MacKenzie, MacDonald and Murray: Clan Itineraries

MacKenzie, MacDonald and Murray: Clan Itineraries

You don’t have to be Scottish to be a MacKenzie, MacDonald or Murray. The ubiquity of these names all over the world highlights just how powerful and influential these clans where in their day. Of course, there are many more clans than these! Here, however, are some suggestions of how you can explore your ancestry if you happen to have MacKenzie, MacDonald or Murray blood in you.

Clan MacKenzie

Clan Mackenzie has a long and powerful history. Their territory encompassed 22 square miles of incredible Highland landscapes, including the Five Sisters of Kintail which has now become popular with hillwalkers.

  • Eilean Donan castle
    Eilean Donan castle

    Inverness and the Highland Archive Centre: On the outskirts of Inverness, which often called the Highland’s capital city, visit the Culloden Battlefield where Bonnie Prince Charlie lead his troops in the Jacobite Revolution.

  • Afterwards, you can travel into Inverness city to visit the Highland Archive Centre where 13th century genealogy records will reveal the intricate history of the Mackenzies!
  • If you head west you’ll come to the stunning Eilean Donan Castle, which was the home of the Mackenzie Clan from 1267. This iconic building is possibly one of the most famous castles in Scotland, and it is definitely worth a trip!
  • Explore more Mackenzie territory on the Isle of Skye. Here you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, challenge yourself to a hike up Cullin mountain, or stay indoors and visit the Museum of the Isles.

Clan Donald (MacDonald)

Clan Donald, or MacDonald, was one of the largest clans in Scotland. They controlled most of Scotland’s west coast and called themselves “the Lord of the Isles”.

  • Begin your journey in Inverness by visiting the site of the Battle of Culloden, a key date in the 1746 Jocobite Revolution, in which the MacDonalds were major players. There are tours available around the battlefield and its information centre, and you can even see a Living History presentation which is fantastic for the kids!
  • While you’re in the area, stop by the Highland Folk Museum which brings over 300 years of Scottish history to life. The museum is also situated on 80 acres of highland, so why not take a stroll to look for wildlife while you’re there?
  • Isle of Skye: Photo credit Chris Golightly
    Isle of Skye: Photo credit Chris Golightly

    Moving south you’ll come to one of the most iconic locations in Scotland, Glencoe. The breathtaking landscape lends itself to an array of outdoor activities, but if the weather isn’t on your side then you can explore the visitor centre where you can learn more about the infamous massacre of the MacDonald clan at Glencoe in 1692.

  • No MacDonald itinerary would be complete without a trip to the Isle of Skye. The clan once ruled the island, and a 20,000 acre highland estate in the south was purchased by the Clan Donald Lands Trust in 1971 in order to continue their legacy.
  • Skye is also home to Armadale Castle which is now a museum dedicated to the MacDonalds. In the summer, the magnificent gardens are the perfect addition to the tour.

Clan Murray

Clan Murray was one of the most politically significant clans in Scotland, as they played an important role in Scottish independence and governance. The Murray’s main territories were over in the east and in the Highlands.

  • Stirling Castle (Photo credit (John McPake)
    Stirling Castle (Photo credit (John McPake)

    Edinburgh is a fantastic place to start the Murray journey. The National Museum of Scotland makes a brilliant afternoon out for anyone, and offers incredible insight into the Murrays and other Scottish clans.

  • Travel north to Stirling castle which was the temporary home to both Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace. The castle is steeped in the history of some of Scotland most famous historical figures.
  • Not far from Stirling is the site of the Battle of Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce cemented his title as the King of Scotland. The battle was one of the most significant moments in Scottish history, and the Murray clan’s relationship with the Bruces is documented in the visitors’ centre.
  • Lastly, Drummond Castle, outside of Crieff, boasts one of the most spectacular gardens in Europe. The Murray’s married into the Drummond clan, but a long feud soon broke out, reaching a tragic fruition when the Murrays were massacred at Monzievaird kirk.


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