Clan Melville itinerary

Originally from Normandy, the Melvilles settled in Scotland during the 12th century and gave their name to lands around Midlothian and Fife. Over the centuries they played an active role in Scottish politics and the family seat can now be found in Nairnshire in the Highlands.

Follow this five-day itinerary from the Scottish Borders, through Fife and the Highlands and uncover the areas where Clan Melville made its mark.

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  • 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
  • Looking across the loch to the ruined Linlithgow Palace and St Michael's Parish Church
    Linlithgow Palace and St Michael's Parish Church
  • The Animal World Gallery at the National Museum of Scotland
    The National Museum of Scotland

Start your discovery of Clan Melville in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. There’s plenty things to see and do in the city and an ideal starting point is the Scottish Genealogical Society in Victoria Terrace, which is an excellent resource of genealogical information. Appointments are not required, but a small admission fee is applicable for non-members.

Take the short work to the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street where you’ll find displays on the history of Scotland which date from early geological times through to the present day.

While in the Edinburgh, enjoy a bus tour which gives an excellent overview of the city’s history and visit the imposing Edinburgh Castle. An ancestor of the Melvilles, Galfrid de Maleville, was Guardian of the castle in the 12th century during the reign of King Malcolm.

You can also explore Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile in the Old Town and take a stroll through the elegant New Town.

Travel six miles south east from Edinburgh where you’ll find Melville Castle which was commissioned by the first Viscount Melville in 1786 and is now a luxury hotel.

Continue east to the coastal town of Dunbar and visit the remains of Dunbar Castle of which Sir John Melville of Raith was appointed captain by James V. You could even go as far as Berwick-upon-Tweed which is just over the border into England. This important military town has changed hands between Scotland and England many times. Sir John de Melville, ancestor of Dunbar Castle’s captain was one of 2,000 great barons of Scotland who swore allegiance to Edward I in 1296 when he visited Berwick.

You can find information about the history of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers regiment at Berwick Barracks. They were first raised as a regiment by David the 3rd Earl of Leven, and who later inherited the earldom of Melville.

Head back into Scotland and to the west of Edinburgh to the picturesque town of Linlithgow. The magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Sir Robert Melville of Murdocairnie was Keeper of the Palace at the end of her reign. He was later made Vice Chancellor of Scotland and took the title Lord Murdocairnie.

From Linlithgow, head over the Forth Road Bridge to the Kingdom of Fife. The lands of Leven, Murdocairnie and Monimail were where the Melvilles earned and inherited charters and titles between the 16th and 18th centuries. Explore the country roads and hamlets to discover the 14th century Balgonie Castle to the east of Glenrothes which was the seat of the Earl of Leven.

The stately home Melville House which was built in 1697 for the 1st Earl of Melville, who was Secretary of State for Scotland, can be found on the outskirts of Monimail.

If time allows, stop off in the beautiful town of St Andrews and explore its history.

Travel north towards the Moray coast where you’ll find the village of Ferness just south of Forres where the clan chief currently resides.

Along the coast, stop off at Nairn Museum which tells the story of the families who lived and worked in the area. A few miles south lies the fairy-tales Cawdor Castle with its links to Shakespeare’s Macbeth where you can explore the area’s history as well as the beautiful gardens and woodland.

A 20-minutes drive west will take you to the infamous Culloden battlefield where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite rebellion was the crushed by government forces in 1746. The interactive visitor centre provides a fascinating account of this bloody battle.

You can then stay overnight in Inverness, the beautiful and bustling capital of the Highlands, where you’ll find lots of things to see and do and food and drink to enjoy.

For your final day, head south of Inverness to the small town of Newtonmore and visit the Highland Folk Museum.

This museum brings to life 400 years of Highland living with exhibitions depicting the everyday experiences of both clansmen and crofters.