Clan Morrison, like all Scottish Clans, has a complicated history. There are several unrelated families of Morrisons dotted around Scotland – all with differing origins and histories. The Morrisons of Bognie, Perth and Lennox get their surname from the French name Maurice. The Morrisons of Harris descend from a family known as O Muircheasain. While the Morrisons of Lewis descend from the MacGilleMhoire family (Servant of Mary). Thankfully, the Lord Lyon King of Arms for Scotland decided to simplify things in 1965 and made one man the chief of all Morrisons, regardless of their origin.
The Outer Hebrides
Situated off Scotland’s north-west coast, the Outer Hebrides are a group of Scottish islands with a long history. The Outer Hebrides have been inhabited since at least 2900 BC. The long history of settlement means that the have bee some amazing discoveries on the islands. Discoveries such as standing stones, Iron Age Villages and even mummies have made the islands an archaeologist’s dream.
Vikings invaded the Outer Hebrides in the late 8th century. The Viking warlords were nominally subject to the Norwegian crown, however, Norway didn’t formalize its claim to the Hebrides until 1098. The Norwegian occupation of the Outer Hebrides lasted until 1266. The Treaty of Perth returned the islands to Scotland. The four centuries of Norwegian (Viking) rule have left their mark on the Islands as many modern place names still hint at their Scandinavian roots. Following the return of the Outer Hebrides to Scotland, Clan chiefs started to gain power in the area. The Clans MacLeod, MacNeil, MacDonald and the Morrison gained power in the islands. With the growing power of these clans, tension began to rise. This tension resulted in the development of various fortresses and strongholds on the islands.
One such stronghold is Dun Eistean, a sea stack on the Northern coast of Harris and Lewis. A sea stack is a vertical column of rock which has been cut off from the mainland by erosion. Dun Eistean is thought to have been a seat of power for Clan Morrison with its particular geography serving it well during a great deal of political and local turmoil. In 2000, Clan Morrison commissioned an excavation on the stack to uncover its history. The excavation of Dun Eistean was led by Rachel Barrowman. Her team uncovered that the stack was in repeated use as a settlement throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Aside from the unique geography, the dwellings and artificial pond on the island ensured that those seeking refuge on Dun Eistean would be well looked after. Rachel Barrowman has published her findings in Dun Eistean Ness, there is more information available on Glasgow University’s website.
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