When the British took over ruling authority in 1745, they set into place strict rules that would take away all power and sense of allegiance or affiliation to separate clans. They sought to eliminate completely the history and culture of the highland Clans in order to bring those people into British control rather than separate Clan control.

In the most ancient history of the clans, the Chief or founder of a clan would have been one chosen as leader of that group by the members. It then developed into a highly complex system of government based on those original leaders.

To look at the Clan as a family connection or grouping is far too basic or simplistic for the system that evolved from the beginnings of small family or warrior groups that banded together in order to survive. Over the centuries, Clan membership cut across all lines of class, status, religions, initial family connections  or other allegiances.  As mentioned earlier, many of those who swore allegiance to a certain clan would give up their original family ties, or surnames for that of the Clan which was offering them protection and much needed benefits. People often speak of “old” families or lineage, while in reality no family is older than any other. It is just that some families can easier trace their lineages back with documented records. This generally applies to aristocracies and Royal family lines in other countries. In the Scottish Highlands, virtually everyone can trace their history back to one of the historic ruling clans.

Sir Iain Moncreiffe  provided a description which appealed to all Highland descendants. He described it in this way, the sacred royal and dynastic origin of the founder chiefs, and thus of the clans themselves: the ultimate biological unity with the Sovereign that accounts for ‘Highland pride’ and ‘loyalty; In the end-papers of this book, Sir Iain sets out two conjectural family trees: The Galley, showing clan descent from the Norse King Ingiald, 7th century ruler of Uppsala, and The Lyon, showing clan descent from the Irish Eochu, King of Tara, father of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

The Highland Scottish Clan system and the people it includes can trace their origins and history back to Celtic beginnings in Ireland and the most ancient Norse migrations.


These ancient Norse migrations are the basis in our story for Eric North’s ancestry. Once his small family group arrived, they would have eventually become part of the Clan Mcleod, which has a long and rich history and claims connections to the Norse, and to Fairies in their documented accounts of their lineage!


Before we go into specific history of the clan Mcleod, it might be interesting and benefitial to understand some basics of Clan hierarchy with the Chief’s place and role in it.

Clan hierarchy and Chief

What is a Chief ?  A chief is properly described as Chief of the Name and Arms. He is head of the whole Clan name in Scotland. The description; Chief of the Clan is sometimes used although this is more properly a social description rather than a legal designation. The chief of the name and arms is entitled to wear three eagle’s feathers in his bonnet badge. Under the Chief are his designated branch rulers known as Chieftains.  A Chieftain is the head of a considerable branch of the name and was frequently called Chieftane of the Cuntrie. A chief will have one or more chieftains under his command although in the organization and leadership of their branch they will have considerable independence. The chief’s eldest son or heir presumptive is also considered to be a chieftain and in the major clans, all the chiefs’ sons may be considered to be chieftains. A chieftain of a clan is entitled to wear two eagle’s feathers in his bonnet badge. Having said that the head of a whole name is described as Chief; the law does recognize that there are different levels of chiefship to reflect the relative importance of the different names of Scotland.

In history, the Chief’s role was of high importance, but what of now days?  What use  is he or she when warfare has little use for claymore,  kilt or pipes?What use is a Chief when the economy of the clan no longer depends upon a communal agriculture close to the land of a single glen or island or district?  What use is a chief when boasting of great exploits or mighty position is more likely to bring  embarrassment than  cheers of  approval?

In spite of all these changes, the chief of a clan still is usually the center of leadership in whatever the clan does. What has changed is less the role of the chief than it is what the clan does. Where once it was the very essence of existence, the clan now is a valued adjunct to the more fundamental problems of earning a living in a money economy, and of being a good citizen in a modern community, a community caring little for ethnic attachments to past glories and ties. (Even in Scotland is this in a sense true.) The modern chiefs role can be seen then in terms of these clan activities and interests– supplemental to our everyday lives, but vital to the clan. Finally, a chief still serves as symbol, representative and leader of his great extended family.

Earliest forms of the Clan system and Chief’s role.

In Gaelic, clann means children, and, by extension, descendants. The head of each clan was often a “king,” which over the years evolved into “chief.” Members of the clan did not necessarily bear the same name. At first, only the chief and his family used fixed surnames to indicate their descent from the founder of the clan. Around the 17th century, the use of surnames among all clans in the Highlands became the norm.

In the early history of Scotland’s clans, to avoid corruption, the king was not permitted to own property. The clan provided for all his needs in return for his wise leadership.  Succession was hereditary within a family, with each clan electing a new king.   It was a unique system, whereby the lowest member shared a common bond with the king, in this way it differed from feudalism, in which each rank in society owed their lord everything. In those earliest days, just because you were the eldest son, that did not necessarily mean you would automatically become the next leader. The Clan members would meet and decide on who among the family was the best choice as leader of the group.

As the clan system developed, “broken” men –men without a connection to any clan–were allowed to join. Sometimes, tenants of clan lands who came from outside the clan became members after three generations of tenancy.   In spite of that affiliation, however, these tenants were still not considered blood members of the clan.  In yet another variation of membership, an entire clan or “sept” (a branch of a clan) could be accepted into another clan after losing the last of its chiefs or its territory.  Smaller clans sometime swore fealty to a larger clan for safety.

Traditionally, the men of the clan were called together by a fiery cross (crois taraidh), which was made from two pieces of burned, or burning, wood. A relay of runners tied the pieces of wood together with a rag soaked in blood and carried the cross from glen to glen.

Generally speaking, the men in most clans fought and hunted, while the women and older children did the work at home. A steady source of income for  some  clans  was “blackmeal,” or protection money, which the Lowlanders or other neighbors paid to buy off the raiders.

In spite of his often humble surroundings, a clan chief tended to create the kind of pageantry usually associated with royalty.  Whenever he traveled, his huge entourage followed. First, were his henchmen or personal bodyguard.  Next, came the bard (Seanachaidh).  It was the bard’s duty to record the chief’s heroic deeds, including those of the clan and the chief’s forebears.   Following the bard was the piper.  The piper ’s position was hereditary one, passing father to son. The bard and the piper often followed the chief into battle, “the former that he might witness with his own eyes his leader ’s acts of valour, and the latter to inspire the Clan to greater heroism by his playing,” wrote Scottish historian Fitzroy MacLean.  Next up was the chief’s spokesman (Bladaire), who functioned as a king of protocol officer.  The spokesman’s role was to issue proclamations for the chief or argue the chief’s position on a dispute.  Finally, bringing up the rear of the company was a ghillie, or two, who carried the chief’s broadsword and shield (targe).

The last rites given to a Highland clan chief were no less renowned for spectacle than his entourage.  Regardless of the distance, custom dictated that the chief had to be buried with his fathers.

The chief’s corpse was carried feet first, with the piper ’s place at the head. Tightly furled in front was the clan standard. Following behind were the Clansmen with drawn swords. Attending every funeral was the piper, whose music honored the dead as well as inspired the bearers on the march.   The women of the clan followed the funeral march as far as the first brook (burn).  At that point, they presented a cup of wine, which symbolized a prayer for the departed.

Because the distances to the burial ground could be quite lengthy, the custom of wakes began among the Gaelic-speaking descendants of both the Scots and the Irish.  Although they now have a reputation as being somewhat rowdy, wakes evolved gradually from the quiet, reverential vigils of Roman Catholicism.

Inclement weather was no obstacle to a proper and ceremonious burial for a Clan Chief.   In fact, if anything, it spurred the burial party to even greater pride in their duty as the procession chanted:  “Blessed be the corpse the rain rains on.”


History of Clan Mcleod and Dunvegan Castle

The Clan Macleod were the original founders of our story’s Dunvegan Castle and we will try to stay as close and true to their rich history as possible with our inclusion of them in the ongoing story! It might be of some interest to note here that they have been long associated with stories of Fairies and other such legendary figures… namely that of the rather famous immortal, Duncan Macleod of the Highlander series!



Clan MacLeod (/?klæn m?’kla?d/; Scottish Gaelic: Clann Mhic Leòid;  is a Highland Scottish clan associated with the Isle of Skye. There are two main branches of the clan: the Macleods of Harris and Dunvegan, whose chief is Macleod of Macleod, are known in Gaelic as Sìol Tormoid (“seed of Tormod”); the Macleods of Lewis, whose chief is Macleod of The Lewes, are known in Gaelic as Sìol Torcaill (“seed of Torcall”). Both branches claim descent from Leòd, who lived in the 13th century.


The surname MacLeod means ‘son of Leod’. The name Leod is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name Leòd, which is thought to have been derived from the Old Norse name Ljótr, meaning ugly. Clann means family, while mhic is the genitive of mac, the Gaelic for son, and Leòid is the genitive of Leòd. The whole phrase therefore means The family of the son of Leod.
The Clan MacLeod of Lewis claims its descent from Leod, who according to MacLeod tradition was a younger son of Olaf the Black, King of Mann (r.1229–1237). However, articles have been published in the Clan MacLeod magazine which suggest an alternative genealogy for Leod, one in which he was not son of Olaf, but a 3rd cousin (some removed) from Magnus the last King of Mann. In these alternative genealogies, using the genealogy of Christina MacLeod, great granddaughter of Leod, who married Hector Reaganach (McLean/McLaine) these articles suggest that the relationship to the Kings of Mann was through a female line, that of Helga of the beautiful hair. The dating of Christina’s genealogy and the ability to line it up with known historical facts lend a great deal of authenticity to the claims of the authors.


MacLeod tradition is that Leod who had possession of Harris and part of Skye, married a daughter of the Norse seneschal of Skye, MacArailt or Harold’s son who held Dunvegan and much of Skye. Tradition stated that Leod’s two sons, Tormod and Torquil, founded the two main branches of the Clan MacLeod, Siol Tormod and Siol Torquil. Torquil was actually a grandson of Tormod; Torquil’s descendants held the lands of the Isle of Lewis until the early seventeenth century when the Mackenzies successfully overthrew the Lewismen,[3] partly with the aid of the Morrisons, and the MacLeods of Harris (Siol Tormod). Younger branches of Siol Torquil held the mainland lands of Assynt and Cadboll longer, and the Isle of Raasay until 1846.[3] Siol Tormod held Harris and Glenelg on the mainland, and also the lands of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye.

Leod, according to tradition, died around 1280 and was buried on the holy island of Iona, where six successive chiefs of the clan found a last resting-place after him.[4]


A DNA project studying the Y-DNA of males bearing surnames associated with Clan MacLeod found that the vast majority of the men tested had a Haplogroup of R1b, which is the most common Haplogroup in the British Isles. A total of 32% of all men tested, who were also in this R1b Haplogroup, also shared the same Haplotype and showed this group shared a common ancestor.

A romanticised depiction of a McLeod by R. R. McIan in 1845.
According to the study, this 32% of MacLeods tested had a common ancestor within 1000 years (some will have a common ancestor earlier but all who match with another of the surname with 23/25, 33/37, 62/67 markers share the same more distanct ancestor), thus this Haplotype is considered to show the founding lineage of the Clan MacLeod.[5] While the study could not prove a “Viking” origin of the clan, the study claimed the DNA of this group showed that the clan was founded by a man who could have originated in Scotland or the Isle of Man. It should be noted however, that the R1b haplogroup is found at 30% frequency in Norway and that the studies of the haplogroup R1b are very fluid.


Of further note on the history of the Clan Macleod is the history of the Castle Dunvegan, which we have covered previously, and the ancient artifacts that are related to the clan and the Castle. Those being the The Fairy Flag, Ruiaidh Mor’s drinking horn, The Dunvegan Cup.

Ruiaidh Mor’s drinking horn
A drinking horn, made from ox horn, with a silver tip. Named for Sir Rory Mor (Ruiaidh Mor MacLeod) clan chief who lived from 1562-1626. Some historians suggest that it actually dates from the 10th century and is of Norse origin. Clan tradition says that the chief must prove himself by drinking a full measure of wine from the horn.

The Fairy Flag
In a special display case within the castle is the prize possession of Clan MacLeod; the Fairy Flag. This is the Highlands, and you almost expect myths and fantastical tales to appear around every corner, but even so, the Fairy Flag is something special.

There are several versions of the story, so you are free to choose your own! One story goes that a chief of Clan MacLeod fell in love with a ‘bean sidhe‘, a fairy princess. The princess’s father was against the marriage, but his daughter pled to be allowed to marry the chief until the father agreed to a period of handfasting. This was a sort of trial marriage that lasted for a year and a day. At the end of the handfasting period the princess was to return to the fairy realms, and bring with her nothing from the human world.

The agreement was made, and for a year the couple lived happily at Dunvegan. A son was born to them, but at the end of the handfasting period the princess bade a tearful farewell to her husband at the Fairy Bridge, not far from the castle. She made her husband promise that the baby would never be allowed to cry, for the sound of his cries would disturb her even in the fairy realms. The distraught chief agreed, but the depth of his grief alarmed his clan members. They thought to cheer him up and organised a large party for his birthday, to take his minf off his loss. The revellers celebrated long into the night, and the young nursemaid assigned to guard the baby crept from her post to watch the revels.

You can perhaps guess what happened next; the baby kicked off his coverlet and began to cry, and the mother heard him from far away in her fairy realm. She appeared by his cradle, wrapped the baby in her shawl, and sang a lullaby to nurse him back to sleep. The nurse returned, and though could hear the lullaby she could not see the fairy mother. She took the child, still wrapped in the strange shawl, to see the chief, and told him what had happened.

When the child grew to be a young man he told his father a strange tale; that the shawl was a talisman, and that if the clan ever found themselves in danger they should wave the shawl three times and armies from the fairy realm would come to their aid. A powerful weapon indeed, but there was a catch; the fairy flag could only be used three times, then it would return to the fairy realms, taking with it the one who waved the flag.

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

remnants of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

remnants of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

The Fairy Flag has been used twice; once when the clan was in battle against their bitter enemies the MacDonalds. The clan chief waved the flag three times and the tide of the battle turned in the MacLeod’s favour. The second time the MacLeod cattle herds were stricken with plague and the clan members were dying of starvation. The chief waved the flag and the fairies returned the cattle to health.

Another tradition says that the Fairy Flag was guarded by hereditary standard bearers, and only the eldest male of this family was allowed to unfurl the flag. The very first standard bearer was honoured by being buried in the tomb of the clan chief on Iona.

During World War II many MacLeod servicemen carried a photo of the Fairy Flag in their wallets, and it is claimed that no airman who carried the photo was lost in the Battle of Britain. The chief of Clan MacLeod famously offered to bring the flag to Dover and wave it at the Germans should they invade Britain. Thankfully his intervention was not required, and the Fairy Flag is still waiting its third use. In the meantime it sits in a special display case in Dunvegan Castle.

A fanciful myth? Perhaps, but where does the flag actually come from? Scientific tests on the fabric reveal that it is made of silk from Rhodes or Syria, and dates to sometime between the 4th and 7th centuries. So it is of very ancient provenance. One story suggests that it was brought back from the Holy Land by a crusader.


The Dunvegan Cup
This is a late 15th century ceremonial cup made of wood decorated with silver. It was created in 1493 for Caitriona, wife of John Maguire of Fermanagh. How did it come to Dunvegan? History is vague on this point. One legend says it was a gaift of faeries.