Clan Lindsay itinerary

The Lindsays came to prominence in both Scotland and England in the 11th century. This clan itinerary looks at the history of the Lindsays through Lanarkshire and Midlothian in the southern Lowlands and in Fife, Angus and Kincardineshire in the eastern Highlands.

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  • Arbroath Abbey
    Arbroath Abbey
  • Couple walking around the grounds at Dryburgh Abbey
    Dryburgh Abbey
  • Looking over the outside of Glamis Castle
    Glamis Castle
  • Looking over to the outside of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
    The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
  • Diners, drinkers and shoppers on South Street in St Andrews
    South Street, St Andrews

Throughout the centuries there have been famous Lindsays in many fields including the arts, literature, history, music, science, astronomy, the church and government. It is said that since 1147 Lindsays have held seats in almost every parliament, both Scottish and English.

Throughout the history of Scotland the Lindsay Earls of Crawford took part in the most notable events. At the wedding banquet of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, the Earl of Crawford was given the honour of cupbearer, and remained faithful to the Queen’s cause throughout her life. You can visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the end of the Royal Mile to see the place where the Queen was married to the Lord.

At the other end of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle. In 1661 a Lindsay was rewarded with the title of Earl of Balcarres for his eminent service during the civil war and became the hereditary governor of Edinburgh Castle. He was also made the Secretary of State for Scotland and High Commissioner to the General Assembly. In 1681 it was the daughter of John Lindsay, Lord Menmuir, who helped the Covenanting Earl of Argyll escape from the castle by taking him out as a page holding up her train.

The early history of the Lindsays takes place in ancient Haddingtonshire, the area to the east of Edinburgh. Make your way to Aberlady and Luffness, where you can see the private Luffness Castle, now the site of a tower house having been knocked down on the orders of Lord Hertford following his victory over the Scots in 1547.

East of Aberlady lies the 13th century ruins of a Carmelite monastery, the monks of which were granted freedom from tolls at the port by the Lindsay landowners. The ruins of Garleton Castle are said to be on the site of land once owned by the Lindsays, and the castle was the birth place of Sir David Lindsay of the Mount who wrote the famous play, Ane Satyre of the Three Estaitis.

Make your way to Haddington which has seen a thousand years of history as the gateway to Edinburgh and the path of many marauding armies. The High Street and Market Street are a warren of wynds and lanes and contrast greatly with the grand buildings of Court Street. St Mary's is Scotland's largest parish church and is well worth exploring.

Drive south to Dryburgh Abbey, a fine example of ecclesiastic architecture despite having suffered in four wars and being burnt down three times. Ayrshire land was donated by William Lindsay of Crawford to Dryburgh Abbey.

Continue west to Crawford, the site of the first clan chief's seat at Crawford Castle, enjoying the rolling hills and forests of the Border country as you go. The ruins of Crawford Castle are on the site of the original Tower Lindsay, which was attacked by William Wallace who took it from the English garrison, killing 50 people. The Crawford-Lindsays held this land for several centuries and over to the west of the A74(M) you can visit the quiet and attractive hamlet of Crawford-John. The Crawfordjohn Heritage Venture has rural craft exhibitions and historical records to research your family roots.

Head north to Stirling, the Scottish city best known for its associations with Scotland's hero, William Wallace and the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Whilst in Stirling visit the impressive Stirling Castle, a favoured royal retreat for the Stuart dynasty and the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots.

The Lindsay knights were prominent in both England and Scotland and so were in a dilemma as to which side to support. They forfeited much of their land in England as a result of moving their support to the independence of Scotland. Sir Philip Lindsay took part with Edward of England against the Scots in the Wars of Succession, invaded Scotland with Percy, and was present at the siege of Stirling, but went over to Robert the Bruce after Bannockburn. A mile or so southwest of the historic city of Stirling is the very poignant site of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, which has a state-of-the-art visitor centre where you can find out more.

Less well known is the battle of Sauchieburn which took place near Stirling in 1488 and led to the death of King James III. James was an unpopular king and, backed by his disgruntled nobles, his son James took arms and defeated him at Sauchieburn. At that time Sir John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, was made Lord of Parliament and it was his son David who, on the eve of the battle, gave King James III the 'great grey horse'. The horse was to carry him faster than any other horse into or away from the battle; unfortunately the horse threw the king with fatal consequences. Lord Lindsay himself brought a 4,000-strong army from Fife to the battle.

The Lindsay clan was prevalent in the area to the northeast of Stirling. Make your way east to Loch Leven, and visit Lochleven Castle. Built on an island in the loch it is a remarkably complete example of a castle enclosure and is well worth exploring. It was the place where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567 and where Patrick, the sixth Lord of Lindsay, forced her to give up her crown.

Travel north to Perth, home of the Black Watch regiment. John the 20th Earl of Crawford was the first commander of this regiment, then known as Lord Crawford-Lindsay's Highlanders, and their history and traditions are displayed in the museum at Balhousie Castle. The Earls of Crawford lived and married in a family mansion in Nethergate, Dundee.

Around 10 miles north of Dundee is Glamis Castle, where the spirit of ‘Earl Beardie’ Crawford is said to be locked in a secret room to gamble for all eternity with the devil. Glamis Castle has played an important part in the nation's history.

Travel north east to Brechin where you can admire the magnificent stained glass in the cathedral. A few miles north of Brechin you will find Edzell and Glenesk. The Edzell and Glenesk branch of the Lindsay family descended from the son of the ninth Earl of Crawford. Edzell Castle was home to these Lindsays from 1358 until 1715 and the restored gardens were originally designed and built by Sir David Lindsay in 1604. Don't miss the best preserved room in the castle, situated on the upper floor of the summer house.

Travel further north up the coast to Stonehaven, where you will find Dunnottar Castle set in a spectacular location on a rocky coastal outcrop. The second Sir William of the Byres married a daughter of Sir William Keith, Marischal of Scotland, and received the castle of Dunnottar as part of the marriage.

Take the picturesque coastal route south through Montrose to Arbroath, famous for the Declaration of Arboath. In 1320 at Arbroath Abbey the Abbot drafted a formal document to Pope John XXII asking him to pressurise Edward II to recognise Robert as King of Scotland. It was signed by 39 Scots lords including David of Lindsay. Arbroath Abbey has a visitor centre where you can find out more about the most famous document in Scottish history.

Continue west through Dundee and over the Tay Road Bridge into the heart of the Kingdom of Fife. Colinsburgh and Kilconquhar are situated a few miles south of St Andrews. Balcarres, Colinsburgh is the home of the current clan chief, Sir Robert Alexander Lindsay, 29th Earl of Crawford and 12th Earl of Balcarres. In 1997 he was created a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle. Explore the country roads and hamlets and the beaches around Earlsferry and stop off in the historic city of St Andrews.