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Genealogy in Scotland and Highland Clans

"Highland Clans" is a term that refers to the tribes of Scotland, small family-based groups with a common surname. The word "clan" indicates the principle of kin - the bond which united the members of the Highland tribes, and to their chiefs.

The Highland clans probably were Celtic in origin though a Saxon or a Norman stranger could found a clan by collecting followers from a broken or chieftainless Celtic tribe.

The Roman historian Tacitus wrote that inhabitants of Caledonia were divided into a number of tribes, each headed by a chief. According to Tacitus these tribes were independent and often at war with each other, only uniting under an elected leader when faced with a common external enemy.

Initially there were also clans in the lowland Border regions however these were broken up relatively early in comparison with the Highland clans which continued to flourish until the middle of the 18th century. Even today the spirit of clanship survives in the habits, opinions and passions of the Highland people.

In the old genealogies each tribe could be traced to a common ancestor, from whom all the different branches or clans are supposed to have descended.

Today Scottish people make up an estimated 1% of the world's population and people with Scottish heritage live in many countries throughout the world.
If you have a Scottish heritage or family name there are many sites that allow you to search for your clan and give tips in tracing your clan and finding your associated tartan.

Useful sites

Electric Scotland
Scottish Web Genealogy - Search

Border Gathering
Scottish Heritage USA
Scots Page USA


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