This summer the Clan MacLeod held their 16th Parliament which took place for the very first time in 1956. Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod first called the Gathering at Dunvegan Castle a Parliament and they meet every 4 years to celebrate the Clan's heritage and bring members together.
Clan MacLeod is separated into two different branches; the MacLeods of Harris and Skye and the MacLeods of Lewis. The Clans first chief, Leod Leod, was appointed in the 13th century and both branches of MacLeods claim descent to him. The 2nd chief of the clan, Norman Tormad, fought with King Robert the Bruce helping to defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn. The Clan Chiefs have occupied Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye for over 800 years and the Parliament takes place in this very same place. Three hundred MacLeods, from five continents and dozens of countries attended this year.
Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and today you can visit this amazing fortress, tour the Castle and and grounds and soak up the atmosphere and history. Set to the backdrop of the Cuillin mountains a favourite activity if you are visiting the area is a hike to the Fairy Pools and you can even take a dip in the icy but crystal clear waters if you like a bit of wild swimming. The walk up a beautiful path bounded by peat, heather and rocks is stunning in itself but nothing quite beats the beauty of the waterfalls that feed the Fairy Pools.
As we explore the area another point of interest is the cairn to commemorate the MacCrimmons, hereditary pipers at Dunvegan and the talent behind the piping collect at Boreraig. The family composed many classical pieces of music in honour of the Chiefs of Clan Macleod and the inscription on the plaque at the Cairn reads in Gaelic "The Memorial Cairn of the MacCrimmons of whom ten generations were the hereditary peopers of Macleod and who were renowned as Composers, Performers and Instructors of the classical music of the bagpipe." The MacCrimmons School of Music stood near the cairn 1500 to 1800 and their final pupil, a MacArthur, graduated in the 1780s. The Cairn was built thanks to donations from MacLeods and other supporters around the world.
The Clan MacLeod Society of Scotland was founded in 1891 to encourage those interested in their heritage to meet socially and share their clan culture. We Scots are spread across the world and for this reason you will also find Clan Macleod's in many different countries and there is an overarching organisation to link everyone together called The Associated Clan MacLeod Societies (ACMS) with Chief Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, Chief John MacLeod of Raasay and Chief Donald MacLeod of the Lewes as chiefs. If you would like to find out more there is lots of information on their website.
This is the first of a series of blogs all about the Clan MacLeod, their history and stories. If you are a MacLeod and have some tales to tell please get in touch as we would love to hear from you and share your tales. You can explore the MacLeod tartans on our clan pages.