FIND MY CLAN

Scottish Clan Map

You can choose one of many paths to finding the right clan and clan society for you! You can select a Scottish surname from any of your ancestors through the “Find My Clan” online service. Alternatively, you can research the location in Scotland in which any of your ancestors resided and choose the most influential clan at that time. Under the land-based feudal system, your ancestor may have been a tenant of that clan or sworn fealty to the chief.

Many different maps claim to indicate the areas controlled by specific clans in Scotland. However, most “clan maps” appear to be pleasant fictions that bear only slight resemblance to actual ancestral family lands.

Few maps specify the basis for the section, whether the land was owned by the clan chief; whether members of the clan resided there; or whether the land was under the influence of the clan.

 

Another problem is that the date of the determination is rarely mentioned. This is a problem because the land owned or influenced by a specific clan ebbed and waned over time. The lands could be the “origins” of the clans before the rise of feudalism in 13th century, the height of clan rivalries in the 15th and 16th centuries, or during the 17th and 18th century Jacobite uprisings, after which many families’ ancestral lands were seized by the government.

The Clan Forbes Society tested the accuracy of four popular “clan maps” by comparing the ancestral estates of Clan Forbes to the land indicated om each map. These sites included the estates and policies of Druminnor Castle (first known as Castle Forbes) which was in Forbes control from 1272 to 1770 and 1955 to today; Castle Forbes (first known as Putachie House) held from 1411 to today; Pitsligo Castle, held from 1423 to 1746; Tolquhon Castle, held from 1433 to 1716; Craigievar Castle, held from 1610 to 1963; Corse Castle, held from 1476 to today; Corgarff Castle, held from 1550 to 1746; and Culloden House and Estate, held from 1626 to 1897. 

 

Three of the four maps were determined to be highly inaccurate:

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The Clans and Castles website offers “A map of the principal Clan Lands created by Alastair Cunningham for the Colin Baxter publication Scottish Clans and Tartans.” This implies ownership of the land by members of the clans but does not indicate any specific time frame. The website states: "Please contact us if you would like Clans and Castles to organise a tour of your clan lands." Only Craigievar Castle appears in the "Forbes" area -- so that would be a brief tour indeed.

The History Scotland website presents a Scotland clan map produced by Lochcarron of Scotland, self-proclaimed as “the world’s leading manufacturer of tartan.”​ No mention is made of the either the criteria for the regions (such as ownership, residence, or "influence") and no time frame is noted. This was posted on the website in 2017 and the link to Lochcarron of Scotland is broken. The site claims that "This interactive clan map includes clan motto, tartan, history and geographical area of dozens of Scotland's clans." It does not. 

The Highland Titles website provides a “Clan Map of Scotland,” but does not credit any author or creator. This map is more accurate but still maintains some inaccuracies. Again, no mention is made of the either the criteria for the regions (such as ownership, residence, or "influence") and no time frame is noted. The site does include a disclaimer: "We are also aware that the clan map can be a controversial topic – so if you find any inconsistencies or mistakes, do get in touch with your thoughts." (Note: Read about the 2020 Scottish court case that ruled against a similar organization claiming to grant a title of “Lord” or “Lady” by buying a small plat of land here: https://www.clan-forbes.org/post/peerage-protocol.

Scotland of Old,” first published in 1956, was found to be the most accurate “clan map” -- even though the word "clan" is not used.  This map was crafted by Sir Iain Moncreiffe of That Ilk, Bart., (1919 –1985) Albany Herald and Don Pottinger (1919–1986), Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms. This version was also approved by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs and the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The map notes that the lands indicate “general spheres of influence, usually about the time of King James VI but taking the history of each district or family as a whole.”

The map is currently out of publication. However, as of September 2022, this map was available online from Amazon.com and eBay.com.

For the complete analysis, see Scottish Clan Maps.

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