Clan Chattan touring information

Explore the lands of your ancestors by following this Clan Chattan itinerary. Explore the ‘Jewel of the Clyde’, the Island of Bute and destinations throughout the Highlands where the Chattan captains and their followers left their mark. You can experience the peace and tranquillity of inspiring Scottish landscapes, the evocative splendour of ancient castles, the hospitality of the local people and much more.

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  • flowery bushes border the grand drive up to the spledid, turreted castle
    Inveraray Castle, home to the Duke of Argyll
  • A small boat on the calm waters of Loch Lomond
    Loch Lomond
  • The interior of the Mitchell Library in Glasgow
    Mitchell Library
  • Rothesay Castle, Bute
    Rothesay Castle, Bute

In the 14th century Clan Chattan became a powerful Highland confederation of 17 tribes with blood bonds and alliances to the Chattan name. Prior to that time, the Chattan clansmen were the descendants of followers of St Catan who lived on the Island of Bute. They spread north and east from Bute, living in the Highlands of Scotland, from Glenloy in the west to Glenshee in the east and from Inverness in the north to Laggan at the southern end of Strathspey and Badenoch. They had a turbulent history, being often perceived with trepidation by both the Lords of the Isles and the Scottish kings.

Start off exploring your connections with Clan Chattan at the cosmopolitan city of Glasgow, Scotland's largest urban centre and a popular destination for a short break. Glasgow's fine museums and galleries are complemented by the Mitchell Library, one of the largest public reference libraries in Europe and home of the city archives.

Clan Chattan is said to have originated from the descendants of Gillichattan Mor, the servant of St Catan who lived on the Island of Bute in the 6th century. Take the scenic route to the island to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and see what life is like in a Scottish island community. Head north west from Glasgow, travel along the shores of Loch Lomond and through the Arrochar Alps in the heart of Argyll and enjoy some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland. Reach the top of Loch Fyne, with views across to Inveraray Castle, then head south along the A815 and A886 to arrive at the Colintraive ferry for the short crossing to Rhubodach on the Island of Bute.

Once on the island, there are numerous visitor attractions including Rothesay Castle, Mount Stuart - a gothic edifice with fine gardens - and Bute Museum where you can find information on the island's geology, archaeology, local and natural history and archives. At the southern tip of the island are Kilchattan and the medieval chapel of St Blane, an earlier Christian site dating from the time of St Catan, when he established Christianity on the island.

Retrace your steps back to the shores of Loch Lomond and head north to Crianlarich, then north through the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area. The majestic mountain scenery is as famous as the events which took place at Glencoe in 1692. A stunning new visitor centre can be found at Inverigan where the whole bloody story unfolds in a memorable audio-visual experience.

A mile or so north of Fort William, leave your car at Benavie and walk along the canal, passing Neptune's Staircase, a series of eight locks built in 1822. At Torcastle Farm you will find the ruins of Tor Castle.  In 1291 the direct Chattan family line ended and the female heir, Eva, daughter of Dougall Dall of Clan Chattan in Lochaber, (the area around Fort William), married Angus Mackintosh, 6th Laird of Mackintosh. He became the captain of Clan Chattan and lived in Tor Castle. There was much feuding between the Mackintoshes and Clan Cameron and the castle was occupied by Camerons from 1528 to 1650.

Travel a few miles north to Achnacarry, passing through Gairlochy which is the site of the Battle of Killicrankie in 1689. Then, travel east along the A86; you will pass along the shores of Loch Laggan and on to the village of Laggan itself. Clan Chattan occupied the lands from Laggan to Inverness - these were the ancient lands of Badenoch, Strathspey, Strathearn and Strathnairn. During the Scottish Wars of Independence the Captain of Clan Chattan supported the victorious Robert the Bruce, and as a reward was granted lands in Badenoch which had been forfeited by the Comyns, Bruce's enemies. The hit BBC drama series Monarch of the Glen is set in the Highlands in fictitious Glenbogle, but it was actually filmed in Laggan and the surrounding area. If time allows, explore the peaceful countryside to see a variety of wildlife including possibly, golden eagles, ospreys, red deer and pine martin.

Continue along the A86 towards Inverness. Just south of Newtonmore is the site of the battle of Invernahavon, where in 1387 the Mackintoshes fell out with the Macphersons.

Camerons living on lands in Lochaber belonging to the Chattans had refused to pay the rent and the Mackintosh-Chattan men had taken their cattle in lieu of the debt without their agreement. Some 400 Camerons gathered to take revenge and the Captain of Clan Chattan, the Mackintosh chief, called upon the Davidsons and Macphersons to support him in the battle. The Davidsons were given the honour of fighting at the right hand side of the Mackintoshes and as a result the Macphersons stormed off the battlefield before the fight had even begun. The Camerons now outnumbered the Davidsons and Mackintoshes and killed many of them, however the next day the Macphersons were shamed into rejoining the battle and had no trouble in defeating the exhausted Camerons. The Mackintosh and Macphersons joined forces therafter, forgetting their differences, for the good of the Clan Chattan confederation.

Find out more about the Highland way of life at Newtonmore, where you can visit the Highland Folk Museum.

South east of Aviemore is the Rothiemurchus Estate. This is another place to enjoy the beautiful scenery, this time of the Cairngorms, and the natural history of Scotland. It was to here that Angus Mackintosh withdrew from Torcastle when driven out by the hatred of Angus Og of Islay in the 13th century.

Head to the Highland capital where there is a great variety of historic attractions to explore, including Inverness Museum, Fort George and the Highlanders’ Museum.  Make the short journey to the battleground of Culloden where, in April 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite Rebellion was crushed by government forces. Clan Chattan and the Mackintoshes suffered heavy losses at the battle in support of the ‘young pretender’.

Return southwards by Turning off the A9 at Carrbridge and take the road encircling the Cairngorms National Park to Braemar. Half a mile to the east is Braemar Castle, a fairytale castle inside star-shaped walls. This was used as a garrison for government forces during the Jacobite uprising, and today the castle is owned by the Farquharson family who were part of the Clan Chattan confederation.

If you choose to head back to Glasgow you will pass through Perth. Just north of here is the site of the famous battle of North Inch. In 1396 King Robert III tried to resolve the feuds between the Camerons and the Clan Chattan Mackintoshes. An arena was built and each clan chose 30 of their best warriors to take part in a battle. The fight was so horrifically bloody only one of the combatants survived, and the feuds continued worse than before.

If you wish to visit the elegant capital city of Edinburgh, from Perth you will pass to the east of Falkirk. When Prince Charlie returned in 1745, the chief of the Mackintoshes was an officer to George II and in command of a company of the Black Watch. Although he did not rally to the Prince's call of arms, his wife raised the confederation in his absence. She selected MacGillivray of Dunmaglas as the commander and Clan Chattan fought and won under him in the Jacobite victory of Falkirk in 1746.