Clan MacLeod

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Clan MacLeod Seal

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Clan MacLeod Seal

The progenitor of the Clan was Leod, who gained possession of much of Skye, including the Cuillins, Harris and Lewis in the mid 13th century. Later tradition claimed that he was descended from the Norse Kings of Man. Dunvegan was acquired by marriage to the MacRailt heiress and became the principle seat of the Clan where the Castle was built and developed. The Clan takes its name from Leod, whose sons were called MacLeod, mac being Gaelic for son.

Leod had two sons, or grandsons, Tormod, English Norman, and Torcall, English Torquil, who became progenitors of the MacLeods of Harris and Dunvegan and the MacLeods of the Lewes.

In the 14th century the MacLeods of Harris acquired Glenelg on the mainland at the strategic crossing point to Skye. Malcolm MacLeod, 3rd Chief of Harris, built the keep at Dunvegan.

The MacLeods of the Lewes acquired Gairloch and Assynt on the mainland and the Isle of Raasay.

Both MacLeod Clans supported the MacDonald Lord of the Isles, semi independent kings on the west coast. In Skye land was lost to the MacDonalds. After the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isle, in 1493, the MacLeods and MacDonalds began feuding. At this difficult time Alexander MacLeod, 8th Chief of Harris, known as Alasdair Crotach, kept the clan lands together and built himself a fine tomb in St Clement’s Church, Rodel, Harris.

Alasdair Crotach MacLeod built the Fairy Tower and the Fairy Flag is still the most celebrated relic at the Castle. The flag was given to a MacLeod chief by the fairies and had the power to summon up a magic host in time of need. It was twice used in defeating the MacDonalds.

The MacCrimmons, hereditary pipers at Dunvegan, became pre-eminent pipers and people were sent from all over Scotland to be perfected as pipers. The MacCrimmons had a piping college at Boreraig, where a cairn now commemorates the family.

Years Attended: 2011

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