Few countries in the world can boast a life span as rich or diverse as Scotland. The true story of the people, the battles, the nobility and its Kings and Queens, is more thrilling than any novel, and has more love stories than all the Hollywood movies. Scotland’s clans provide Scots everywhere with a point of reference for their identity, history and culture.
The term clan is now applied almost exclusively to the tribes into which the Scottish Highlanders were formerly, and still, to some extent, are divided. The term was also applied to those large and powerful septs into which the Irish people were at one time divided, as well as to the communities that inhabited the Scottish borders, each of which, like the Highland clans, had a common surname. Indeed, in an Act of the Scottish Parliament for 1587, the Highlanders and Borderers are classed together as being alike “dependents on chieftains or captains of clans.”
The border clans, however, were, at a comparatively early period, broken up and weaned from their predatory and warlike habits, whereas the system of clanship in the Highlands continued to flourish in almost full vigor down to the middle of the 18th century.
As there is so much of romance surrounding the system, especially in its later manifestations, and as it was the cause of much annoyance to England, it has become a subject of interest to antiquarians and students of mankind generally; and as it flourished so far into the historical period, curiosity can, to a great extent, be gratified as to its details and working.