Clan Barclay itinerary

Follow this Clan Barclay itinerary which takes you from the royal castles of Edinburgh and Stirling to the Barclay ancestral lands in Fife, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire. Hear the stories and see the places where Clan Barclay chiefs and their descendants left their mark, whilst experiencing the tranquility of the inspiring Scottish landscapes along the way.

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  • Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens
    Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens
  • Looking along a farm track through fields to Corgarff Castle
    Looking along a farm track through fields to Corgarff Castle
  • Old woman in historic dress cooks at an open hearth in the centre of a reconstruction of an old croft house
    The Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore
  • Robert the Bruce statue at The Battle of Bannockburn Centre
    Robert the Bruce statue at The Battle of Bannockburn Centre

Originally from France, the Barclays settled in England early in their history and were listed in the Domesday Book. Lord Roger de Berchelai and his son came to Scotland with the future wife of Malcolm III in 1067, and when Malcolm bestowed lands on his followers the de Berchelais acquired land in Aberdeenshire and Fife. The Barclays also held high positions in the government of Scotland and later played important roles in the battlegrounds of both Scotland and Europe.

You can begin your journey in Edinburgh, Scotland's magnificent historic capital. Discover the history of Scotland from the country's earliest geological origins through to the present day at the National Museum of Scotland, and at the Scottish Genealogical Society library you will find a wealth of information and guidance on how to research your family roots.

Edinburgh Castle is a fascinating place to visit on a Clan Barclay tour. In the 17th century Colonel David Barclay, first Laird of Urie, was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle charged with hostility to the government. However, with powerful and influential friends he was soon freed. It was during his imprisonment that he met the Laird of Swinton, a member of the Society of Friends, and became a Quaker.

Travel north west to Stirling, a historic city with much to offer its visitors and an attractive mix of old and new. Visit the impressive Stirling Castle which towers above the river and medieval bridge.

Why not visit the very poignant site of the Battle of Bannockburn? 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 in 1314. Sir David Barclay was one of Robert the Bruce's chief supporters and fought with him at many of his battles.

Head north east towards Perth. A few miles to the west of Perth is the village of Methven, the site of the famous Battle of Methven in 1306. Accompanied by Sir David Barclay, Robert the Bruce attempted to retake Perth and 4,500 men gathered and camped at Methven. They had agreed with the leader of the English forces, the Earl of Pembroke to wait until the next day to begin the battle, but during the night the English attacked and killed all but a few hundred of the Scottish army. Sir David was taken prisoner by the English.

Just north of Perth is Scone Palace, a splendid building and grounds. This was once the home of the Stone of Scone (or Stone of Destiny) and the crowning place for kings of Scotland including William the Lion in 1165. The stone is now at Edinburgh Castle.

Early ancestors of the Barclay Clan settled in Fife. Collairnie was near Dunbog in north Fife, and the Barclays built a fine tower house here in the 16th century. What remains is now part of a working farm and is not open to the public. Fife is full of winding country roads and small villages and hamlets, so take time to enjoy the history and landscapes still to be seen today.

Travel up the scenic coastal road to Stonehaven. This is a historic and charming town focused around the harbour which is sheltered from the north easterly gales. In the town's oldest building is the Tolbooth Museum, which will tell you about the history of Stonehaven and its links to the sea. On the outskirts of Stonehaven to the north west is Urie House, now ruinous. The Barclays of Urie are descended from Colonel David Barclay who purchased land here in 1647 when he retired from military service. His grandson, David Barclay of Cheapside, London was the founder of Barclay's Bank. Urie House was built after the estates were sold by the Barclay family in the 19th century but incorporated parts of the original Barclay tower house.

Now continue north along the coast to Aberdeen. Spend a few hours exploring the distinctive grey-stoned architecture that gives the place its nickname of the Granite City, and perhaps visit the fine maritime museum. The Barclays were involved in trading with Scandinavia as early as the 1600s, and some Barclay merchants settled on the Baltic shores. Field Marshall Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, a descendant of these earlier migrants, became a Minister of War in 1810 and later commanded the Russian armies against Napoleon.

You may also like to view the elegant buildings of Kings College, one of the oldest university colleges in Scotland. Several Barclays have been educated at Aberdeen University including William Barclay of Gartly, a political theorist of the 16th century. The university has also enjoyed the generous patronage of the Barclay family over the centuries.

Sir Walter Berkeley who served King William the Lion held lands at Gartly, and his descendants also settled in Towie in Aberdeenshire. Travel north towards Turriff on the A947 and between Fyvie and Turriff you will find Towie-Barclay Castle, a 16th century tower house. It is not open to the public but does offer National Trust for Scotland Holiday Accommodation. Nearby, just east of Turriff is Delgatie Castle which is open to visitors and, being similar to Towie-Barclay Castle, offers an insight into the home of your ancestors. Delgatie is also particularly noted for its very good tea and cakes!

Now turn to the south west to Huntly Castle, a magnificent ruin with a long and interesting history. Travel south along the Strathbogie and you will find a small settlement called Gartly, where your earliest ancestors first settled in Scotland. Travel south west on to the Cairngorm plateau to Corgarff Castle, which was built by John Forbes of Towie on a wild and lonely site in the mid 1500s. It has been wonderfully restored by Historic Scotland as it would have been in the mid 1700s.

When journeying back towards Edinburgh, you can drive south across the Cairngorms passing Balmoral Castle, the beautiful summer retreat of the Royal Family. Then you can journey on to Braemar, an attractive village which enjoyed the royal patronage of Queen Victoria. Half a mile to the east is Braemar Castle, a fairytale castle with many period furnished rooms and museum exhibitions which is well worth exploring.

Alternatively, you can drive north west around the top of the Cairngorms National Park to Aviemore to join the A9. Near Aviemore is the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, the highest and fastest mountain railway in the country and a special way to enjoy the spectacular views. Travel south to Newtonmore where you'll find the fascinating Highland Folk Museum where more than 400 years of Highland history are brought to life in exhibitions which track the everyday experiences of clansmen and crofters.

Continuing south you will pass the seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl, Blair Castle. Set in majestic grounds in the heart of Perthshire, Blair Castle boasts an extensive collection of arms and armour, pictures, furniture, porcelain, embroidery and family memorabilia.