Clan Livingstone itinerary

Clan Livingstone flourished in two areas of Scotland. The lowland clan had great influence in the royal castles around West Lothian and then, representing the church, they took power in the west Highland region of Argyllshire. Their history is full of stories of courage, loyalty and passion, even in the face of adversity. This itinerary takes you from Edinburgh to West Lothian, Stirling, Argyll and Inverness.

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  • The exterior of Callendar House in Callendar Park, Falkirk
    Callendar House in Callendar Park, Falkirk
  • Looking over theshore towards the castle which sits on an island, a purple light reflects off the water and distant mountains
    Looking across Loch Laich over to Castle Stalker, Argyll
  • Culloden Battlefield at dusk, near Inverness
    Culloden Battlefield, near Inverness
  • Looking across the loch to the ruined Linlithgow Palace and St Michael's Parish Church
    Linlithgow Palace and St Michael's Parish Church
  • Looking over to the outside of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
    The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland's magnificent historic capital. You'll be spoilt for things to do and places to visit. A good starting point is the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street where you'll find the history of Scotland from early geological times through to the present day.

At the nearby Scottish Genealogical Society library in Victoria Terrace you'll find plenty of fellow travelers and enthusiastic researchers, as well as a wealth of genealogical information and guidance. No appointment is necessary but there is a small charge for non-members.

A man called Livingus is thought to be the originator of the lowland Livingstone families. In the reign of King David I, Livingus had a considerable estate in West Lothian. His son, Thurstanus was a witness to the foundation charter of Holyroodhouse in 1128. You can visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile while the new Scottish Parliament lies nearby on Canongate.

A grisly event is supposed to have taken place at the foot of Canongate. In 1600 Jean Livingston, daughter of John Livingstone of Dunipace, was beheaded here for the murder of her husband, John Kincaid of Warriston. She was only 21 and said to be a great beauty but she declined the efforts of her father, who having great influence at court, tried to save her life.

At the other end of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle, which offers beautiful views from the battlements of the New and Old towns of Edinburgh. In 1440 Sir Alexander Livingstone of Callendar was involved in the murder of the young Earl of Douglas and his brother, who were invited to a banquet at the castle but were killed on arrival. A few years later the Douglases, having become very powerful, took their revenge by imprisoning Sir Alexander Livingstone and executing one of his sons.

Visit Livingston, to the south west of Edinburgh, a new town built in the last 50 years. Just to the south is the original Livingston village, founded by the Flemish entrepreneur De Leving (or Livingus). The village kirk and inn date back to the 1700s, and nearby you can visit the Almond Valley Heritage Centre which has fascinating displays in the museum and farm showing the West Lothian's agriculture and industrial heritage.

Leave Livingston and travel north to Linlithgow. Although now a popular town with a main shopping centre, Linlithgow retains many features from its regal and historic past. Linlithgow Palace is a magnificent ruin lying between the town and Linlithgow Loch and was the favourite home of Scottish royalty. Mary Queen of Scots, who was born at the palace, was tutored by John Alexander, the 5th Lord Livingstone, who faithfully served the young queen until his death. His son William stood by the Queen at the Battle of Langside, when she was finally made to surrender the throne of Scotland. By 1600 the Lord of Livingstone had received the earldom of Linlithgow. The 2nd Earl was made Hereditary Constable of the Royal Palace.

A few miles further west is Callendar Park. The Barony of Callendar was granted to Sir William Livingstone by King David II. He accompanied the King in his expedition to England in 1346, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Durham. He was one of four commissioners appointed by the Estates of Scotland to negotiate the ransom of the King, and also for peace between the two nations.

He first built a tower house here in 1345 and his descendants lived here and developed the estate until 1747. Their story is told at Callendar House, one of Scotland's finest country houses where you can see staff in period costumes bringing the past to life. The house is also home to the History Research Centre, which has archives from Falkirk and the surrounding area and exhibitions which detail 600 years of Scottish history.

To the south of Callendar Park is Westquarter, to the west is Kilsyth and to the north west is Dunipace. All are mentioned in the histories of the Grants as homes of the descendants of the Callendar Livingstones.

Further north, Stirling is a historic city blessed with modern attractions. The impressive Stirling Castle towers above the river and medieval bridge. Sir James Livingstone of Callendar, first Lord Livingstone, was appointed the captain of the castle. He was also tutor to the young King James II and became Great Chamberlain of Scotland. These times were unsettled and perilous with rival plots and sometimes murder so Sir James had to work hard to protect his young charge.

Around a mile southwest of the city, you can visit the very poignant site of the Battle of Bannockburn which took place in 1314. Robert the Bruce declared himself King of Scotland in 1306 and began a long and arduous campaign to secure his title, finally achieving success at this battle.

Travel through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, through Glen Lochy and the Pass of Brander to Dunbeg. West of Dunbeg on the coast is Dunstaffnage Castle, an impressive fortress. Make your way to Oban and relax after your long drive in this picturesque coastal resort town.

Take the ferry to the small island of Lismore, which lies in Loch Linnhe at the southern end of the Great Glen. It has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and islands and although it may seem peaceful and remote today, it played an important part in the early history of Scotland when the most reliable and fastest transport was by water.

St Moluag came to Lismore in 561 and founded a monastery. The town became the seat of the medieval bishopric of Argyll.

The Highland Livingstones, who were originally MacLeays, came from the Isle of Lismore and the districts of Lorn and Appin in Argyll. In 1641 James Livingstone of Stirling was the Keeper of the Privy Purse to King Charles I and was granted the lease of the lands and the rights of the bishopric of Argyll. He came to Lismore to Achandu Castle and the MacLeays adopted the name Livingstone.

The Argyll Livingstones became the hereditary Keepers of the crozier (pastoral staff) of St Moluag and received grants of the land in Lismore and the title of Barons of Bachuil. Explore the island to find a Pictish broch, Viking ruins at Castle Coeffin and the palace of Achandu. At Lismore parish church, look for Livingstone graves in the graveyard.

Another branch of the MacLeays or Livingstones became followers of the Stewarts of Appin. Return to the mainland and travel a few miles north to Appin and in the bay near Portnacroish you will find Castle Stalker. It was built by Duncan Stewart of Appin in the late 1400s.

For a truly atmospheric experience, make the journey north to the battleground of Culloden near Inverness where, in April 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite rebellion was crushed.

Charles Stewart of Ardsheal led Appin men to break the Redcoat ranks but they were then slain by the government forces. During the battle Donald Livingstone saved the 'White Banner of the Stewarts' and carried it safely back to Appin.